“While the scale of this tragedy is appalling in itself, the fact that this factory was making licensed apparel bearing US Marine Corps logos for a US Government contractor compounds the misfortune. Soffe, a subsidiary of Delta Apparel, is an outfitter for the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard. As shown in the attached photos from the factory, in July, Soffe placed an order for apparel bearing Marine Corps logos in the Tazreen factory where 112 workers lost their lives. It is unacceptable for products made for members of our military or bearing the symbols of our armed forces, and sold at base exchanges around the world, to be sub-contracted out to factories that do not have the most minimal worker protections.”
US lawmakers urge Obama’s action in Tazreen fire
“The fact that Marines logo clothing was found in the rubble of the sweatshop fire should serve as a wake-up call to the US government to put into place safeguards to ensure decent working conditions in government supply chains and among licensees,” said Liana Foxvog of the International Labour Rights Forum. As with Wal-Mart, Disney, Sears, and other well-known American clothing brands whose clothing was found on the Tazreen factory floor immediately after the blaze that killed 112 workers last week, both the US Marine Corps and the North Carolina-based company that was making items under a licensing agreement with the Marines said they did not know about or approve of any arrangement to make garments there. “We never purposefully produced garments there. Ever,” said Bob Humphreys, chairman and CEO of Delta Apparel, which is the parent company of the brand Soffe. Humphreys said his company is “turning things upside down” to figure out why order sheets found at Tazreen identified Soffe as the company that placed the request for the Marine Corps products.
“In its 2012 Global Responsibility report, Wal-Mart said it stopped working with 49 factories in Bangladesh in 2011 because of fire safety issues. And online records appear to indicate the Tazreen factory was given a ‘high risk’ safety rating after an inspection in May 2011 and a ‘medium risk’ rating in August 2011.” Wal-Mart contracted with another company that, without its knowledge, subcontracted with Tazreen. U.S. corporations are showing at least somewhat more awareness and concern about the conditions under which foreign factory workers toil, as Wal-Mart apparently did by cutting off its relationship with Tazreen. The question is whether that’s enough.
The fire of greed