Sweatshop Workers to Speak Out in Syracuse

From the February 2013 PNL #821

by Joy Perkett

In the wake of November’s deadly factory fire in Bangladesh, claiming the lives of 112 garment workers, consumers are aware now more than ever that something has gone terribly wrong in the global apparel industry.


Protestors ask for tax dollars not to be
used to subsidize sweatshops. Photo:
Labor-Religion Coalition of NYS

From February 3-9, garment workers from Haiti and Honduras will tour NYS to speak out against the sweatshop conditions in factories owned and contracted by Gildan Activewear. Gildan is a Montreal-based apparel company that supplies government entities in addition to companies like Adidas and Walmart. A Haitian worker will speak about her union’s protracted struggle to force Gildan to honor a nationwide minimum wage increase for some of the poorest garment workers in the world. A Honduran worker will tell stories of death threats and intimidation she and her co-workers faced when organizing to improve working conditions in their factory.


Workers will be speaking out across New York against the backdrop of a mounting campaign to eliminate sweatshops from the NYS purchasing supply chain. Thanks to the efforts of sweatshop-free advocates, NYS joined the Sweatfree Purchasing Consortium in 2009, and its representative member is president of the Consortium. Yet, despite its leadership, New York has declined to pass a meaningful sweatshop-free Code of Conduct and continues to purchase its apparel from sweatshops.

To pressure NYS to adopt a sweat-free policy, Labor-Religion Coalition (LRC) of New York State in conjunction with All Saints Church, SPC and SEIU Local 200 United have organized a local Sweatshop-Free Week of Action in addition to the NYS Sweatshop Worker Tour. Come hear the workers’ stories and join the Week of Action: 

  •  Sweatshop Workers Speak Out at All Saints Church on Tuesday Feb. 5. Potluck at 6 pm, speakers at 7 pm.
  •  Interfaith Worker Vigil at All Saints Church on Wednesday Feb. 6, 7 pm.
  •  Free documentary screening of Made in LA at the Palace Theater on Thursday Feb. 7, 7 pm.

For more information about local events and to sign the sweat-free petition, visit the LRC website at www.labor-religion.org or contact Campaign Coordinator Joy Perkett at JPerkett@labor-religion.org or 518-213-6000, ext. 6348.