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This week, an NPR piece reminded me about the still-looming crisis of worker conditions in Bangladesh’s numerous textile and clothing factories. In Madrid, performance artists demonstrated on the Gran Via, a major shopping district… well it’s better if you see for yourselves.

(For more about the “urban action,” check out the NPR segment here.)

I’m extremely frustrated by the continued resistance of several North American companies to fully confront their responsibility in not overseeing factories manufacturing products to be sold in their stores and then potentially perpetuate further harm on Bangladeshi garment workers by not signing onto the international accord intended to protect them. The list from last month is here:

Walmart
Gap
Macy’s
Sears/Kmart
JCPenney
VF Corp.
Target
Kohl’s
Cato Fashions
Carter’s
Nordstrom
American Eagle Outfitters
The Children’s Place
Foot Locker

Over the past month, I’ve been simmering with anger over the reports I read. (Incidentally, tell me if you have more up-to-date info.)  I’m not going to describe the abuses themselves. I’m not got going to explain why a nonbinding, independent agreement (as proposed by Walmart and the Gap) is not enough. I’m just going to tell my answer to the problem.

I told my son–who’s a couple months shy of four–that we won’t be buying the next size of his Thomas the Tank Engine undies. I had bought them begrudgingly to begin with. I could only find them at Walmart (which I as a rule avoid) but was feeling somewhat desperate during potty-training to somehow motivate my little guy.

So what did I tell A. now? Pointing to the tag–“On your undies, it says that they were made in Bangladesh. The people who make the Thomas underwear in Bangladesh aren’t safe in their factories. The people who own the factories don’t protect their workers, and a lot of the workers got hurt. Is it more important to keep people safe or have Thomas undies?”

“Safe workers.”

If my three-year-old knows the right answer, why don’t the CEOs and boards of 14 American companies?

Now I just have to figure out where to buy his fall wardrobe. Summer is long here in California. Hopefully, some justice will happen before it ends.

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