On Friday, April 21, activists from Workers United and allies held a demonstration outside the Levi’s flagship store in Times Square, to demand that Levi’s sign the Accord on Fire and Building Safety in the Textile and Garment Sector.
This year marks the 10th anniversary of the Rana Plaza building collapse, which killed more than 1,138 garment workers and injured hundreds more. Today, nearly 200 brands have joined the International Accord, a life-saving agreement for worker safety in garment factories. Yet Levi’s has refused to sign on, leaving workers in its factories at risk.
Joining us at the demonstration were Khalid Mahmood, Director of the Labor Education Foundation in Pakistan and Nazma Akter, President of Sommilito Garments Sramik Federation in Bangladesh. Nazma and Khalid attempted to lead the group into the Levi’s store to deliver a letter to the store manager, but were barred from entering by two police officers stationed outside the door. We remained calm and spoke with the officers for several minutes to try to get entry into the store, but they refused and demanded we leave. Finally, a store manager came out, and Khalid and Nazma gave him the letter and spoke with him about the importance of Levi’s signing the Accord. He agreed to share the letter with Levi’s corporate headquarters.
Our group then gathered in front of the store around 4 volunteers lying on the ground covered in white sheets. These individuals represented the workers at Artistic Milliners, a Levi’s supplier in Karachi, Pakistan where 4 workers died in January 2022 after inhaling poisonous gas. We heard from several speakers, chanted, and passed out flyers. With support from allies at Eko, there was also a billboard truck, circling the store with large digital signs calling on Levi’s to sign the Accord.
We were inspired by all of the support we received, and we will continue to call on Levi’s to sign the International Accord for Health and Safety in the Textile and Garment Industry and make its factories safe.
For more information about the protest, see the Sourcing Journal article: Levi’s Urged to Sign Pakistan Accord: ‘We Really Need Brands to Step Up’