Last week, the Worker’s Rights Consortium (an independent labor watchdog service paid for by Virginia Tech) published a report about a factory disaster that happened in a VF factory in Swaziland producing Virginia Tech apparel. The report is harrowing- it details a chemical leak through which workers were forced to continue producing clothing until police busted and evacuated the building. By this time, workers (including pregnant women) were vomiting and fainting; more than 400 workers were hospitalized. Furthermore, factory managers refused to report the chemicals present, so treatment could not be effectively pursued and VF produced a falsified report to the Worker’s Rights Consortium about the incident.
WRC Report Links Virginia Tech Directly to VF Corporation’s Labor Abuses
Obviously, this violent disregard for worker safety and Swazi law violates the ethical purchasing code of conduct that Virginia Tech adopted when it signed onto the WRC and it is horrible to think that VT clothing is being produced in these conditions. There is now a direct link between violations of our production code of conduct and VF’s corporate behavior which is why USAS has been urging to severe ties with them (regarding their labor violations in Bangladesh). The WRC press release can be found here. If ties with VF Corporation are not severed, students will continue to mobilize and VT risks another factory disaster as well as loss of student support.