Submitted by Gap Inc.
UNITE and specialty apparel retailer Gap Inc. (NYSE: GPS) announced today that they are supporting an effort by displaced garment workers in El Salvador to open that country's first independent and fully unionized apparel export factory. UNITE and Gap Inc. also said they plan to regularly discuss ways to cooperatively address garment factory issues that are of mutual concern to both organizations.
"My daughter asked me if it was OK to shop at Gap now, and when I said 'yes,' it instantly cost me $80," said Bruce Raynor, president of UNITE.
In 2002, UNITE led a consumer campaign designed to raise awareness about conditions in factories producing clothes for Gap and other U.S. retailers. The campaign featured a factory in El Salvador that had been closed by its owners following labor disputes. Gap Inc. was one of the factory's several customers.
Talks between UNITE and Gap Inc. resulted in the effort to open the El Salvador factory, called Just Garments. The factory is employing workers who lost their jobs during the labor dispute in 2002. UNITE and other labor activists blamed the previous owner for closing the factory to avoid unionization. As part of its efforts with UNITE to assist the workers, Gap Inc. is committed to placing an order with the factory. Production will commence once quality and other production standards can be met. Most of the workers are members of the Sindicato de Trabajadores de la Industria Textile (STIT) union.
Anne Gust, Gap Inc.'s Chief Administrative and Compliance Officer, said working with UNITE to help the workers open Just Garments reflects a model of collaboration that the company strongly believes in.
"Companies, unions and non-governmental organizations have to learn how to work together to address problems in garment factories," Gust said. "This shows how UNITE and Gap can disagree but still find constructive ways to resolve issues and help workers. We believe this kind of engagement can lead to better garment factories and higher labor standards worldwide."
Raynor praised Gap Inc. for stepping up to help the workers in El Salvador.
"We've had our differences with Gap in the past, and we may in the future," he said. "But when we started talking with them about this situation, and others like it, we realized we could work together and create positive change for workers in El Salvador and elsewhere.
"This industry is riddled with problems worldwide," said Raynor. "We're excited about working with the Gap to create some positive examples that show garment factories can be successful and protect labor standards."
Gap and UNITE plan to cooperatively discuss ways, both domestically and internationally, to strengthen garment factory working conditions and promote fair treatment of workers. Gap Inc. sources merchandise from approximately 3,000 union and non-union factories in about 50 countries, including the United States and Canada.
UNITE is the nation's largest apparel and textiles workers union, representing more than 200,000 workers in the apparel, textile, laundry and other industries throughout the United States and Canada. UNITE has been a leader in the global anti-sweatshop movement. By working with student groups and other concerned citizens, UNITE has focused attention on the conditions workers face in the global apparel industry and has encouraged industry leaders and policy makers to adopt anti-sweatshop policies and practices.
Gap Inc. is a leading international specialty retailer offering clothing, accessories and personal care products for men, women, children and babies under the Gap, Banana Republic and Old Navy brand names. Fiscal 2003 sales were $15.9 billion. As of April 3, 2004, Gap Inc. operated 3,022 store locations in the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, France, Japan and Germany. In the United States, customers also may shop the company's online stores at gap.com, BananaRepublic.com and oldnavy.com. The company has a comprehensive labor standards monitoring program, supported by a global network of more than 90 full-time employees who monitor garment factories and work with stakeholders to improve garment factory conditions and labor standards. More information about the company's ethical sourcing practices can be found online at gapinc.com.
For more information, please contact:
Amanda Cooper (UNITE) 212-332-9376, or
Alan Marks (Gap Inc.) 415-427-6561
Gap Inc. (NYSE: GPS) is a leading global retailer offering clothing, accessories, and personal care products for men, women, children and babies under the Gap, Banana Republic, Old Navy, Piperlime, Athleta and Intermix brands. Fiscal year 2012 net sales were $15.7 billion. Gap Inc. products are available for purchase in more than 90 countries worldwide through about 3,100 company-operated stores, over 300 franchise stores and e-commerce sites. For more information, please visit www.gapinc.com.
More from Gap Inc.