HUGE PROGRESS! Apparel brands are signing the Accord on Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh
Background: In the wake of the November’s terrible Tazreen factory fire that killed 112 workers making clothes for Walmart and other brands, we called on major apparel companies to join the independently-monitored Accord on Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh to ensure that their clothes weren’t being made under deadly conditions. The horrific Rana Plaza building collapse, which killed more than 1,100 workers in April, only underscored the urgency of meaningful reform in the Bangladeshi garment industry.
Partners: International Labor Rights Forum, United Food and Commercial Workers – Canada, United Students Against Sweatshops, Workers’ Rights Consortium, Corporate Action Network, CREDO, Clean Clothes Campaign, Making Change at Walmart, Avaaz, and more
What we want: We wanted brands to sign the Accord on Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh to prevent tragedies like this from happening again.
Current status: We’ve made huge progress! Thousands of us donated to bring Bangladeshi labor leader Kalpona Akter and Tazreen factory fire survivor Sumi Abedin to the U.S. to challenge executives at Walmart, Gap and other companies. While they were here, the Rana Plaza building collapsed and Kalpona was able to talk to reporters right away and make sure they told the story about who was ultimately responsible for the tragedy: the brands that turned a blind eye to known safety issues in their factories. So many of us were moved by the building collapse that we collectively chipped in enough money to give $35,000 — nearly double our goal — to two courageous groups organizing in the Bangladeshi garment industry, the Bangladesh Center for Worker Solidarity and the National Federation of Garment Workers. Meanwhile, under pressure from consumers and workers around the globe, more than 40 major companies — including Joe Fresh, which our Canadian members targeted specifically — have signed the agreement. But Gap and Walmart are still holding out, and we won’t stop until they sign the legally-binding agreement to protect their workers from death traps.
MAKING WAVES! Exxon: Release information on the massive tar sands oil spill in Mayflower, Arkansas.
Background: ExxonMobil spilled 100,000 barrels of toxic tar sands crude in the Arkansas town of Mayflower. It pressured the U.S. government to issue a no-fly zone over the spill site to keep cameras away from the spill, and threatened reporters with arrest so the public wouldn’t know the effects of the spill. This spill happened at the same time as the U.S. State Department was considering whether to approve or reject the proposed massive Keystone XL (KXL) tar sands pipeline.
Partners: Environmental Action, Oil Change International, and Tar Sands Blockade
What we want: We were simultaneously demanding Exxon release all the information on the spill, and calling for U.S. State Department officials to reject the tar sands pipeline.
Current status: Over 86,000 of us signed the original petition to Exxon. We linked up with Tar Sands Blockade, whose brave members snuck into areas closed off by Exxon, to leak out photos of the tragic spill. Over 1,000 members of the Sum of Us donated to blanket the DC Metro station that State Department employees use with images from the spill, so that every day, on the way to and from work, they’d see the reality of what a tar sands spill really looks like.
WE WON! H&M: Get slavery out of your supply chain
Background: Slavery is alive and well in the modern world. Every year, millions of men, women, and children in Uzbekistan are forced to work in the state-run cotton industry. These crimes are only possible because a multinational conglomerate called Daewoo International operates cotton processing plants in Uzbekistan and deals in slave-grown cotton. H&M was complicit in this tragedy, since it continued to buy cotton from Daewoo which profits off Uzbeki cotton.
Partners: International Labor Rights Forum, Anti-Slavery International, WalkFree
What we want: We called on H&M to cut ties with Daewoo to help ensure that no corporation profits from slavery.
Current status: We won! After 70,000 members of the Sum of Us signed our petition to H&M, the apparel giant agreed to stop buying from Daewoo and to reach down into its supply chain and ensure that none of its suppliers do business with Daewoo either. We’re helping set a new standard for ethical behavior in the garment industry, and we’ll be calling on other companies to cut ties with Daewoo soon.
GRABBING HEADLINES! FDA: Don’t redefine milk
Background: The dairy lobby is pushing to change the legal definition of “milk” to allow the addition of aspartame and other artificial sweeteners, without special designation on the front of the packaging.
What we want: We are pushing the FDA to deny their petition, and keep milk, milk.
Current status: Before we picked up this campaign, it was relegated to small websites — very few people knew what was going on. Now, dozens of media outlets have covered the story, and the dairy lobby is on the defensive. Thanks to your donations, we were able to fund radio and bus ads that got the attention of dozens of press outlets. And this past Tuesday, we delivered our own petition with 117,000 signatures to the FDA. We brought Sum of Us staff (and a puppy!) dressed as cows to the FDA headquarters to hand out chocolate milk to FDA employees arriving at work, and offer them aspartame with their milk. Unsurprisingly, no one took us up on the offer of aspartame. At the moment, the FDA has not decided whether to take up the dairy lobby’s petition and propose a redefinition of milk.
Daily Mail: Sack Richard Littlejohn for his hateful column
Background: Daily Mail columnist Richard Littlejohn used English schoolteacher Lucy Meadows’ private decision to transition from male to female as a basis for a disgusting hit piece in which he called on her to resign. The media circus over Lucy’s transition caused her to withdraw from her job, and she committed suicide a few months later.
What we want: We petitioned the Daily Mail to make a formal apology, and to sack Richard Littlejohn.
Current status: The outcry was immediate, and immense. We had an massive response from our UK membership, and over 200,000 people from around the world signed our petition calling for the Daily Mail to sack Littlejohn. Hundreds of members of the Sum of Us helped fund bicycle ads circling the Daily Mail headquarters, and people handing out flyers at the nearest Tube stop, calling for Littlejohn’s ouster. The Daily Mail took Littlejohn’s column offline, but has yet to otherwise respond. We will continue to monitor the Mail, and look for opportunities to apply pressure in the future to stop the paper’s horrible campaigns against ordinary citizens.
BIG STEP FORWARD! Bain Capital: Let Guitar Center workers have their union
Background: After Bain Capital took over the company, workers at the iconic music store Guitar Center saw their wages slashed and their benefits gutted. Workers fought back internally for better working conditions, and launched an organizing drive to have their union recognized. Bain responded with a propaganda campaign to stop its employees from organizing
Partner: The Retail, Wholesale, and Department Store Union
What we wanted: We were demanding that Bain stop its union busting and recognize Guitar Center employees’ union.
What happened: On Friday, workers voted to approve the union by a two-to-one margin. We hear that having more than 50,000 people show their support gave the workers a major boost of confidence in the final stretch of the campaign. Now as contract negotiations begin, Bain knows that consumers are on the workers’ side.
Read more: Original petition
Prime Minister Harper and Finance Minister Flaherty:Keep your hands off our CBC
Background: If Prime Minister Harper gets his way, the government will have more control over the CBC than its ever had in the CBC’s 80-year history. The Harper government snuck sweeping changes to the CBC deep into the last section of the budget — on page 109 — granting it disturbing powers to directly control and interfere with our national broadcaster.
Partners: Friends of Canadian Broadcasting and Leadnow.ca
What we want: We called for the Conservative government and the Canadian Finance Minister to take out the provision in the latest budget bill.
Current status: Friends of Canadian Broadcasting delivered 113,000 petition signatures collected by Friends, Leadnow.ca and the Sum of Us to NDP leader Thomas Mulcair and Liberal leader Justin Trudeau. Our supporters chipped in to fund radio ads that aired in the riding of the Finance Minister, showing him (and his constituents) that we don’t want government to control the CBC.
Coke: Don’t crush the world’s best recycling system
Background: Coke was suing an Australian state government to prevent one of the world’s most effective recycling programs, a container deposit scheme, from going into effect. This is part of a long history of Coke fighting to oppose effective recycling programs worldwide.
Partners: The Boomerang Alliance and Greenpeace Australia
What we wanted: We wanted Coca Cola to drop its lawsuit against the Northern Territory Government in Australia. We also wanted Coca Cola to abolish its global policy of opposing container deposit recycling programs.
Current status: Over 114,000 of us signed a petition to Coke to drop its opposition globally. Sadly, Coke won its lawsuit and the Northern Territories government is not allowed to implement the container deposit recycling program as planned. The environment ministers of each state and territory in Australia will soon decide whether or not to introduce a national program instead. If they do, Coke and other beverage companies will be required to participate.
Read More: Original petition
SUCCESS! ConocoPhillips: Stop drilling in the arctic
Background: ConocoPhillips planned to stick with its reckless plans to drill in the Arctic, in spite of the fact that many of its rivals — most notably Shell — had put a halt to Arctic drilling.
What we want: We demanded that ConocoPhillips drop plans to drill in the Arctic.
Current status: ConocoPhillips announced it will stop drilling in the Arctic!
Press Coverage: USA Today
Bayer: Stop killing the bees
Background: Bayer, the global chemical company, is manufacturing a chemical called neonicotinoids that new evidence shows is killing off bees. The global die-off of bees represents an enormous danger to the planet. 30% of our crops — and 90% of wild plants — rely on bees to thrive. Without bees, our entire global food supply is in serious trouble.
What we want: We want Bayer to withdraw its neonicotinoid pesticides from the market, as they pose a grave threat to bee populations worldwide.
Current status: Since our petition in January, further reports have emerged implicating neonicotinoids in bee deaths, bird deaths, and mass die-offs of dragonflies and other beneficial insects. In response, the EU has adopted a landmark ruling, banning neonicotinoids for two years in order to assess their impact. We have taken our fight to retailers in the United States, Canada, and Australia, asking them to pull the bee-poisoning neonicotinoids from their shelves.
Press Coverage: UK Independent
Thanks for reading, and for continuing to support our growing movement for corporate accountability.