A young Vietnamese woman is helped to safety after being beaten by W&D Apparel factory guards on February 20, 2008.
February 26, 2009: The Coalition to Abolish Modern-day Slavery in Asia (CAMSA) is renewing its call for friends of Vietnamese victims of human trafficking to flood the inbox of the multinational corporation Aramark.
CAMSA has been campaigning since last fall to persuade Aramark, a giant clothing wholesaler, to pressure one of its suppliers, the W&D Apparel factory in Jordan, to end its notorious sweatshop practices. So far, that campaign has yielded good results in terms of university groups contacting the ‘fair business practices’ arms of their institutions and requesting a review of relations with Aramark. This has resulted in some uncomfortable scrutiny, and raised this question on campus: “What kind of conditions are our teams’ uniforms made under?”
However, campus associations of Vietnamese students and their allies can’t do this alone. Please join us in calling on both Aramark and W&D Apparel to do everything in their power to ensure that W&D’s Vietnamese guest workers no longer suffer illegal wage cuts, dangerous overwork, and physical abuse!
Some 105 remaining Vietnamese guest workers at W&D are still being cheated and forced to work inhumane hours. They, like an earlier group of workers we helped escape, have petitioned to be allowed to go home. But they, too, have been stonewalled by W&D – even those among them who are ill.
We are calling on Aramark, which is based in Philadelphia, to do something very simple: Use its clout as a huge purchaser to press W&D Apparel’s Taiwanese owners to eliminate all sweatshop practices at their factory. The owners also need to release the passports of the workers who want to go home, and compensate them for lost wages and physical and emotional damages.
Aramark bills itself as a champion of fairness and accountability to the community, but so far has ignored our polite requests to engage on this issue. This has left us no choice but to mobilize community, business, diplomatic, and religious leaders. In particular, student leaders nationwide will be spearheading campus campaigns, because Aramark supplies many schools with sportswear.
Please add your voice to those of our many allies in America and around the world. You can write to Aramark by clicking here, using the sample letter below as a guide. Copying and pasting the letter below is fine; adding your own thoughts, in a diplomatic fashion, is even better.
Mr. Joseph Neubauer
Chairman and Chief Executive Officer
1101 Market Street
Philadelphia, PA 19107
Dear Mr. Neubauer:
It has come to my attention that Aramark purchases clothing from the notorious sweatshop, W&D Apparel, in Jordan. I feel that these purchases are out of line with Aramark’s image as a socially responsible corporation and good neighbor to the communities in which it does business.
Independent investigations show that hundreds of Vietnamese guest workers at W&D have reported being cheated of their wages and forced to work up to 16 hours a day. Others have been physically abused by company security guards. Meanwhile, the company refuses to release the passports of over 100 of these workers, effectively holding them against their will, far from home.
I am calling on you to do the right thing and use your clout as a W&D customer to press W&D Apparel’s Taiwanese owners to eliminate all sweatshop practices at their factory. The owners also need to release the passports of the workers who want to go home, and compensate them for lost wages and physical and emotional damages.
I appreciate your aim of being a responsible actor in the business world, and I look forward to hearing how you have stepped up to right these wrongs. Please let me know of your progress in pressing suppliers like W&D to treat workers decently and fairly. Failing that, I look forward to hearing how you are proceeding to eliminate sweatshops from among your suppliers.
Thank you again for your attention to this matter.
Thank you for joining with us in this campaign for justice for Vietnamese guest workers! Please send us a note if you write to Aramark so that we know how much support we’re mobilizing, and please send us any of their responses so that we can fine-tune our campaign. Your voice is critical to the success of this struggle!