Anniversary of the Sweatshop Lawsuit
San Francisco - 14 arrests
Jan 13, 2000, San Francisco. SRBG activists participated in the Global Exchange protest marking the anniversary of the filing of their class-action suit against Gap, Inc. et al. for human rights abuses in Saipan. Articles like this one are very damning, exposing the Fishers and their creation, Gap, Inc., as conscienceless moneygrubbers.

San Francisco Examiner
Gap unfazed by protests over human rights
Elizabeth Brennan
Jan. 14, 2000
©2000 San Francisco Examiner


'No effect on sales,' spokeswoman says of rallies demanding better conditions

After a year of anti-Gap protests led by San Francisco-based

said its sales have not been affected and the company remains confident in its global business practices.

About 40 protesters primarily from the human rights organization gathered Thursday morning outside and in the lobby of Gap's Harrison Street headquarters, exactly one year after first demanding improved human rights conditions at Gap's overseas garment factories.

The protests "have no effect on sales," Gap spokeswoman Maria Moyer-Angus said. "Sales are going up. We are confident in our program and want to be proud of the vendors we have and improve over time."

Gap Inc. has nearly 3,000 stores worldwide, including about 370 international stores. Company officials expect a $2 billion increase in sales in 1999 from 1998 and plan to open about 550 more Gap, Banana Republic and Old Navy stores in 2000.

Protesters hoped to deliver to Gap President Donald Fisher a petition signed by about 10,000 people nationwide demanding Gap ensureits workers are paid a living wage, that they have the right to freely associate and that the company allow external monitors to inspectfactories in 50 countries. But no senior official accepted the petition in person.

Jason Mark of Global Exchange said he remains optimistic despite the lack of response from Gap officials.

"We're raising a tremendous amount of awareness," Mark said. Unlike similar protests against Nike, he said, the Gap campaign "hasn't reached the crescendo of (appearing in) Letterman and Leno jokes yet, but it is growing at a grass-roots level."

At Thursday's protest, 15 protesters were arrested for trespassing while shouting, "Gap workers have been wronged, one year is too long." They were given a citation and a court date, police Capt. Dennis Martel said.

Leila Salazar of Global Exchange, who was arrested, said despite Gap's enormous marketing resources she is confident the campaign will be effective. But first, the public has to realize Gap isn't doing what it says it's doing, she said.

The Gap "has an exemplary code of conduct, but we know it's not being enforced," said Salazar, Global Exchange's corporate accountability organizer. "We need to change that."

Mark said the organization has staged protests in front of Gap stores in major and small cities throughout the United States including Chicago, Minneapolis, New York and Austin, Texas.

"We want them to comply with their vendor code of conduct," Mark said. "Why can't the Gap take that step?"

But Mark said the company has made some improvements in the past year, which demonstrates Gap "has recognized there is a problem."

Gap has an 80-person internal monitoring department including almost 60 compliance officers in the 50 countries in which it does business. The officers generally visit the factories once every three months and also conduct random inspections and check for human rights violations and safety hazards, Moyer-Angus said.

Gap "could just buy ads and put out a lot of misinformation," Mark said, who worries that simply having internal monitors doesn't guarantee improved human rights conditions. "They have to spend real money for monitors."

The company has also used external monitors in El Salvador and is working to develop more independent monitoring programs in other Central American countries.

Salazar commends the company for working with external monitors in El Salvador, but noted El Salvador is only one of 50 countries in which Gap does business and said Global Exchange will continue to push for increased use of external monitors.

She said Global Exchange is not attempting to put Gap out of business, or force them to shut their factories abroad. Instead, the group is focused on improving working conditions.

"We don't want to call a boycott of Gap," Salazar said. "The workers want to keep their jobs. The workers want jobs, they just don't agree with the ways they're being treated. We need to put pressure on Gap to change that."

©2000 San Francisco Examiner - Page A7

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