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GAP

While competitors such as H&M, Mango, and Zara have committed themselves to financing vital safety upgrades in Bangladesh, Gap has held back, even going so far as to create an entire website to defend its decision not to join the pact. Labor advocates claim that Gap wants to remove a provision that makes the accord legally binding, rendering it unenforceable.

Labor advocates claim that Gap wants to remove a provision that makes the accord legally binding, rendering it unenforceable.

“Gap says it will sign the agreement, as long as it isn’t binding,” says Rob Wohl, a campaigner with SumofUs.org. “That’s ridiculous. Even the rest of the garment industry acknowledges that corporate-controlled codes of conduct have failed and that legally binding safety standards are necesssary to ensure that the clothes we buy aren’t made in death traps.

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WALMART

Despite Walmart’s perceived—and hastily denied—role in the Tazreen Fashions factory fire that killed 112 workers in November, along with revelations that it played a key role in blocking a proposal to have global retailers help their Bangladesh suppliers improve their electrical and fire safety, the world’s largest retailer has continued to resist signing any legally enforceable agreements.

Walmart says it has drafted its own plan for improving safety at garment factories.

Instead, Walmart says it has drafted its own plan—including the establishment of an Environmental Health and Safety Academy in Bangladesh—for improving safety at garment factories. The company says it will conduct its own safety inspections at all 279 of the factories it works with in Bangladesh.

“Walmart believes its safety plan meets or exceeds the plan put forth by other manufacturers,” the company said in a statement earlier this month, adding that its strategy “will get results more quickly.”

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FAST RETAILING

Fast Retailing, Asia’s largest clothing retailer, says it hasn’t decided if it will join the Bangladesh safety accord. Neither does the company, which owns the Uniqlo clothing chain, have a timeline for making a decision, according to the Wall Street Journal on Monday. Like Walmart, the company says it will opt for its own safety-improvement plans for the factories it employs, including new mandates for regular and stricter fire and disaster drills.

Fast Retailing says it will opt for its own safety-improvement plans for the factories it employs.

“We want to first focus on what we can do right now, on our own,” says Yukihiro Nitta, head of Fast Retailing’s corporate social responsibility group.

UPDATE: Fast Retailing signed the accord on August 8, 2013.

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TARGET

Target has declined to sign the Bangladesh safety agreement in favor of its own “broad set of proposals” to improve safety standards, it said in a statement on May 15. The big-box chain says it has taken a “strategic approach to [its] limited production” in the country.

Target says it has taken a “strategic approach to [its] limited production” in Bangladesh.

“We have been intently focused for several years on creating a safer business environment in Bangladesh,” it added. “Specifically, we have expanded our audit practices and increased our oversight of worker and workplace safety. We do not believe that low-cost production should come at the expense of social responsibility and workplace safety—whether it’s in Bangladesh or anywhere else across the globe where we conduct business. We continue to work with industry partners and third party organizations to influence safety improvements.”

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SEARS

Sears told the Chicago Tribune on May 15 that it doesn’t plan to sign the fire and building pact. Instead, the Sears and Kmart store operator is in “preliminary” discussions about an alternative proposal with retail trade associations in North America. “Meanwhile, we will continue ongoing efforts to work collaboratively with other brands and retailers to improve working conditions in Bangladesh,” it said in a statement.

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MACY’S

Count Macy’s among the ranks of retailers that have decided on going their own way. The department store said in a statement that fewer than 5 percent of its private-label products are made in Bangladesh but it will “continue to work with others in the industry to address the safety problems that have unfortunately resulted in several tragedies.”

Macy’s says that fewer than 5 percent of its private-labels products are made in Bangladesh.

“We use a small number of factories in Bangladesh and have had in place a stringent program of audits and inspections for each,” said Macy’s spokesman Jim Sluzewski. “We have found that having direct and ongoing relationships with a select group of factories allow us to have intensive and constant oversight by Macy’s associates on-site. Among our ongoing requirements for the factories we work with is that they be housed in a free-standing building which they solely occupy. This requirement provides us with better control over compliance of building construction quality and maintenance of fire safety standards.”

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KOHL’S

Kevin Mansell, Kohl’s president and CEO, hedged the issue of the Rana Plaza tragedy at its annual meeting on May 16. “Kohl’s goes to great lengths to ensure the merchandise we sell is manufactured under ethical conditions,” Mansell told a shareholder, referring interested parties to its 2013 corporate social-responsibility report.

Kohl’s says it’s participating in a separate agreement being hammered out by the National Retail Federation.

Although the retailer has shied away from the Bangladesh safety pact, Mansell said that Kohl’s is participating in a separate agreement being hammered out by the National Retail Federation, which has criticized the original accord as a “one-size-fits-all approach without any recognition as to how the industry operates around the world.” “We’re an active participant at the table,” Mansell added.

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FOREVER 21

Forever 21 has stayed mum on the issue of worker safety in Bangladesh. Judging from its less-than-sterling labor standards in the past, however, it’s safe to assume it won’t be signing on to this or any other third-party-enforceable agreement. At Ecouterre, we like to think of Forever 21 as the honey badger of fashion retail—it just doesn’t give a shit.

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AMERICAN EAGLE OUTFITTERS

American Eagle Outfitters is a member of the Fair Labor Association, an independent monitoring agency that conducts external assessments of the companies it covers. Despite its assertions that the “people who make our clothes should be treated with dignity and respect,” American Eagle Outfitters is conspicuously absent from list of accord co-signatories.

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CARTER’S

In a ranking of 300 apparel brands by Not for Sale, a California-based nonprofit working to abolish human trafficking, Carter’s received a failing grade for not addressing child and forced labor in its supply chains. So it should come as little surprise to hear that the retailer has no intention of signing the Bangladesh safety pact.

Not for Sale gave Carter’s a failing grade for not addressing child and forced labor in its supply chains.

Carter’s was also among a number of brands that contracted That’s It Sportswear, a Bangladeshi factory that burned in December 2010, killing 29 workers and injuring scores more as a result of locked stairway doors that barred their escape.

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THE CHILDREN’S PLACE

Labor activists recovered documents and labels for The Children’s Place among the debris shortly after Rana Plaza’s collapse. Although the retail chain, which operates 1,100 stores, admitted that one of its suppliers was located in the building, it denied that any of its apparel was in production “at the time of this terrible tragedy.”

Labor activists recovered labels for The Children’s Place among the debris shortly after Rana Plaza’s collapse.

Like its fellow holdouts, The Children’s Place has decided to traffic in platitudes rather than meaningful action. “We are…working with our fellow retailers and other organizations to ensure appropriate measures are put in place to avoid future safety issues,” it said in a statement. “We will be evaluating a number of alternatives to support that goal—including participating in discussions with various industry and NGO groups—and will be active in supporting important, systemic reform.”

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FOOT LOCKER

Foot Locker’s presence in Bangladesh isn’t insignificant. Swan Group, which operated out of the Tazreen Fashions building, says it has made garments for the sportswear company. Still, Foot Locker, which owns 1,911 stores in 21 countries, has withheld its participation in the Bangladesh safety pact.

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JCPENNEY

To say that JCPenney and Bangladesh have a history would be an understatement. The chain store was one of the brands that manufactured its products at That’s It Sportswear, the factory that caught fire north of Dhaka in December 2010. Not only did JCPenney allegedly renege on compensating the victims of the disaster, but it’s also partners with Joe Fresh, the Canadian discount label that was manufacturing goods at Rana Plaza at the time of the collapse.

To say that JCPenney and Bangladesh have a history would be an understatement.

JCPenney plans to “beef up” audits of its factories in Bangladesh by requiring them for the first time to undergo structural and engineering inspections, according to Ken Mangone, Penney’s head of brand, design and sourcing, who spoke at the store’s annual meeting this month. “We’re going to require structural and engineering inspections in countries that have that kind of risk.”

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AÉROPOSTALE

Popular among the tween and teen demographic, Aéropostale sources from a raft of countries in the developing world, including Bangladesh. No word on whether it will sign the Bangladesh safety agreement, however.

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VF CORP.

VF Corp., which owns The North Face, Timberland, and Wrangler brands, is still using a Bangladesh factory where Walmart and Inditex inspectors discovered cracks in the wall earlier this month, reports Reuters.

VF Corp. is still using a factory that Walmart has “red-listed” for failing its safety audit.

VF confirmed on May 19 that it was still using Liz Apparels in Gazipur, near the capital Dhaka, to make its clothing despite the factory’s “red-listing” by Walmart for failing its safety audit. Inditex, which owns Zara, said it sent inspectors to the factory after seeing Walmart’s report. They too saw wall cracks, which the company plans to report to Bangladeshi authorities.

It doesn’t look like VF is fretting over the situation, however. “We are in daily contact with the facility and VF’s leadership is closely monitoring the status in this facility and others in our Bangladesh supply chain,” it said in a statement.