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View Diary: Gap's reputation collapse (31 comments)

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  •  I worked for the (5+ / 0-)

    Gap at their corporate headquarters in SF during the 80's as a print production manager in their marketing dept. They we're mainly using  Saipan/ Singapore, China at that time for their private label garment production. Part of my job was designing the labels for the various lines of clothes to be produced. One line's label featured a drawing of a sail boat and the workers in China translated the cute sail boat into a picture of a Chinese Junk. I often wonder what happened to the poor artist in China who made the template.  

    When I worked for them there were only 1000 Gap stores globally most in the US. Don Fisher who started the Gap and was then CEO was a real terror of an asshole who would come down to the marketing art dept in a rage and knock over all the mocked up store display artwork with his cane. He'd yell at me about Joe Sixpack's taste one day and in the next rampage he'd shout about how we needed to be like their competition, the trendy Esprit.

    I could not keep local free lance artists and vendors as they had a policy of not paying invoices for 90 days due to their stock market investments. The workers at their corporate headquarters were not treated well and they had a huge turnover of personnel.  

    This does not surprise  me as they we're headed in this direction back then.  They started out as a hippie SF store that sold records and jeans in the late 60's. The Fisher family like the Walton's actively control this giant retailer/manufacturer.

    Labor practices

    In 2003, a class action law suit against Gap and 21 other companies alleged that sweatshop workers in Saipan were not paid for overtime work, were subjected to forced abortion, and were required to work in unsafe working conditions. A settlement of 20 million dollars was reached whereby The Gap did not admit liability.

    In May 2006, adult and child employees of Western, a supplier in Jordan, were found to have worked up to 109 hours per week and to have gone six months without being paid. Some employees claimed they had been raped by managers. Most of these allegations were directed at Wal-Mart (who mostly ignored the claims), while Gap immediately looked into the matter to remedy the situation.

    On October 28, 2007, BBC footage showed child labor in Indian Gap factories. The company denied knowledge of the happenings; it subsequently removed and destroyed the single piece of clothing in question, a smock blouse, from a British store. Gap promised to investigate breaches in its ethical policy.

    Bangladeshi and international labor groups in 2011 put forth a detailed safety proposal which entailed the establishment of independent inspections of garment factories. The plan called for inspectors to have the power to close unsafe factories. The proposal entailed a legally binding contract between suppliers, customers and unions. At a meeting in 2011 in Dhaka, major European and North American retailers, including Gap, rejected the proposal. Further efforts by unions to advance the proposal after numerous and deadly factory fires have been rejected.

    •  No defense of Don Fisher. (0+ / 0-)

      But the Wikipedia entry contains material falsehoods.  The 2007 incident (which was shamelessly hyped by Barbara Ehrenreich) was an outlier. It involved an unapproved sub-contractor that used child labor, in clear violation of the contractor's agreement with Gap. What this entry omits is that Gap not only destroyed the merchandise (and the child labor was only involved in one part of the garment), Gap paid the children directly and funded their K-12 education.  They didn't cut off the supplier, because they would lose leverage over them to enact change.

      I was in Gap HQ working for a contractor when this story broke.  I knew people who were involved with this--progressive people from the SF Bay area who cared very much about this.

      Gap has received high marks for their CSR policies with overseas suppliers from independent watchdog groups.  I disagree with their stance in the present tragedy--but can we please remember that they weren't involved.  

      First and foremost--go after the real criminals.  Gap isn't the worst offender in this industry.  

      (That sound you are hearing is a paradigm being shifted at Warp Factor Infinity using no clutch.)

      by homogenius on Wed May 22, 2013 at 08:38:29 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

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