slave labor

Workers Die in Building Collapse

Last Tuesday, a building in Dhaka, Bangladesh that housed five garment factories collapsed, resulting in more than 400 deaths and 2,500 injuries. Estimates are that possibly hundreds more are still missing. Cracks had appeared in the buildings walls the day before and polices ordered it evacuated. Factory managers, however, ordered workers to return. The factories primarily produced cheap clothing for western markets.

Protest rallies have been held this week in Bangladesh. Today, May Day, a procession demanded safe working conditions and the death penalty for the building’s owner, currently under arrest.

The Associated Press reported that Pope Francis commented on the tragedy in his Mass for the feast of Saint Joseph the Worker:

"At the Vatican, Pope Francis said he was shocked by a headline about the building collapse that said some of the workers were living on 38 euros [$50] a month. "This was the payment of these people who have died ... and this is called `slave labor,'" he said. Vatican Radio said the pope made the remarks during a private Mass at the Vatican."

Read the Associated Press report.

Moving Money: Investing in a New World

On Nov. 5 folks all over the world will divest from Wall Street and its banks … in order to invest in a better world.

Ideologies alone are not enough. There came a point in the movement to abolish slavery where ideology required responsibility. As one abolitionist said, “The only way to be a good slave-owner is to refuse to be a slave-owner.” To truly be against slavery also meant that you didn’t drink sugar in your tea, because sugar was produced with slave labor.

So on November 5, my wife and I will be joining the “Move Your Money” celebration, moving our money from Bank of America to the non-profit credit union here in Philadelphia.

It is one small step away from the vicious cycle that continues to see money transfer from the increasingly poor to the increasingly rich.

It is trying to take to heart Jesus’ command to “Get the log out” of my own eye.

It is a move towards Gandhi’s call to “Be the change you want to see in the world.”

It’s one little step towards being less of a hypocrite tomorrow than I am today.