The Labor Department has added a major national retailer, Gap Inc., to its list of "good guy" businesses that have pledged to take extra precautions to avoid selling garments produced in sweatshops.
Agency officials hope enlisting the big-name San Francisco-based company will encourage other apparel retailers and manufacturers to join its new campaign to squeeze out rogue contractors that violate labor laws.
Joining the roster--officially known as the Fair Labor Fashion Trendsetter list--are Gap and GapKids, along with the company's two other retailing divisions, Banana Republic and the Old Navy Clothing Store.
The Labor Department's action was triggered by an agreement the retailer signed with the National Labor Committee, a New York-based group that organized nationwide demonstrations against abuses reported at Central American factories producing Gap merchandise. Under the pact, Gap will allow independent monitors to inspect conditions at its Central American contractors' plants.
Although the Labor Department's recently launched trendsetter program has focused on domestic contracting practices, agency officials leaped at the opportunity to add Gap to the good guys list.
The trendsetters program got off to a controversial start when the first list included the names of only 31 businesses--some previously accused of using sweatshop contractors.