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Kenneth Cole. Is it the shoes?

April 30, 2012

H/T NYC Educator

The picture of the billboard showed up on lots of Facebook and blog sites this weekend.

Kenneth Cole, shoe monger and brother-in-law of New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, put up the billboards. They showed a picture of a woman in red with lots of cleavage and a message that teacher unions didn’t care about students. Odd juxtaposition of message and image.

Kenneth Cole doesn’t like unions.

In fact, Cole is complicit in the murder of union organizers in the third world countries where his shoes are made.

Aminul Islam, a head of the Bangladesh Centre for Worker Solidarity (BCWS) and the Bangladesh Garment and Industrial Workers Federation, disappeared from the country’s main textile center of Ashulia on Wednesday after receiving a call from a worker requesting assistance.

“His legs had severe torture marks including a hole made by a sharp object. All his toes were broken,” the local police chief told AFP.

Police discovered his body dumped by a roadside Friday, reportedly burying it in “a state-run graveyard the next day after finding no claimant.”

BCWS’ Kalpona Akter, who was arrested and imprisoned along with Islam in 2010 on charges related to their labor activism, accused Bangladeshi security forces and garment firm owners of responsibility for her colleague’s murder.

Islam, 40, had fought for years to organize garment workers to push for higher wages and safer factories, forcing one of the worst paying countries in the world to increase the minimum wage in 2010. Last month the BCWS was featured in an ABC News investigation into labor violations in Bangladesh’s apparel industry.

The ABC story focused on a 2011 factory fire that killed 29 workers and led Phillips-Van Heusen to commit more than $1 million to improving standards in the factories that produce clothing for many of the world’s most recognizable brands including Calvin Klein, Nautica, Kenneth Cole and Timberland.

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