Press Release

BJ’s Wholesale Club Pledges Support to Help End Forced Labor in Uzbekistan

BJ’s signs the Cotton Pledge to help eliminate forced labor in Uzbek Cotton Fields

January 27, 2016 11:00 AM EST

WESTBOROUGH, Mass., January 27, 2016 -- BJ’s Wholesale Club, Inc., continues its opposition on the use of forced labor by joining over 200 other brands and companies in signing the Cotton Pledge, managed by Responsible Sourcing Network (RSN). Under this pledge, BJ’s has agreed to not knowingly source Uzbek cotton for the manufacturing of any of its products until the Government of Uzbekistan ends the practice of forced labor in its cotton sector.

“As a retailer that includes a quality apparel and home goods assortment, we must continue to send the message that any form of forced labor is unacceptable whether it’s in Uzbekistan or any country,” said Scott Williams, Assistant Vice President of Quality Assurance and Environmental Stewardship. “At BJ’s, we operate with integrity by ensuring our merchandise team works with vendors who do not use manufacturing practices that rely on forced labor or unsafe working conditions in our supply chain.”

While forced labor in cotton production remains endemic in many countries, nowhere is it more organized than in Uzbekistan, where the Uzbek government forces over one million citizens to labor in the country’s cotton fields each year. The government shuts down universities and public offices for months at a time, mobilizes the country’s students, teachers, and civil servants, and sends them to the cotton fields every autumn. Due to the support of apparel and home goods companies, collaborative efforts have had an impact. The Uzbek government has stopped sending the youngest children, ages 7 – 15, to the cotton fields, but there is still more work to be done. The system needs to be reformed to end all forms of forced labor and coercion.

“BJ’s is taking a leading role by signing the Cotton Pledge. Removing materials made with forced labor from global supply chains is an arduous task, but it is possible when signatories such as BJ’s join in an industry-wide effort calling for change. Each signatory makes our world one step closer to eradicating modern slavery,” says Patricia Jurewicz, Director of Responsible Sourcing Network.

To learn more about Responsible Sourcing Network’s Cotton Program and how to help, visit http://www.sourcingnetwork.org/cotton/.

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About the Responsible Sourcing Network
Responsible Sourcing Network (www.sourcingnetwork.org) is a project of the nonprofit organization As You Sow (www.asyousow.org). RSN is dedicated to ending human rights abuses and forced labor associated with the raw materials found in products we use every day. RSN supports network stakeholders in leveraging their influence to achieve significant and measurable solutions in the areas of conflict minerals, cotton sourcing, and slave labor. To stay updated with RSN, be sure to follow us on Twitterand Facebook.