Sweatshops up for debate in gubernatorial candidates’ forum

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AUGUSTA, Maine (AP) — A former garment industry worker in Bangladesh was among those who attended a forum for Maine gubernatorial candidates on international trade policies.

The three candidates who attended Tuesday’s forum — Democrats Pat McGowan, Libby Mitchell and Steve Rowe — all expressed support for policies Maine has adopted to encourage purchases of clothing made in non-sweatshop conditions.

A representative for Republican candidate Les Otten also expressed support. The other six Republican candidates weren’t represented.

Maine is one of nine states that demands from its vendors products made in fair labor conditions.

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Bangladeshi worker advocate Kalpona Akter, who went to work in garment factories when she was 12, spoke of conditions that include long hours, frequent fires and a minimum wage of $24 per month.

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