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Anti-Sweatshop Activism at USC

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In the late 1990s, United Students Against Sweatshops did some really great work around fighting the exploitative system of the apparel industry by placing pressure on colleges and universities to ethically source their school-licensed apparel. Then, with 9/11 and the Iraq War, economic justice question largely fell far down the priority list for the progressive agenda and USAS and other groups working on these issues went into a tough period. Now, they are again on the rise and again demanding ethically-produced clothing from their schools. Right now, this is happening at USC:

For the second day in a row, students on Wednesday protested in front of Tommy Trojan against the university administration and called for USC to cut ties with companies that employ sweatshop labor.

The protesters are members of the Student Coalition Against Labor Exploitation, or SCALE. SCALE members singled out Jansport, the clothing and accessories company, and accused Jansport’s parent company of relying on sweatshop labor in Bangladesh.

The protest comes one day after students descended upon the office of Pres. C.L. Max Nikias — a dramatic move that particpants say prompted university officials to call their parents and threaten to revoke financial aid packages.

Very classy of the university to threaten students for their activism. That’s the kind of inclusive and respectful leadership I know from university administrations in my personal experience. USC claims they do require apparel to not be made in sweatshops. But the students want the university to only work with companies who sign the Accord on Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh, which is the agreement that European manufacturers have agreed to join to try and ensure no more Rana Plaza factory collapses. American companies of course have refused because it is legally binding and we know that American corporations believe they should be able to do whatever they want to workers with no legal repercussions. Glad to see the USC students taking the fight to their campus.

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  • So-in-so

    We can hope – another generation that learns activism as more than forwarding a tweet. It appears there is a lot to do just to get back to the status pre-Reagan.

  • Ns

    So what happens to the workers when sweat shops close?

  • Very classy of the university to threaten students for their activism. That’s the kind of inclusive and respectful leadership I know from university administrations in my personal experience.

    This is that radical left-wing academia that I hear so much about, right?

  • Stag Party Palin

    a dramatic move that particpants [sic] say prompted university officials to call their parents and threaten to revoke financial aid packages.

    While I don’t believe this is impossible, it certainly ranks very high on the stupid scale, and I would want to hear more before believing it.

  • Tommy

    USC signed an exclusive, ten year deal with Jerry Jones’ Silver Star Merchandising back in 2011. The vast majority of USC licensed apparel available to the public is through Silver Star, which does not give a fuck about working conditions at their suppliers.

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