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UC Students Get Naked For Justice (3/1)
In symbolic protest against the use of sweatshops to make Univeristy of California collegiate apparel, students at 6 UCs including UC Santa Cruz, Berkeley, Santa Barbara, San Diego, Davis, and Riverside will be getting naked (or in their underwear) in front of their bookstores where collegiate apparel is sold on Wed, March 1st. UCSC's protest begins at 12:30pm and will take place at the base of the UCSC campus.
Stripping down to their skivvies, students at UC schools will be protesting sweatshop-made UC collegiate apparel. Bearing the slogan: “We tried to find sweat-free clothes in our bookstore and this is what we came out with” (i.e. nothing), students hope to highlight the widespread practice of producing collegiate apparel in factories with poor labor standards, said Kate StormoGipson a UC San Diego student activist affiliated with the nation wide student organization United Students Against Sweatshops (USAS). The March 1 action, part of a new Sweatfree Campus Campaign at the UC, will be 12:30pm to 12:30p.m. at the base of the UCSC campus.
Students at UC Davis, UC Berkeley, UC Riverside, UC Santa Barbara, and UC San Diego will take part in similar actions on their own campuses in a joint effort to pressure UC President Robert Dynes into adopting the Designated Suppliers Program (DSP). The DSP ensures campus collegiate apparel is produced in quality, “sweatfree” factories. Under the DSP universities require the labels from which they get their collegiate apparel (like Nike, Reebok, Adidas, and Champion) to source their goods from a list of designated suppliers, said Kate. “Designated suppliers” are factories that are known to respect workers’ rights to organize and provide sufficient, living wages, as identified by the Worker Rights Consortium (WRC), the only independent monitoring agency conducting factory investigations on behalf of 144 affiliated colleges and universities, including the University of California.
“Workers who have actually worked to get themselves a better life, better conditions are all in danger because the brands are no longer sourcing from them, aren’t giving them [their factories] orders,” said James Cain, a senior Ethnic Studies major at UC San Diego who spent last summer working in Cambodia for the WRC. “ I know this from personal experience because I spoke with workers in union federations.”
The Sweatfree Campus Campaign is part of a seven-year student struggle spearheaded by the United Students Against Sweatshops (USAS) to bring justice to the global garment industry. It calls on universities across the country to be responsible consumers. According to USAS, Universities’garment licensing contracts make up a 6 billion dollar industry and provide labels with valued advertising. This can be used as effective leverage to motivate labels to comply with universities’ demands for sweatfree apparel.
Today, students from more than 50 campuses have joined the nationwide Sweatfree Campus Campaign, demanding that their universities adopt the Designated Suppliers Program. The University of Madison, Wisconsin, University of Connecticut, University of Michigan, Santa Clara University, and Indiana University are among those that have adopted the program. The California Faculty Association has also endorsed the USAS Designated Suppliers Program.
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