Sept. 29, 2005 – College students across the country yesterday kicked off a campaign aimed at forcing 40 different institutions to abandon tacit approval of sweatshop labor practiced by the worldâ€™s largest collegiate apparel providers. Organized by United Students Against Sweatshops (USAS), the campaign is calling on the colleges and universities to require companies that license school-logo garments to commit to providing safe work conditions and a living wage.
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The Sweat-Free Campus Campaign is the second leg of the student groupâ€™s seven-year-long battle to force higher education institutes in the United States to reject garments made by people earning poverty wages in dangerous factories. Child labor and coerced work are common in the sweatshops of Southeast Asia and South America where many of the clothes are made.
As part of the agreement USAS is trying to force universities and colleges to accept, licensees would have to demonstrate respect for workersâ€™ rights to form unions and other associations. In addition, both the apparel company and school would have to assent to monitoring and compliance measurement and enforcement by the Workers Rights Consortium, an association of students, academics and college administrators at over 100 schools working to expand workersâ€™ rights throughout the world.
The USAS is engaged in a number of national and international campaigns to extend labor rights, including an ongoing effort to force the Coca Cola Company into recognizing unions in Turkey and Indonesia.
An affiliate of the Campaign to Stop Killer Coke, USAS also alleges that the company supports death squads in Columbia. In May, Rutgers University opted to sever its deal with the company rather than endure pressure from students in the campaign.