Students kept busy at USAS Summer Convention

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by Troy Neves, USAS Local #115 Northeastern University, Regional Organizer Representative to the Coordinating Committee

As USAS students gear up for another year of fighting corporate greed on our campuses and around the globe, it’s a great time to reflect on the work some students kept busy with at our Summer Convention.

Over the weekend of August 9th and 10th, USASers from around the country gathered once again in Washington DC to celebrate our victories, plan our next steps, and support one another.  On Friday night, students attended the first USAS Student Labor Movement Gala, a celebration of USAS and our supporters as we enter our 18th year.  Students, alumni, and allies gathered at the International Brotherhood of Teamsters building to share stories, meet allies, and hear speakers, such as Elizabeth Shuler, Secretary-Treasurer of the AFL-CIO.

We were also proud to show our solidarity with T-Mobile retail and call center workers who are organizing for union neutrality in their workplaces. Workers are organizing because of sweatshop-like conditions in their call centers — they sometimes aren’t even allowed to go to the bathroom without strict monitoring, creating an extremely high stress environment. Our catchy flash mob called on T-Mobile to stop union busting and allow workers to organize for their rights.

Throughout the rest of the weekend, we sharpened our skills, built community in our caucuses, and voted on proposals.  At the end of the weekend, four proposals passed with a two-thirds majority.

  • USAS passed a Sexual Assault Policy that focuses on the safety and dignity of survivors who are a part of our movement.
  • USAS officially stands in solidarity with the people of Palestine and supports the work of our allies in the BDS movement and all of those who resist the occupation in Palestine.
  • USAS will continue our research and planning around Student-Worker Organizing on our campuses.
  • Lastly, USAS has established a student committee to identify members with skills in categories like media, arts, and coalition-building that will work to support these students’ leadership.

Thank you to everyone who could make it to DC for the Summer Convention.  As USAS enters into “adulthood” we are planning big things for the future.  I am personally looking forward to seeing everyone in Knoxville, Tennessee for the 18th Annual USAS National Conference in February 2015!