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Garment Worker Solidarity

BACKGROUND

USAS is committed to organizing in solidarity with garment workers to fight sweatshop conditions such as poverty wages, forced overtime, sexual harassment, union busting, and health and safety violations in the global apparel industry

Since our organization was founded in 1997, USAS has identified the reckless business practices of apparel brands as the root cause of sweatshops. We also know that the only way to beat the brands and end sweatshop conditions is to help build a global labor movement that can take on the real bosses of the apparel industry on a transnational scale.

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USAS members march with Nike workers from Honduras in Portland, OR to demand the company pay over $2 million in legally mandated severance wages. May 2010.

Using our unique leverage as students attending colleges and universities with multimillion-dollar apparel programs, USAS has run campaigns on campuses across the country to force apparel brands to respect workers rights. First, we demanded that our universities tell brands to disclose the locations of the factories producing collegiate apparel; then we pushed universities to adopt labor codes of conduct that set minimum standards for collegiate apparel production; then we compelled our schools to affiliate with the Worker Rights Consortium (WRC), the only independent apparel monitoring organization.

Using all of these tools, USAS has waged strategic struggles alongside garment worker unions in the global South to demand that brands respect workers’ rights to living wages and safe working conditions, as well as the right to form democratic unions. Through international solidarity, USAS and workers have been able to achieve some of the anti-sweatshop movement’s landmark victories.

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USAS members lead a delegation to the headquarters of The Children’s Place with Rana Plaza survivor, Mahinur Begum, and Kalpona Akter, Executive Director of the Bangladesh Center for Worker Solidarity. May 2015.

SOLIDARITY WITH WORKERS IN BANGLADESH

In fall of 2013, United Students Against Sweatshops launched the “End Deathtraps” campaign in response to the massive worker safety crisis in the Bangladesh garment industry – a crisis that has killed at least 1,500 garment workers since 2012. The goal of this campaign is to force college-logo apparel brands to sign the Bangladesh Safety Accord, a binding contract between apparel companies and global and Bangladeshi unions, signed by over 200 brands and retailers worldwide, that would require brands to take responsibility for safety in their subcontracted factories in a meaningful way to transform the garment industry from deathtraps to safe workplaces. Read more at www.northfacedeathtraps.com.

NIKE: JUST DO THE RIGHT THING

Currently, USAS members across the country are targeting global apparel giant, Nike, for the brand’s refusal to allow independent watchdog organizations, like the Worker Rights Consortium (WRC), access to inspect any of its supplier factories. Nike sources its apparel from 680 factories scattered all over the world, and has a long history of allowing labor violations to take place in these factories. Not only would blocking independent monitoring have a devastating impact on tens of thousands of garment workers who manufacture Nike apparel, but this decision undermines the integrity of University licensing programs. Nike can not be trusted to monitor working conditions in its own factories, especially as troubling labor violations continue to surface. In response, students are taking action on their campuses to demand Nike change its position independent labor monitoring, or lose the right to make college apparel. Visit www.nikesweatshops.org to learn more.

Pablo, union member at the Alta Gracia factory, holds a UW sweatshirt made in the factory

Pablo, union member at Alta Gracia, holds a UW sweatshirt made in the factory

ALTA GRACIA: A UNION-MADE ALTERNATIVE

While we’re continuing to target brands that rely on sweatshop labor to manufacture college apparel, there is one brand we encourage colleges and Universities to purchase for their bookstores. Alta Gracia is the only  union-made, living-wage apparel available for the college market. Made in the Dominican Republic, Alta Gracia was formed by workers who previously lost their jobs when brands like Nike, retaliated against them for organizing. Now these same workers enjoy a living wage and a voice in their working conditions as union members. However, these workers need business from our schools! Contact email hidden; JavaScript is required to learn how you can ensure Alta Gracia is being sold in your campus bookstore. Click here to read more about why Alta Gracia is unique for workers.

We need students like you! Contact email hidden; JavaScript is required to learn how you can join our global fight today.

Latest Updates

  • kentstatewrcVICTORY! Kent State Commits to Affiliate with WRC

    After eight months of campaigning, we are delighted to report that Kent State University has committed to affiliate with the Worker Rights Consortium!

  • 1024x512_CCC tweeter shared photo_finalCall to Action: Tell H&M #WeNeed177 in Cambodia

    All workers deserve a living wage! While we’re fighting for $15 across the U.S., Cambodian unions are leading a historic campaign to raise their federal minimum wage.

  • IMG_7656What Did Nike Just Do?

    What did Nike just do? Students across the country are taking action against apparel giant, Nike, for their shocking new scheme to hide their sweatshop abuses. Click here to learn more and find out how you join us in this critical fight.

  • rana-plaza_0-500x300We did it! Rana Plaza Fund reaches $30 million goal

    Roughly two years following the now infamous Rana Plaza factory collapse, a fund established for victims and their families has finally been filled.

  • 10410674_10152653058503960_2947152324636293676_nStudents kept busy at USAS Summer Convention

    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.