group aims to raise awareness of sweatshops
By Marie Christensen
April 25, 2006 | The negative effects of sweatshops
may be hitting home more than some Utah State University
students may think. That's why a group of students is
taking a stand to fight for sweatshop-free labor conditions
and workers' rights.
The group is called the Utah State University-United
Students Against Sweatshops (USU-USAS) For the past
four months, since the organization was formed, 22 students
have been working to educate the university population
and community about the working conditions of garment
workers and the status of workers making USU apparel,
said Rachel Carroll-Larson, USU-USAS president.
"We are deeply concerned about sweatshop conditions
in factories that produce for companies that supply
the USU bookstore," Carroll-Larson said. "Workers making
university apparel face sweatshop conditions, abusive
treatment, excessive working hours, dangerous conditions
and wages that are inadequate to meet basic needs.
Currently, members of the club are campaigning for
USU to join the Workers Rights Consortium to ensure
that factories producing clothing and other goods bearing
the USU name or logo respect the basic rights of workers,
"This affiliation will help designate USU as a sweat-free
campus," she said.
USAS began the Sweat-Free Campus Campaign during fall
semester and is already endorsed by 650 professors across
the nation, according to the USAS Web site. The national
organization is also working on two other campaigns:
Ethical Contracting Campaign and National Campus Living
"Ultimately, we are using our power as students to
affect the larger industry that thrives in secrecy,
exploitation and the power relations that are in favor
of profits and not people, especially workers," Carroll-Larson
USU-USAS is still working with the administration
and are waiting for a decision to make USU a sweat-free
campus. In the mean time, members of the organization
are working to get USU affiliated with the Workers Rights
Consortium. This is a non-profit organization aimed
at assisting the enforcement of manufacturing Codes
of Conduct adopted by colleges and universities.
"We feel that our campaigns have gone well so far,"
Carroll-Larson said. "We have given students the opportunity
to act on their concerns, to learn more about these
issues, and gain skills in organizing, activism and
research through participation in our club."
For more information on joining USU-USUAS contact
Carroll-Larson at 797-5237 or usu- firstname.lastname@example.org.
Students are also invited to attend the club's weekly
meetings every other Wednesday at 4:30 in the Quad Side