Student Anti-Sweatshop Labor Movement (1990s - 2010s)

Cornell University students campaign for severance pay for Nike employees, 2009-2010

Student Anti-Sweatshop Labor Movement (1990s - 2010s)
 

In January of 2009, subcontractors of the multinational sports apparel giant, Nike, forcibly shut down two of their major factories, Vision Tex and Hugger, in the Honduras. This left more than 1,800 laborers unemployed and without their legally entitled severance payments. The Workers Rights Consortium, an independent labor auditing organization, reported these concerns to over 100 universities in order to generate awareness of these issues, resulting in the formation of the nationwide student campaign, “Just Pay It.”

Brown University students support library workers’ bid to win contract, Rhode Island, 2010

Student Anti-Sweatshop Labor Movement (1990s - 2010s)
 

Brown University, a private Ivy League research university located in Providence, Rhode Island, enrolls nearly 9,000 students and employs over 1,500 workers, over a hundred of which are employed in the school’s libraries. The 2007-2010 collective bargaining agreement between the university and the United Service and Allied Workers Rhode Island (USAW-RI) Library Unit was officially set to conclude on 30 September 2010.

University of Iowa students campaign against sweatshops, 2000

Student Anti-Sweatshop Labor Movement (1990s - 2010s)
 

The year 1997 marked the start of a nation-wide anti-sweatshop movement led and fueled by college and university students from over 200 campuses. Inspired by early movements on Georgetown and University of Pennsylvania campuses and enraged by Bill Clinton’s attempt to mollify the public’s anger with the creation of the corrupt Fair Labor Union (FLA), University of Iowa students established a Students Against Sweatshops (SAS, or UISAS) chapter in 1999.

Tulane University students sit-in against sweatshop-produced apparel, 2000

Student Anti-Sweatshop Labor Movement (1990s - 2010s)
 

Beginning in January of 2000, Tulane University students formed a student organization on campus as a result of distress about sweatshop-made Tulane Apparel. The students were unhappy with the school’s membership with the Fair Labor Association (FLA), a sweatshop monitoring organization. They believed that the FLA was an organization that indirectly helped to preserve low wages, long hours, and unhealthy working conditions, like the ones found in sweatshops.

Yale University students protest sweatshop labor, 2000

Student Anti-Sweatshop Labor Movement (1990s - 2010s)
 

On 1 March 2000, 400 Yale University students rallied to demand that their administration withdraw from the Fair Labor Association (FLA) and join the Workers Rights Consortium (WRC) instead. Both organizations focused on monitoring sweatshop labor and apparel companies overseas to ensure that the workers in these companies receive fair treatment; however, universities across the country began to oppose the FLA and argue that it did not actually monitor the companies properly or ensure good working conditions for employees.

Macalester students stage sit-in to oppose sweatshop apparel, 2000

Student Anti-Sweatshop Labor Movement (1990s - 2010s)
 

Like students at many other colleges and universities at the turn of the millennium, students at Macalester College began to react against sweatshop and anti-union corporations that supplied the school store with apparel in 2000. Inspired by student activism at Duke University the previous year and a highly publicized sit-in at the University of Pennsylvania the previous month, Macalester students escalated their campaign on Monday morning, March 6, with a sit-in on the steps of the President’s office.

University of Kentucky students campaign against sweatshops, 1999-2000

Student Anti-Sweatshop Labor Movement (1990s - 2010s)
 

At the turn of the century, student groups on college campuses across the country began campaigns to push university administrations to hold their apparel suppliers accountable to fair labor practices. Many students had realized that many of the licenses that their schools had with large clothing companies included those that relied on sweatshop labor for production.

SUNY-Albany students protest campus sweatshop products, U.S., 2000

Student Anti-Sweatshop Labor Movement (1990s - 2010s)
 

Since 1996, a small number of State University of New York (SUNY) students had been urging the university administration to reject contracts with companies that had unfair labor policies. However, by 1999, students had made very little progress and campus stores still sold questionable sweatshop products.

Syracuse University students protest sweatshops, USA, 2000-2001

Student Anti-Sweatshop Labor Movement (1990s - 2010s)
 

In 2000, students around the country protested sweatshop-manufactured college apparel. Students at Syracuse University (SU) protested using a variety of different tactics, including a naked bicycle ride through campus. In their yearlong campaign, Syracuse students wished to convince SU’s Chancellor, Kenneth A. Shaw, to join the Worker Rights Consortium (WRC). Their ultimate goal, along with students nationwide, was better wages and better working conditions for workers who manufactured college apparel.

University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill students campaign against sweatshops, 1999

Student Anti-Sweatshop Labor Movement (1990s - 2010s)
 

The students’ anti-sweatshop movement began to generate support in the mid 90s, but was most impactful by the end of the decade. Universities and colleges nationwide began investigating where their college merchandise was made and inquiring about the manufacturers’ labor laws. The main target for many universities, including the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, was Nike because of their partnership with the athletic teams. UNC signed a 7.1 million dollar contract with Nike during the summer of 1997, thus committing to Nike products for the duration of their con

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