A Brief History of the Anti-Sweatshop Movement
In the late 1990s, an anti-sweatshop movement swept campuses across the United States. College activists marched in rallies, waged hunger strikes, circulated petitions, and occupied their school presidentís office, all in an effort to make their campus clothing sweat-free. They were remarkably successful in their efforts. Today, 160 colleges and universities have taken a first step by becoming affiliated with the Worker Rights Consortium (WRC).
In doing so, each school has created and adopted its own manufacturing Code of Conduct that guarantees workers basic human rights. To help with enforcement of these Codes of Conduct, the United Students Against Sweatshops created a Designated Suppliers Program (DSP), where factories had to earn DSP certification by demonstrating that they, among other things, pay their workers a living wage and allow them to form democratic unions. Thirty schools, including Columbia, Cornell, Georgetown, Duke, and the entire UC system, have taken this second step and are all part of the DSP.
Whereís Stanford in all this?
Unfortunately, Stanford is neither a part of the WRC or the DSP, and it has historically been opposed to participating in either organization.
What can we do?
As students, we have an unusual amount of leverage against the university. Colleges and universities are supposed to serve the interests of its students. But, if students donít stand up and make their voices heard, these institutions can go astray, perhaps even to the point where they will implicitly condone the manufacture of their clothing in sweatshops by turning the other cheek. As indicated by recent history, the efforts of thousands of college students have helped thousands of workers around the world earn a living wage. It is our duty, as Stanford students, to do the sameóto put our university on the right track by ensuring that the workers who make our clothing are treated with dignity and respect.
To Learn More About the Campaign Across the Nation click here.
To Learn More About the Designated Suppliers Program click here.