Laboring for change

In this guest column in the University of Maryland student newspaper, the writer recounts a successful campaign on the University of Maryland campus to get the University to end its contract with an athletic apparel company that was violating workers’ rights. She now suggests a “a broader solution that will encourage fundamental change.” Read the article here.

This year, we have already learned about violations at two Nike factories that produce collegiate apparel in which fired workers have been denied owed pay. We cannot stand by as more workers lose their jobs because they stood up for their rights. But we cannot simply cut individual contracts and expect industry-wide reform. We successfully punished Russell’s labor violations last semester, but now we need a broader solution that will encourage fundamental change. We have the power to ensure no university clothing supports unethical policies that harm workers; we just need a way to use it more effectively.

The solution is the Designated Suppliers Program, a plan that would use the licensing power of this university to provide incentives for companies to respect workers’ rights. The DSP would help prevent companies from deserting unionized factories by requiring apparel companies to send a certain percentage of their orders to factories with fair labor practices.

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