In an effort to build solidarity within a movement that extends beyond the walls of our Chapel Hill community, SAW became an affiliate member of United Students Against Sweatshops when SAW started in 2003. The following is a bio of USAS, taken from their website.
United Students Against Sweatshops is an international student movement of campuses and individual students fighting for sweatshop free labor conditions and workers’ rights. We define ‘sweatshop’ broadly and recognize that it is not limited to the apparel industry, but everywhere among us. We believe that university standards should be brought in line with those of its students who demand that their school’s logo is emblazoned on clothing made in decent working conditions. We have fought for these beliefs by demanding that our universities adopt ethically and legally strong codes of conduct, full public disclosure of company information and truly independent verification systems to ensure that sweatshop conditions are not happening. Ultimately, we are using our power as students to affect the larger industry that thrives in secrecy, exploitation, and the power relations of a flawed system.
USAS coordinates two major areas of campaign work: the Sweatfree Campus Campaign, which we run in solidarity with garment workers who make our licensed collegiate apparel; and Campus Worker Solidarity campaigns which we run in solidarity with campus and community workers.
The abuse of sweatshop labor is among the most blatant examples of the excesses and exploitation of the global economy. We recognize, however, that the term “sweatshop” is not limited to the apparel industry as traditionally conceived; sweatshop conditions exist in the fields, in the prisons, on our campuses, in the power relations of a flawed system. Thus, we consider all struggles against the systemic problems of the global economy to be directly or by analogy a struggle against sweatshops.
United Students Against Sweatshops is a grassroots, youth run, student labor organization. We have approximately 200 affiliated high schools, colleges, and universities, and contacts on over 400 campuses. Our governing board is a coordinating committee of 13 students who are elected at our national summer conferences by the entire membership. USAS also employs part-time regional organizers. These regional organizers are students who are charged with keeping in touch with the students in their regions, providing them with resources, and connecting them to the national office. USAS currently has three staff members and offices in Washington D.C. and New York City. USAS’ unique organizing model uses the leverage of students to harness the power of educational institutions in order to stand in solidarity with the struggles of working people in our communities and across the world.