Friday, April 12, 2024

Group to model for worker rights

April 4, 2001

Today Students for Economic Justice will model clothing that sports not the latest fashions - but highlights clothes the group claims are made in factories with unfair working conditions.

Student members will walk the runway in the Sweatshop Fashion Show at 12:15 p.m. today at Wells Hall.

“We will be talking about working conditions and the environment the workers are in at the factories making these clothes,” said Katie Young, an environmental biology freshman.

Young is a member of SEJ, a student-led movement against unfair labor conditions and universities involved with companies tied to sweatshop involvement.

The event is SEJ’s participation in the nationwide Student Labor Day of Action - a day to acknowledge the 33rd anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr.’s assassination.

There will be campus, labor and community groups joining together and more than 80 schools have committed to taking action on the day.

While there will be different stores named, including Gap, Disney and Nike, Young said the group is not urging people to boycott companies.

“We feel boycotting will only hurt the workers,” she said. “We just are trying to help the environment and get the best opportunities we can.”

Nike, a company that makes apparel for many universities - including MSU - has made statements in response to allegations of Nike’s sweatshop allegation.

On March 14, Nike released a statement in response to the Mexican factory Kukdong where workers are on strike.

“Nike is committed to continuously improving the way we do business around the world and Kukdong is no exception,” said Dusty Kidd, Nike\'s vice president for corporate Responsibility, in a written statement. “Kukdong management has been cooperating with Nike to improve their practices and to address issues of non-compliance in the factory.”

Jane Kilmer, a social work sophomore, hopes the fashion show will urge students to support SEJ’s campaign to urge MSU administration to sign on with the Worker Rights Consortium - a group established by students and human rights activists that appoints independent monitors to supervise labor conditions in overseas factories where MSU apparel is produced.

MSU is currently a member of the Fair Labor Association, a group SEJ criticizes for being too lenient in terms of its rules concerning human rights for factory workers.

“I hope students walk away with the knowledge that we need to be careful where we buy our clothes at because they could have been made in a sweatshop,” Kilmer said. “I also want them to be informed about our struggle to get MSU to sign on WRC.”

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