By Chris Gill
March 8, 2013
For our faithful followers, you may recall an article a few weeks back that discussed the formation of a new group on campus, the Lock Haven University Chapter of United Students Against Sweatshops. Recently, club president Jesse Ballenger returned from the national conference in Miami.
The purpose of Ballenger’s trip was to learn more about the USAS on a national scale and to help spearhead ideas for their agenda this semester.
Ballenger said, “I didn’t really know much about the whole organization before that . . . and right now they’re in the middle of two campaigns.”
He explained the current national campaign against Adidas and the way that they refuse to pay severance to workers in impoverished countries.
“So what USAS is doing right now is they’re getting colleges or universities across the nation to pretty much cut their ties with Adidas and they’ve got eight or nine colleges that have cut their contracts,” said Ballenger.
Lock Haven does not have any ties with Adidas, but they could very well be involved with USAS’s second major campaign.
This is the campaign against the FLA (Fair Labor Association). According to the FLA preamble, “The FLA strives to be a global leader in establishing best practices for respectful and ethical treatment of workers, and in promoting sustainable conditions through which workers earn fair wages in safe and healthy workplaces.”
The problem that Ballenger points out is that they are supported by the same major corporations, namely ones like Adidas, that exploit workers.
“That is probably the fight that we want to bring to Lock Haven,” said Ballenger.
He explained that he wants to disassociate with the FLA and “associate with the WRC which is the Workers’ Rights Consortium.” He said that the WRC is a completely independent labor rights union that is relied upon heavily by the USAS.
One of the driving forces behind this movement and this organization is the empowerment of the students, and Ballenger wants to make it clear to the students of Lock Haven that they are empowered and can help make a difference.
“I feel like not many students understand that together, it is not impossible to make these companies realize our demands. The USAS has made several victories and they’ve brought these giant corporations to their knees,” said Ballenger.
If you find yourself with a need for social justice, the first meeting for the LHU chapter of USAS will be the first Thursday after spring break. Time and place will be announced at a later time. For more information contact Jesse Ballenger at firstname.lastname@example.org.
For national information about the USAS refer to their website at http://usas.org/.
Chris Gill is a junior majoring in secondary education and can be contacted at email@example.com