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UA labor rights task force members support SAS

By Ryan Gabrielson
Arizona Daily Wildcat,
February 22, 2000
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Although activists have pressed UA President Peter Likins to withdraw from the Fair Labor Association, the decision comes down to the university's Human and Labor Rights Task Force - which support the actions of Students Against Sweatshops.

The debate over whether the UA will remain a member of the Fair Labor Association or join the Worker Rights Consortium has intensified over the last two weeks.Last week, Students Against Sweatshops members protested outside Likins' office, and have threatened to hold other peaceful demonstrations.

The task force's job is to determine which policies and monitoring system are the most effective and to decide which the UA should endorse, said Andrew Silverman, law professor and task force member.

On Feb. 9, Students Against Sweatshops wrote a letter to Likins asking him to withdraw from the FLA - a recommendation that should come from the task force in accordance with an April resolution that ended SAS's last sit-in, Silverman said.

Even though SAS was trying to push the issue straight to Likins, Karen Anderson, history professor and task force member, said she was not upset at the action they took.

"I think it takes any committee about five months to learn how to tie its shoes, so advance notice is good," she said.

Silverman said groups like SAS have a right to be a part in the process.

"Any organization has the right to put out their views, to protest, to publicly express themselves," Silverman said.

Likins denied SAS's request, wishing to wait until August to compare the FLA to alternative monitoring systems.

As set out in the resolution signed by Likins - concluding the 10-day SAS sit-in - the FLA has until August 2000 to meet the four mandates agreed on by the two parties.

Those mandates are the creation of a living wage, the protection of women's rights, full disclosure of that factory locations make UA apparel, and the implementation of independent factory monitoring.

Thus far, the only action taken by Nike has been to disclose 41 factory locations.

"We're clearly making progress, there is disclosure occurring even though we have a way to go on that," Silverman said.

Carolyn Trowbridge, the task force's community member, said she is displeased with the FLA.

"The FLA has not been developing the way I envisioned they would," said Trowbridge, a Tucson Medical Center nurse. She added that she supported the efforts that SAS is making and the passion members display.

"Its good to be impatient and want something on the ground, and its important for the sweatshop workers," Trowbridge said. "I agree with them, (the FLA) kind of a diversion."

The FLA still has five months to prove its ability to complete the other three and recently named its first executive director, Sam Brown Jr.

When he was named director on Jan. 27, Brown said the FLA will have unannounced independent monitoring in the next six months.

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