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Editorial: SAS needs to lend Likins, FLA more patience

By Wildcat Opinions Boards
Arizona Daily Wildcat,
April 4, 2000
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In an effort to stop a 10-day sit-in staged by Students Against Sweatshops last spring, UA President Peter Likins signed a resolution detailing steps the university should take to ensure fair labor practices.

The agreement was that the University of Arizona would withdraw its participation from the Fair Labor Association - a U.S. labor group to monitor companies that produce items overseas - unless they meet four provisions outlined in the resolution.

The provisions were full factory disclosure, creation of a living wage, protection of human rights and unannounced factory inspections.

One of these - factory disclosure - has been met, and the FLA has until August to meet the rest of the requirements, according to last year's resolution.

Nevertheless, SAS members continue to up their demands of Likins and the university.

Earlier this semester, SAS presented Likins with a 75-page book that included Nike's relationship with human rights, independent monitoring information and a FLA critique.

Even the spokeswoman for SAS, Lydia Lester, admitted Likins carefully read the material and is trying to pay attention to the organization's cause. But SAS still insists that Likins is not doing enough.

In February, SAS members undermined the labor rights resolution by demanding that Likins secede from the FLA and consider the Worker Rights Consortium as an alternative.

However, the WRC - a student-founded worker's rights monitoring organization - denied Likins' recent request to send a university representative to their founding conference Friday in New York.

The organization did so on the grounds that they already had too many people requested permission to attend the gathering and that the university is not a member of the WRC.

Likins made a concerted effort to comply with the requests of SAS members, thoroughly examined the documents put forth by the student organization and even went so far as to write a seven-page reply.

Moreover, he specifically requested that the WRC allow the University of Arizona to have student representation in its founding conference, which will include students, administrators and a six-member advisory council representing various interest groups.

Likins said he would consider dual membership in the FLA and the WRC, but that it would depend on the outcome of Friday's decision.

And he is right to wait for that information. It's the only rational option.

Too often has SAS jumped the gun on their own deadlines, re-setting timelines so often and inconsistently that it's unreasonable to expect full compliance. They demand things that are reasonable, but not for the time constraints they place on the UA.

SAS needs to wait on the WRC conference in order to adequately assess the situation. And while the August deadline is nearing more rapidly every day, SAS needs to wait for the university to be able to make a correct evaluation of the FLA's willingness to cooperate.

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