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SAS stances were misinterpreted by Wildcat

By Tim Bartley
Arizona Daily Wildcat,
November 2, 1999
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To the editor,

Last Thursday, Students Against Sweatshops (SAS) decided to allow the press at its business meetings by invitation only. The reason for this decision was to allow people attending meetings to feel comfortable discussing issues freely, without worrying about a tentative statement or question going "on the record."

However, the Wildcat reporter's account of the portion of the SAS meeting he did attend suggests another reason to be wary of press presence in meetings: He seriously misrepresented the content of the meeting and misquoted SAS members.

In the meeting, SAS members discussed a new way for universities to end their complicity in the operation of sweatshops - a monitoring system called the Workers' Rights Consortium (WRC).

The overwhelming sentiment expressed in the meeting was that the WRC is far superior to the flawed Fair Labor Association (FLA), of which the UA is currently a member.

SAS members pointed out, among other things:

(1) that the WRC empowers workers while the FLA empowers powerful corporations

(2) that universities have more substantial representation in the WRC than in the FLA

(3) that the WRC, more than the FLA, seems to conform to the letter and spirit of President Likins' "Commitments Relating to Sweatshops" of last spring.

Regardless of the extremely positive tone of SAS members' discussion of the WRC, the Wildcat reported that SAS was hesitant and concerned about the WRC. The Wildcat did this largely by printing statements completely out of context.

The Wildcat reported: "[Tim] Bartley said the WRC is the Fair Labor Association with teeth.'" I don't recall if I used the phrase "with teeth" or not, but I know that I never suggested that there were only minor differences between the WRC and FLA.

On the contrary, I noted that there were substantial differences in the role of universities in the two monitoring systems. And other SAS members pointed out that the philosophy behind the WRC is radically different than that behind the FLA.

Tim Bartley

Students Against Sweatshops,

U of A Taskforce on Monitoring Labor and Human Rights Issues,

Sociology graduate student

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