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Sweatshops not worthy of trust

By Jennie Mahalick
Arizona Daily Wildcat,
February 4, 2000
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To the editor,

In the 2/2/00 issue of the Arizona Daily Wildcat, President Likins stated, "The question that is haunting this long dialogue [over sweatshops] is: Can you work with the corporations, or are they unworthy of that trusting collaboration?" Knowing that the President of my university is exploring a "trusting collaboration" with anyone that exploits workers and the environment disturbs me. To gain more money, corporations use sweatshops that pay ridiculously low wages and are set up in countries with weak environmental standards. This is not in dispute! United Students Against Sweatshops have sent delegations to various sweatshop factories. I have seen many of these student's videos. These factories are surrounded by barbed wire and armed guards. Students are kept out by force. Safely away from factories, workers (young women of color) describe sexual harassment, physical abuse, extreme overtime, unsafe working conditions, no health benefits and racist insults from foreign managers. These women have been fired and had their lives threatened for attempting to organize unions. Clearly, the corporations in question cannot be trusted. A monitoring system is necessary to guard against corporate exploitation. The FLA, Likins' preferred monitoring system, is dominated by the corporations we do not trust.

This is a blatant conflict of interest! Furthermore, the issue of announced visits is not a "moot" point. The FLA charter only calls for unannounced visits to occur at a small percentage of designated factories.

The FLA does not call for full public disclosure of factory locations. The Campaign for Fair Labor Rights distributed a report explaining Nike's disclosure of "model" factories only. The FLA does not do any of the following, while the WRC does: aid workers in protecting their rights, provide truly independent monitoring, give students and universities a fair voice, make reports public or issue sanctions determined by people without corporate influences. The FLA can easily cover up abuses and has motive to do so. Awareness is lacking when "trusting collaboration" with exploitative, money hungry, uncaring people is attempted.

Jennie Mahalick

History senior

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