from The Daily Cardinal - 3/22/04

Ralliers seek proof of disclosure

By Amelia Buragas

Media Credit: Ryan Seal/The Daily Cardinal
Students rip open a symbolic corporate book representing the exposure of labor wages during a wage disclosure rally on Bascom Hill Thursday, March 11, 2004.

Members of the Student Labor Action Coalition demanded that corporate suppliers of university apparel disclose worker's wages during a rally March 11.

Despite freezing temperatures, a group of about 15 students gathered on Bascom Hill Friday afternoon to publicize the establishment of the National Coalition for Wage Justice, which is a new branch of United Students Against Sweatshops.›UW-Madison sophomore Liana Dalton handed out flyers to passing students. Dalton has worked with SLAC since she came to campus and said they are calling on the administration to request wage disclosure from licensees and to "force the corporations to do something."

"Labor issues are central to living standards," Dalton said.›"As an institutional power it is important that we use that power in a constructive manner."

The main event during the rally was the symbolic opening of a corporate book.›UW-Madison student Joel Feingold used a crowbar to tear off a cardboard padlock, while other demonstrators chanted "open the books."›Inside, the book read "Cheap Sweatshop Labor = Massive Corporate Profits."

After "opening the book" the group walked to Chancellor John Wiley's office with half of a chocolate cake.›UW-Madison sophomore Josh Healey said they brought Wiley half of a cake to thank him for his commitment to wage disclosure and will give him the other half after the university takes action.› Wiley was out of the office and his staff accepted the cake for him.

"I think that as students we have a responsibility to make sure that the world around us is a place of justice and freedom.›We have to stand up and say 'no that's not ok,'" Healey said.

This National Coalition for Wage Justice action comes after Wiley's January decision to push for wage disclosure, said Special Assistant to the Chancellor Lamarr Billups. Wiley agreed to pursue disclosure at the request of the student and faculty Labor Licensing Policy Committee and has asked the Workers Rights Consortium, an independent monitoring group, to devise a protocol to help in collecting the data.›The University, said Billups, will start "with the top 10 licensees."

UW-Madison currently pays the Workers Rights Consortium $13,000 annually to monitor factories and to ensure they abide by the labor codes established in contracts with licensees.

Simultaneous rallies were also held at the University of Michigan, Duke University, Georgetown University, Columbia University, and Indiana University.›During the rally, UW-Madison students called administrators from these other campuses to express their solidarity and to encourage them to adapt a wage disclosure policy.

This Wednesday and Thursday, the LLPC will meet on campus with some of the university's top licensees, such as ADIDAS, to discuss implementing wage disclosure policies.

see also: Some pictures from "Open the Books" March 11, 2004

the "Open the Books" press release

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SLAC index page