The Daily Cardinal - October 4, 2007

SLAC delivers Wiley 'face-to-face' demands

By: Shira Nanus

Members of the UW-Madison Student Labor Action Coalition delivered a 6-foot-tall blowup of Chancellor John Wiley's face to Bascom Hall Wednesday in protest of the university's continued athletic-apparel contract with Adidas.

UW-Madison's Student Labor Action Coalition requests Chancellor John Wiley cut the Adidas athletic apparel contract for violations of code of conduct.

The Student Labor Action Coalition delivered "face-to-face" demands Wednesday to Chancellor John Wiley, insisting he cut UW-Madison's athletic apparel contract with Adidas.

Students gathered outside Bascom Hall before delivering a 6-foot-tall cutout of Wiley's face and written demands to the Office of the Chancellor.

SLAC requests a written response from Wiley regarding these demands within seven days.

The current Adidas contract, which pays for uniforms and athletic equipment, runs through 2011 and is worth about $1.2 million per year.

Adidas, a licensee with the university, signed a code of conduct as part of their contract regarding the treatment of workers.

In 2005, Hermosa Manufacturing, a former Adidas subcontractor in Apopa, El Salvador, closed, which left 260 workers dismissed without receiving about $825,000 in back pay, according to University Communications. Additionally, workers who tried to unionize may have been blacklisted, preventing them from being hired for other jobs in the region.

According to SLAC members, Adidas has breached its code of conduct in the form of human rights violations, yet in their opinion, no appropriate action to cut the contract has been taken.

Matt Johnson, a UW-Madison junior and SLAC member, said that by not cutting the contract, Wiley is "sending the message to Adidas and to all other brands that codes of conduct are meaningless slips of paper that can be trampled all over."

SLAC has protested many times before on behalf of the Hermosa workers, most memorably by delivering a giant papier-mâché boot to the chancellor in February 2007, as a message to "give Adidas the boot."

"That sort of indirect cute prop hasn't made any difference, the chancellor is not listening and he's not feeling the pressure," Jan Van Tol, a UW-Madison junior and SLAC member said. "With this were trying to take things up a notch and show him that he really is the one responsible for what happens to these workers and we are going to hold him responsible."

Wiley sent Dawn Crim, acting special assistant to the chancellor, to investigate the situation in April 2007.

According to the university's labor licensing website, UW-Madison committed to spend an additional $20,000 of its 2006-'07 licensing royalty revenue over the summer to continue monitoring and evaluating workers' rights in El Salvador.

A Sept. 28 meeting led by Crim discussed these efforts and updated Labor Licensing Policy Committee members on the Hermosa situation. Yet, Johnson said, "In reality, the progress she laid out hasn't brought any changes in for the workers."

This is SLAC's first big demonstration of the school year, and members say they will continue taking action throughout the rest of the semester.

"It is a new year, and students are saying we didn't forget about this over the summer," said Chynna Hass, a UW-Madison sophomore and SLAC member.

"It's something that's still going on and we're still demanding that we deal with it because it's not appropriate even though three months have past."

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