Tuesday, Jul 29, 2014 02:37 am est

International labor campaign begins at NYU

Posted on February 5, 2013 | by Tatiana Baez

Bryan Nelson for WSN

Last night, former sweatshop workers spoke to the NYU community at the Kimmel Center for University Life, the first stop on a nationwide tour to raise awareness about poor international working conditions at international clothing corporations like Adidas and Nike.

Spearheaded by United Students Against Sweatshops, the event featured Telemarque Pierre and Yannick Etienne from Haiti and Raquel Lauarro from Honduras. The speakers shared their stories of working in sweatshops.

Several organizations sponsored the event, including NYU College Democrats and the NYU DREAM Team and was hosted by the Student Labor Act-ion Movement (SLAM). The campaign comes after several colleges and universities severed their ties with Adidas, which manufactures collegiate apparel for NYU.

Alexandra Cardinale, Steinhardt freshman and member of College Democrats, said that she hoped the event would raise awareness for global issues.

“These issues of international development do not have nearly enough support and familiarity within the NYU community, so I am extremely excited [for] the inf-luence and impact the SLAM event garner[s],” she said.

Caitlin MacLaren, Gallatin junior and SLAM organizer, hopes the protest will lead to NYU abandoning the company.

“I hope this inspires people to get involved in the fight for better working conditions everywhere,” she said. “The first step is getting NYU to cut its contract with Adidas.”

Pierre, a member of the Haitian garment union “Sendika Ouvriye Takstil ak Abiman,” which in English is the Textile and Apparel Worker’s Union, said workers could earn as little as 14 cents for producing six dozen shirts.

Etienne expressed the urgency of altering labor conditions. However, difficulty communicating between workers due to language barriers and distance makes solidarity harder to achieve.

“This is a weak point in the struggle because we want to fight. We want to win. We have to communicate. We have to be together, but different languages sometimes separates us,” she said.

A member of a labor union in Honduras and a former textile factory worker, Navarro emphasized the short career span of laborers.

“Many of us started working in the textile factory when we were only 14 years old with a lot of dreams and hopes for a better life. However, whenever we turn 30, many of us are considered old already and it’s hard to get jobs,” she said.

Prachi Vidwans, CAS senior and College Democrats president, att-ended the event to learn more about the situation abroad.

“Sometimes we can feel so disconnected because we don’t see these [working] conditions right in front of us,” she said. “But it’s imp-ortant that we understand that we fall and rise together.”

Mathias Rabinovitch, a CAS senior who also attended the event, hopes that the United States will come to play a larger role in the movement.

“We need to push for the U.S. to become even more friendly with lab-or unions and stop viewing them as groups that bring down the economy,” he said.


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Felipe De La Hoz

Multimedia Editor | Felipe De La Hoz is a Colombian national studying journalism at the College of Arts and Sciences. Having been born in Colombia and raised in the United States, Mexico and Brazil, Felipe is a trilingual travel aficionado and enjoys working in varied and difficult environments. Apart from his photography, Felipe enjoys investigative reporting and interviews, interviewing the likes of Colombian ex-M-19 guerrilla fighters and controversial politician Jimmy McMillan. He has covered everything from governmental conferences to full-blown riots, as well as portraiture shoots and dining photography. Having worked under Brazilian photojournalists for Reuters and AFP, Felipe hopes to one day work on demanding journalistic projects and contribute to the global news cycle.

Ann Schmidt

News Editor | Ann is a liberal studies sophomore who lived in Florence during her freshman year. She plans on double-majoring in journalism and political science and is always busy. She is constantly making lists and she loves to laugh.


Daniel Yeom

Daniel started at the Features desk of WSN last Spring, writing restaurant reviews whilst indulging on free food and consequently getting fat. Last Fall, he was the dining editor, and he this semester he is senior editor. Daniel is in Gallatin (living the dream) studying Food & Travel Narratives, incorporating aspects of Food Studies, Journalism, and Media, Culture, and Communication. He loves food more than life itself.

Hannah Luu

Deputy Multimedia Editor | Hannah Luu is a ridiculously great Deputy Multimedia Editor. She is a sophomore from Northern California. If you think Northern California means San Francisco you might need to closely examine a map. She is passionate about NPR and being half Asian.

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