More Sweatshirts From Sweatshops
From World Journal
March 25, 2002
The New York State Assembly is proposing a bill to prohibit the
State University of New York and the City University of New York
from giving contracts to garment companies associated with sweatshops
when they purchase garments with college logos.
The new bill is hoped to bring more businesses back to the unionized
garment factories in Chinatown, which suffered a major economic
downturn after September 11.
In many college bookstores, it is common to find garments with
imprints of college logos or names made by famous garment manufacturers
such as Nike or Reebok. A T-shirt is often priced at $31 while a
sweatshirt with a hood is sold at $48.
However, some of those garments are made in Puebla, Mexico, where
workers get paid 65 cents an hour. Sweatshop workers are constantly
mistreated by their supervisors, and some even get fired when they
complain about their meals.
Workers Rights Consortium, a non-profit organization, is working
to gather 84 colleges to boycott sweatshops. With their efforts,
the New York State Assembly is preparing to legislate to prohibit
64 SUNY schools and 20 CUNY schools from purchasing from those manufacturers.
According to the proposed law, any school under SUNY and CUNY can
disqualify companies that operate sweatshops overseas when they
place their bid for contracts even if they offer low prices.
Meanwhile, many members of the State Assembly have voiced their
support for the bill.
State Assemblyman John McEneny said the new bill will allow schools
to say no to companies that operate sweatshops because they are
not qualified. He added that boycotts by students would bring economic
pressure to those companies.
Ithaca College, a SUNY school, has refused to do business with
companies associated with sweatshops since 1998. Peggy Williams,
president of Ithaca, said the college has been promoting the concept
of social screening to prevent any association with products that
involve violation of human rights.
Translated from Chinese by Larry Tung.
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