Student Activists Attack Unfair Labor Practices

* Newbury Street Guess? Store Is Target Of Protesters

BOSTON--There were only 20 students, but the bullhorn seemed to double their numbers. "Guess? What? Guess? Sucks!" they shouted, so loudly that only a few customers dared enter the Newbury Street clothing store.

Harvard undergraduates met up with students from the University of Massachusetts, MIT and area high schools at the Boston outpost of Guess? for Saturday's noisy protest of the labor used in manufacturing Guess? products. The Harvard students were members of the Phillips Brooks House Association's Progressive Student Labor Movement (PSLM). know for organizing recent protests at Harvard Business School.

"Boycott Guess?!" yelled Benjamin O. Shuldiner '99, who wielded a sign. "You look at how clean cut Guess? is, but their clothes are made in sweatshops."

"The Guess? Corporation is one of the worst abusers of sweatshop labor in the United States," said Justin B. Wood '98, a representative of Students Stop Sweatshops, which counts members on several Massachusetts campuses.

Guess? Inc., headquartered in Los Angeles, has been accused by the federal government and labor activists of using American sweatshops to produce their clothing. In some cases, the shops had individu- al employees take sewing work home; such subcontracting often leads to the use of child labor and violation of minimum wage law, experts say.

"[Guess? is] taking advantage of the poor trying to keep them down," said Charles N. Remington, a longtime labor organizer who attended Saturday's protest.


The nationwide protests, scheduled to continue every Saturday until Christmas, are being organized by the Union of Needletrade, Industrial and Textile Employees, and Jobs with Justice, a public interest group.

Guess? employees declined to comment.

One man, who would not give his name, videotaped the demonstration. Protesters claimed the man was a Guess? employee, but he declined to identify himself.

Douglas J. Smith, one of only a handful of shoppers to cross the line, said he felt the protesters were unfairly targeting Guess? Several clothing makers have been guilty of similar violations, he said.

"We've got a lot of low-paying jobs in the U.S. and in the world, and we put up with it," Smith said.

As Smith entered the store, protesters continued to bark into a bullhorn. Several flagged down passing motorists to hand out flyers.

Spotting the demonstration, the driver of a tourists' trolley rang his bell in support.

Daniel R. Morgan '99, a member of PSLM, said he chose to spend his Saturday morning at the protest because the issues raised are important to him.

"I believe in the issues, and if I believe in something strongly, I should do something about it," he said