Students Stage Sweatshop Protests at Colleges Nationwide

Students protest rally for withdrawal from FLA

Over the last two weeks, students on three campuses have staged sit-ins for a total of 16 days.

Students at the University of Pennsylvania occupied the president's office for nine days, eating granola bars and peanut butter and communicating with the outside world via e-mail and cell phone.

A week ago, more than 50 police officers dressed in full riot gear forcibly ended a four-day sit-in at the University of Wisconsin, using saws to break apart a group of students who chained themselves together with bicycle U-locks around their necks, after earlier dispersing protesters with pepper spray.


Here at Harvard, members of the Progressive Student Labor Movement (PSLM) have been staging rallies and demonstrations for almost a year. Their last attempt to distribute leaflets in Mass Hall resulted in prompt eviction.

What has inspired these activists to disregard response papers and problem sets and put their physical safety at risk?

All of the protesters were demanding that their schools withdraw from the Fair Labor Association (FLA) and join the Workers Rights Consortium (WRC).

On the surface, the distinction between the two organizations seems slight. Both are designed to combat overseas sweatshops, both advocate a system of monitoring and working with local non-governmental organizations (NGOs).

But protesters charge the FLA is too closely tied to corporate interests to protect workers. Administrators counter the WRC is too loosely organized to be effective.

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