The National Labor Comittee
Earlier this year, students at Northwestern University held a six day camp-out on the library plaza to get their school to join the labor union backed Worker's Rights Consortium (WRC), a group formed to monitor clothing manufacturers' labor practices. The university's administration acceded to their demand on April 30. "We Won!!!" shouted the newsletter of Northwestern Students Against Sweatshops.
In May, University of Iowa president Mary Sue Coleman ended a two-year protest by Students Against Sweatshops. She instructed the school's trademark licensing director to give the six companies that manufacture Iowa Hawkeye logo apparel 30 days to sign the university's code of conduct or lose their contract.
As these and similar stories at other colleges suggest, the "anti-sweatshop" movement is the hottest cause on campus. It's part of the anti-globalization crusade that so many young people have joined recently. [See this month's Organization Trends, "Anti-Global Trade Protestors Become Global Force."] "It has become really cool to be associated with labor," says Naomi Klein, author of No Logo: Taking Aim at the Brand Bullies. Observes Cato Institute trade analyst Aaron Lukas, "If you aren't protesting, you aren't cool."
Many student activists are attracted to the movement thanks to the media firestorm created by one man, Charles Kernaghan, "the man who made Kathie Lee Gifford cry."