The UW chapter of the Student Labor Action Project in affiliation with Sweat-Free Communities is gearing up to take their sweatshop-free apparel fight to the city of Seattle.
The new campaign, "No Sweat Seattle," has not yet been publicly launched, but organizers expect to begin discussions with the city sometime this summer.
Ashley Edens, a UW senior and member of SLAP, is helping to spearhead the new campaign. She said they are in the very initial phase of organizing a national campaign, of which Seattle will be a part.
According to Sweat-Free Communities, a national-level organizing effort with activists already working in Seattle and Olympia, city and state agencies are often the largest consumers of apparel and other goods, from uniforms to office furniture. Often, many of the products they buy are made in factories that don't adhere to fair labor practices.
Edens said she believes that citizens should be able to know where their apparel is made, and to have some say in it.
The Workers Rights Consortium (WRC) is an independent monitoring system that investigates the conditions and practices of apparel factories that produce college logo apparel. The WRC is currently trying to expand its work to city governments and school districts.
The WRC was instrumental in SLAP's successful campaign to encourage UW to join the Designated Suppliers Program, which ensured that all Husky and UW logo-gear is sweatshop free. The Designated Suppliers Program is part of the WRC, and promises to work with suppliers that engage in fair labor practices.
Edens says that in apparel manufacturing, where the market norm is sweatshops, an entity like the Designated Suppliers Program helps provide incentives for factories to do good business.
When asked why she is so passionate about the sweatshop-free movement, Edens answers, "because I care, and I think it's time that we stop benefiting off of other people's oppression."