Tuesday, December 17, 2013

End of year report from #adjunct BFF @USAS

by Martin Macias, USAS. In case you thought United Students against Sweatshops was just tees and sweats, take note of and learn more about these important allies, whose mission includes organizing for student and worker power. Students in Boston, LA and DC are standing with adjuncts in their fight for a union voice. Now on with Martin Macias' years end report on old and new campaigns:

Support worker rights by making a $50 donation to USAS today, and we'll send you a union-made USAS t-shirt!

Our tiny and scrappy staff ensures that your contribution goes directly towards giving more student organizers the skills and tools they need to take on the biggest corporations in the business of exploiting workers.

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It feels like only yesterday students were gathering at the USAS Summer Retreat to make plans for the coming academic year. Now, at the end of fall semester, we've put those plans into action and accomplished so much! We've made tons of progress on old campaigns, and launched exciting new efforts to rein in abusive corporations like T-Mobile.

We've also got some exciting new projects in the works, which we'd love to tell you all about soon. But we really need your support to keep doing our important work, while laying plans for future, even more ambitious campaigns.

Let's also take a moment to reflect on our successes this year — check out the report below for the highlights!

In solidarity,Martin Macias

USAS Local 15 at the University of Illinois at Chicago

USAS Year-End Report: 'Tis the Season of Solidarity

Campaign for a Contract to End Deathtraps

On the eve of the six month anniversary of the Rana Plaza collapse, which claimed the lives of 1,134 Bangladeshi garment workers, we launched a new movement on college campuses across the country to demand an end to deathtrap factories. In the last eight years alone, over 1,800 Bangladeshi garment workers have died in building collapses and factory fires while earning just $37 per month on the job.

On our campuses we are calling on our universities to require brands producing college-logo apparel to sign the Accord on Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh, a legally-binding contract — a Contract to End Deathtraps — between unions and brands that will transform the Bangladesh garment industry from deathtraps to safe workplaces — if enough brands sign it.

Already, we've won impressive victories, with Temple, Duke, UPenn and NYU announcing that they will require their licensees to sign the Accord, and we won't stop until every university in the country does the same! In response to this pressure, Adidas, Knights Apparel, Top of the World, and Fruit of the Loom just recently signed the Accord!

Campus Worker Justice

On dozens of campuses across the country, USAS locals are campaigning alongside campus workers and their unions to halt corporate outsourcing, raise wages, and negotiate fair contracts. Students in Boston, LA and DC are standing with adjuncts in their fight for a union voice.
  • In California, USASers walked the picket lines with AFSCME 3299 and UAW 2865 in the largest strike ever in the University of California system.

Kick Wall Street Off Campus

In Minnesota, students at Macalester College are still fighting to cut their school's contract with Wells Fargo over the bank's refusal to negotiate principal reduction with homeowners in the Twin Cities, where Wells Fargo is responsible for the largest share of foreclosures.

After students occupied the administration building and blockaded its doors, the College's president cracked down on student activism instead of doing the right thing.

In responses, students are planning an expansion of the campaign to other schools in Minnesota. 

Justice at T-Mobile

This year USAS launched a campaign to support T-Mobile call center workers in their fight for a union.

Across the US, T-Mobile operates call centers that have been described by workers as "electronic sweatshops." Workers face excessive bullying, harassment, and stress on the job — and T-Mobile will resort to extraordinary measures to prevent workers from having any method to change those working conditions.

That's why we've launched campaigns calling for an end to our universities' ties with T-Mobile unless the company does the right thing and agrees to allow its workers to form a union free of management intimidation and puts an end to the kind of humiliating practices in its call centers that have been described as "brutal psychological terror."

Solidarity with Walmart Strikers

USASers in over 25 cities walked the picket lines with Walmart workers or held their own actions in solidarity with strikers, demanding that Walmart, the largest private employer in the world, pay its workers a living wage and stop retaliating against workers who speak out.

In Virginia, USASers from American University joined a massive civil disobedience outside a Walmart, blocking traffic to the store until they were arrested!

Fighting for 15 and a Union with Fast Food Strikers

USAS members in 30 cities walked the picket lines with fast food workers or held their own actions in solidarity with strikers demanding $15/hour and a union.

On December 5th fast food workers went on strike in 100 cities, and students will be side-by-side with fast food workers as the movement grows and escalates!

Bringing Student Organizers Together

This fall, we held five student Organizing Boot Camps, attended by a total of 303 promising student organizers representing 75 different schools! Building on that incredible round of local trainings, our annual national conference will be held February 7 and 8 at the University of Texas at Austin, where USASers are standing with the Texas Employees State Union to fight privatization and outsourcing. Students, register now for the USAS National Conference and join us in Austin! 

Give the Gift of USAS… In T-Shirt Form

Make a donation of $50 or more by December 20 and we'll send you a USAS t-shirt! These t-shirts are union-made at the Alta Gracia factory in the Dominican Republic and screen printed by union workers in the US, making them the perfect gift for that special supporter of workers' rights in your life. Make an end-of-year donation to USAS now.

It's hard to fit it all in a newsletter, so if you want to learn more about what we've been up to, check out our Facebook page or our website for longer updates!

We also want to give a special shoutout to the new USAS locals that joined us this semester, including Wichita State, Duke University, University of La Verne, Whittier College, Michigan State, University at Buffalo, Virginia Tech, Lock Haven University, Gonzaga and probably some others we've missed!

United Students Against Sweatshops | USAS.org
Organizing for Student and Worker Power

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