Thursday, November 19, 2009

Hold the Applause

Finally, an anti-sweatshop movement sees results! Yesterday, headlined a story on an anti-sweatshop coalition which organized a nationwide campaign against Russell Athletic, a national sportswear company. This happened after Russell Athletic closed a factory in Honduras when its workers unionized. The company’s actions left nearly 1,200 workers unemployed.

The coalition and its web of connected groups and students were able to persuade many college administrations to suspend their licensing agreements with the company, impacting Russell’s overall sales. The impact most likely resulted in Russell altering its previously hostile attitude towards unionizing groups and adopting its current, more accepting one. However, as the article points out this victory was a long time in the making… it took nearly 10 years to get an agreement like this to occur.

In the agreement Russell agreed to rehire the dismissed workers for a new unionized plant and they also agreed to not fight unionization at the seven other factors it has in Honduras.

Campus officials and other businesses have publicly applauded the Russell company for its actions. I agree that such praise could have been deserved but its NOT. Russell Athletics was simply afraid of losing its bottom line. The company only showed concerned for the laid off workers in Honduras once it’s sales were impact. Unfortunately for some big companies their bottom line is worth more than its workers. It was alleged that in 2007 Russell fired 145 workers who supported a union; it is known that in 2009 they shut down an entire factory because it unionized.

Yes this is a huge victory, yes it is an awesome thing. But I do not agree that Russell should be receiving countless praises yet—give their promises some time. Make sure they are actually upheld... can someone say temporary contracts? Yay go anti-sweatshop coalition. Keep on the pressure!

Photo Credit:Scott Beale/Laughing Squid on

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