Rally for Designated Suppliers

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A rally was held to make the UIUC community aware that the system
by which the University of Illinois gets its apparel is horribly
flawed and rife with human rights violations. Companies like
Nike, which make Illinois apparel, demand that factories lower
their prices more and more each year, until there is little or no
money left over for workers’ wages, benefits, or even basic safety
precautions. Workers who try to unionize are fired immediately,
because as soon as a union gets recognized, the brands pull their
orders, and move to a cheaper factory.
The Designated Suppliers Program would be a huge step
toward fixing this problem. Brands would be required to source a
certain percentage of their university apparel from factories where
workers earn a living wage and have a real right to form a union,
creating a safe space for workers to organize. Brands would also
be required to pay high enough prices for their goods, so that
workers would be able to bargain for living wages, making it possible
for factory owners to meet the demands of a unionized
workforce without the fear of losing orders.
The Designated Suppliers Program is the only program out there
that addresses the root causes for the existence of sweatshops. Yet, the
University has been dragging its feet for over two years. Why aren’t
we signed on? Because Chancellor Herman doesn’t feel it is an urgent
enough issue.
Chancellor Herman must realize that this is an extremely urgent
issue. Our slowness in signing on to the Designated Suppliers Program
has resulted in thousands of people losing their jobs, and thousands of
other people being forced to accept lower and lower wages year after
year, until they can barely afford to feed themselves, let alone their
families. The rally was an effort to show the Chancellor that students
will not accept his inaction in the face of human rights violations.
More importantly,

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