NYU SLAM sees victory through ‘badidas’ campaign

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The NYU Student Labor Action Movement recently made headway in its efforts against sportswear corporation Adidas, a major manufacturer of NYU athletic wear.

SLAM, a student-run organization that campaigns against labor injustice, tries to choose protests strategically and find the best way for students to participate, encouraging them to support fights for human rights and social justice.

“That includes the right to organize a union, the right to work with dignity and the right to meet your basic human needs,“ said Gallatin junior and member of SLAM Caitlin MacLaren.

SLAM recently helped the Indonesian PT Kizone workers gain compensation by forcing Adidas to pay severance fees legally owed to its workers. Working with United Students Against Sweatshops, other chapters and workers, SLAM and the Badidas campaign helped pressure Adidas into compensating 2,700 former Indonesian garment workers who created collegiate apparel at PT Kizone. The campaign provoked the largest collegiate boycott of a top-three sportswear company in history, with 17 universities and colleges ending their contracts with Adidas.

Last week, the union representing the workers in the Indonesian factory reached a settlement with Adidas.

Meanwhile, Adidas is still licensed to make apparel for NYU. Because of the settlement, NYU is not planning to cut ties with Adidas, NYU spokesman Philip Lentz said.

“The university agrees with the students that Adidas’ relationship with workers that manufacture its products raised serious concerns,” Lentz said. “And that is why we were pleased that the company reached a settlement with the union representing the workers.”

However, NYU’s licensing agreement expires at the end of the year, which will give NYU a chance to assess whether Adidas is still living up to the terms of the settlement.

MacLaren said the group was satisfied with their success.

“No one person, group or action wins a victory like this, but every one of us who put pressure on Adidas can be proud of this victory,” MacLaren said.

One of SLAM’s ongoing campaigns involves advocating for nursing home workers employed by NYU School of Law trustee Daniel Straus’ company. SLAM supports the workers who argue that the company requires them to pay more than they should for healthcare, sacrifice their lunch breaks and take away their sick and vacation days. It recently held a protest at a law school basketball game.

“We wanted to show that students are outraged by a law school trustee who violates labor law and abuses workers,” MacLaren said.

In response to SLAM’s actions, the law school issued a statement that it has not been a part of the ongoing controversy.

“We are confident that all sides will respect any decision the courts ultimately make in this matter,” the statement read.

MacLaren said the next SLAM protest will most likely be during the law school’s alumni reunion this weekend, and she hopes to gain alumni support.

“I believe there are a lot of alumni who will be equally outraged by the way that Daniel Straus is tarnishing the reputation of the law school,” she said.

A version on this article appeared in the Wednesday, May 1 print edition. Jacqueline Hsia is a staff writer. Email her at investigative@nyunews.com.

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