7. Press Releases

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: WEDNESDAY AUGUST 13

CONTACT: Salma Mirza: salma@unc.edu, 716-432-1576


UNC Students on Criminal Trial for Anti-Sweatshop Sit-in

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Chapel Hill, NC– Five students from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill will face criminal charges for calling upon the University to respect the rights of sweatshop workers who manufacture UNC-CH licensed apparel. Linda Gomaa, Thomas Mattera, Sarah Hirsch, Tim Stallmann, and Salma Mirza were arrested and charged with failure to disperse on May 2, 2008 after they linked arms and sat down in then-Chancellor James Moeser’s office. Mirza was additionally charged with resisting a public officer because she refused to stand up upon arrest and was dragged into a chair and out of the administration building.

The students stated they would not allow business as usual to be conducted at the University when workers were being abused for the sake of their education. The students were on day sixteen of a sit-in that followed a three-year campaign requesting the University adopt a policy to respect the rights of sweatshop workers who make UNC-CH licensed apparel. The students are being represented by Alan McSurely of the NC NAACP, who also represented the students arrested in the 1990s for a free-standing Black Cultural Center at UNC-CH.

“We will not tolerate injustice against workers anywhere,” said Tim Stallmann, a UNC graduate student. “Police, handcuffs and a wall of silence are no way to respond to student voices for change.” 45 universities across the country have adopted the policy, called the Designated Suppliers Program (DSP), ensuring that workers who make university apparel can organize for their basic rights without fear of losing their jobs or lives and the right to negotiate wages that would cover their basic needs. The sit-in at UNC-CH that began in April was the fourth across the nation for the DSP which culminated in a total of over fifty student arrests at Appalachian State University, Pennsylvania State University, the University of Montana, and UNC-CH.

WHO: Arrested students and their supporters, members of UNC Student Action with Workers
WHAT: Criminal trial of students arrested in University sit-in
WHERE: Chapel Hill Courthouse (Post Office) on Franklin Street
WHEN: Monday, August 18th, trial proceedings will occur in the morning

United Students Against Sweatshops, founded in 1998, is an international movement with students at more than 250 campuses organizing for workers’ rights. We have fought and won struggles to demand our universities adopt ethically and legally strong codes of conduct, full public disclosure of company information, and truly independent verification systems to ensure that workers who manufacture our apparel are treated with respect and dignity. We have also fought and won struggles in our own campuses and communities for living wage policies and the right to organize in an environment free from intimidation.

For more background, please see: https://dsp4unc.wordpress.com

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April 30, 2008

UNC SIT-IN ENTERS THIRD WEEK: TENT CITY & MAY DAY FESTIVAL

Students to hold press conference in South Building on Friday at 11 am

Chapel Hill, NC- As the longest sit-in in UNC Chapel Hill history enters its third week, UNC students, community supporters, and members of Duke Students Against Sweatshops will construct a tent city and hold a May Day festival Thursday evening on the steps of South Building to show support for the students currently occupying the administration building. The events are part of the lead up to a special meeting of the University’s Licensing Labor Code Advisory Committee called on the seventh day of the sit-in by Chancellor Moeser for 9:00 am this Friday. Students sitting-in have planned a press conference for Friday at 11:00 am in South Building to announce their response to the meeting and their plans for the future of the campaign to make Carolina sweatshop-free. “Even though we have finals this week, we feel it’s important to hold UNC to its ideals and mission as the ‘University of the people,’” said Salma Mirza, a senior history major and member of Student Action with Workers, ““We will not stop until there is justice for all workers in the Carolina community.”

For the past three years, Chancellor Moeser has repeatedly ignored requests to consider adopting an enforcement mechanism for UNC labor codes, the Designated Suppliers Program (DSP), despite overwhelming evidence that Carolina apparel is made under sweatshop conditions that violate UNC labor codes of conduct. The DSP has already been adopted by 42 major universities, including Duke. Students began their occupation of South Building on April 17, when it became clear that mass student protest was the only way to make their voices heard. The University’s existing labor codes of conduct were originally adopted in 1999 after students staged a sit-in lasting 72 hours in South Building.

The sit-in at UNC Chapel Hill is the fourth in a series of sit-ins for the DSP that saw 46 students in total arrested at Penn State University, the University of Montana, and UNC-system member Appalachian State University earlier this month. In conjunction with the tent city, students on university campuses throughout the country have planned symbolic sit-ins as an act of solidarity with students at UNC.

Events include a May Day (international workers’ day) picnic, art exhibits on globalization and workers rights issues by the Beehive Collective, screening of short documentaries by UNC students on the conditions in the collegiate garment industry in Kenya, followed by a pancake breakfast.

WHO: UNC Students, Community Supporters, Duke SAS Members
WHAT: Tent City to Mark the Third Week of the Sit-In
WHERE: UNC Chapel Hill, South Building
WHEN: Thursday, May 1 at 7:00 pm

Press conference on future of the sweatshop-free campaign on Friday at 11:00 am in lobby of South Building
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April 24, 2008

SIT-IN AT UNC CHAPEL HILL ENTERS ITS SECOND WEEK
Students, supporters to hold a major rally on Thursday demanding that Chancellor Moeser adopt sweatshop-free policy

Thursday April 24, 12:00 pm- Marking the one-week anniversary of what has become the longest sit-in at UNC Chapel Hill since 1993, students are mobilizing for a rally demanding that Chancellor Moeser adopt a sweatshop-free policy for all UNC apparel. Long-time activist, civil rights leader, and professor emeritus Chuck Stone will serve as the keynote speaker. He will be joined by professors, representatives from several major labor unions, members of the UNC Women’s Center, and representatives from the more than twenty organizations that have expressed their support for the Designated Suppliers Program (DSP). At the same time, students on university campuses throughout the United States and Canada will be holding protests in solidarity with the students still sitting in inside of South Building.

Throughout the past six days, Chancellor Moeser has refused to discuss UNC’s dependence on sweatshop labor with student protestors. Students responded Tuesday night by proposing a meeting between Chancellor Moeser, members of the licensing advisory committee, and other experts in the field. By Wednesday afternoon, Chancellor Moeser had reversed his year-long refusal even to consider the program, and had called for an emergency meeting of the licensing committee to be held next Friday, May 2, 2008. Students maintain their refusal to leave the building until the Chancellor agrees to fully adopt the DSP, citing that for the past three years Moeser has failed to attend any licensing committee meetings, and has refused to meet with them in good faith at any point. “We have been trying to meet with Chancellor Moeser for three years, and for three years we have been ignored,” said Dida El-Sourady, a sophomore majoring in International Studies and Spanish, “We will continue to hold our university accountable to its ideals and we are committed to staying here until UNC is truly sweatshop-free.”

To date, 42 major universities, including Duke, have signed on to the DSP, which would require that university licensed apparel be produced in factories where workers earn enough to support a family and have the right to form a union. Two weeks ago, students at Appalachian State University were arrested and charged with trespassing and disorderly conduct while holding a similar sit-in to demand that ASU participate in the program.

WHO: UNC Students, Faculty, Staff, Community Supporters
WHAT: Rally to Kick-Off the Second Week of the Sit-In
WHERE: UNC Chapel Hill, South Building
WHEN: Thursday, April 24 at 12 noon


April 21, 2008

SIT-IN AT UNC CHAPEL HILL ENTERS FIFTH DAY
Students Vow to Continue Sit-In Until Chancellor Moeser Adopts Sweatshop-Free Policy

** Supporters to rally at 4:30 in the lobby of South Building **

Students at UNC Chapel Hill are sitting in for the fifth day in the Chancellor’s office building. They have vowed to continue their occupation until Chancellor Moeser adopts a sweatshop-free policy called the Designated Suppliers Program (DSP). Additional student protestors will rally on the steps of South Building at 4:30 pm, with at least 50 students expected to move the protest inside the lobby before the doors are locked at 5:00 pm.

When Chancellor Moeser left the building on Friday, amid students chanting “Sweatfree UNC, Adopt the DSP,” he was overheard telling one of his assistants that student protestors would get tired and eventually call off the protest. The students, however, have vowed to occupy the building until Chancellor Moeser meets their demands and adopts the DSP. The DSP, which has already been endorsed by 42 major universities across the country, would ensure that UNC apparel is produced in factories where workers earn enough to support a family and have the freedom to form a union. “We are committed to staying here until Chancellor Moeser adopts the DSP, even if we are threatened with arrest,” said Salma Mirza, a senior majoring in history at UNC Chapel Hill.

The sit-in at UNC is the fourth in a string of building occupations that began almost two weeks ago at Appalachian State University, where more than 30 students spent three days in their administration building before a number of them were arrested. Last week, 31 students at Penn State University and 9 students at the University of Montana were arrested in similar protests, all of them demanding that their universities adopt the DSP. Throughout the week, students around the country will be participating in solidarity actions to show their support for the UNC students.

WHO: UNC Students
WHAT: Rally and Five-Day Sit-in Over Sweatshop Policy
WHERE: UNC Chapel Hill, South Building
WHEN: Today, April 21, 4:30 PM
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April 20, 2008

SIT-IN ENTERS FOURTH DAY, SUPPORTERS CONSTRUCT TENT CITY OUTSIDE OF SOUTH BUILDING
Students Continue to Risk Arrest, Vow to Stay Put Until Chancellor Moeser Agrees To Make UNC Apparel Sweatshop-Free

Pancake Breakfast on the Steps of South Building on Monday at 8 am

As UNC-CH students enter the fourth day of their sit-in to demand a sweatshop-free UNC, supporters plan to extend the protest to the steps of South Building. At 9 pm tonight, at least 20 UNC students, workers, community allies, and members of Duke Students Against Sweatshops will spend the night outside of South Building to demand that Chancellor Moeser adopt the Designated Suppliers Program (DSP). Tent city residents will then prepare an 8 am pancake breakfast for the protesting students, who have spent the entire weekend locked inside of South Building. The students have not been allowed any food deliveries, which has been enforced by a 24-hour UNC police watch. “We are outraged that UNC has still not adopted the DSP, like Duke and forty-one other peer universities across North America,” said Ben Crawford, a graduate student and member of Duke Students Against Sweatshops.

Students have been occupying South Building since Thursday at 12:30 pm, when more than 20 members of Student Action with Workers and the Carolina Sweatfree Coalition entered Chancellor Moeser’s office to demand that he adopt a sweatshop-free policy that would ensure that UNC apparel is produced in factories where the human rights of workers are respected. These students have been locked inside the building since 5:00 pm on Friday evening, when 45 protestors filled the lobby with chants of “UNC Sweatfree, Adopt the DSP!” as Chancellor James Moeser left for the weekend. “We are committed to staying here until Chancellor Moeser adopts the DSP, even if we are threatened with arrest,” said Salma Mirza, a senior history major at UNC Chapel Hill.

The students have received community support from a number of sources, including N.C. State Senator Ellie Kinniard, and resolutions in support of their sit-in and the DSP were unanimously passed by both the Chatham County and Orange County Democratic Conventions.

WHO: UNC Students and Supporters
WHAT: Tent city, Pancake Breakfast and Ongoing Student Sit-in Over Sweatshop-free Policy
WHERE: UNC Chapel Hill, South Building
WHEN: Today, April 20, 9:00 PM
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April 18, 2008

UNC STUDENTS ENTER DAY TWO OF THEIR SIT-IN
Students vow to risk arrest, stay put until Chancellor Moeser agrees to a sweatshop free policy for UNC logoed apparel, supporters to rally at 4:30 outside of South Building

Friday April 18- 9 students woke up this morning in the lobby outside of Chancellor Moeser’s office after spending a night under police watch in protest of the University of North Carolina’s continued reliance on sweatshop labor. Students have vowed to remain in the building until the Chancellor adopts the Designated Suppliers Program (DSP) which would ensure that UNC logoed apparel is produced in designated factories where the rights of workers are respected. At least 75 supporters of those participating in the sit-in plan to rally in front of South Building at 4:30 pm, in the expectation that the protesting students will be arrested when the building closes at 5:00 pm. “We are committed to staying here until Chancellor Moeser adopts the DSP, even if we are threatened with arrest,” said Salma Mirza, a senior history major at UNC Chapel Hill.

The sit-in at UNC is the fourth in a string of building occupations that began last week at Appalachian State University, where more than 30 students spent three days in their administration building before a number of them were arrested on Friday evening. Earlier this week, 31 students at Penn State University and 9 students at the University of Montana were arrested in similar protests, all of them demanding that their universities join the 42 major colleges throughout the country who have already committed to the DSP. However, despite the mounting pressure on his administration, Chancellor Moeser still refuses to negotiate with student protestors. “As a Carolina Covenant Scholar, I feel that compromising the living and working conditions of others in order to fund my college education is unacceptable, especially from an institution that touts itself as ‘the university of the people,” said Eva Panjwani, a sophomore majoring in international studies.

WHO: CAROLINA SWEATFREE COALITION

WHAT: RALLY TO SUPPORT STUDENT SIT-IN

WHERE: SOUTH BUILDING AT UNC CHAPEL HILL

WHEN: FRIDAY APRIL 18 AT 4:30 PM
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April 17, 2008

STUDENTS OCCUPY CHANCELLOR MOESER’S OFFICE, RISK ARREST

15 students follow the lead of students at Penn State, Montana, and Appalachian State by holding a sit-in to demand a sweatfree UNC, support rally planned at 4:30 pm at South Building
Thursday, April 17- Riding a wave of student sit-ins that has been sweeping the nation, students at the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill have just occupied Chancellor Moeser’s office. 15 students have stated that they refuse to leave the building until Chancellor Moeser agrees to a sweatfree policy called the Designated Suppliers Program (DSP). This is the fourth sit-in in support of this policy in the last week, with students already having been arrested at Pennsylvania State University, University of Montana, and another UNC system school, Appalachian State University. Students, workers, and community members will be mobilizing to march on the South Building at 4:30 in anticipation of the building’s closure, and possible student arrests, at 5:00 pm.

For the past three years, students at the Chapel Hill campus have demanded that Chancellor Moeser adopt the DSP, a policy that has been proposed at more than 150 schools by different chapters of United Students Against Sweatshops. The DSP would ensure that university logoed apparel is produced in factories where workers earn enough to support a family and have the right to form a union. Despite the overwhelming support of students, community members, and the more than 20 organizations that make up the Carolina Sweatfree Coalition, Chancellor Moeser has still refused to follow the lead of the 42 other universities, including Duke, who have already signed on to the DSP. “As UNC students we would like to wear our Carolina gear with pride,” said Salma Mirza, a senior history major at UNC Chapel Hill. “Instead, due to Chancellor Moeser’s inaction, our clothes continue to be made in factories where workers don’t earn enough to support themselves, let alone their families.”

As student protest has spread throughout the UNC system, an international campaign has begun to demand that the entire UNC system commit themselves to the principles of the DSP. Last week, UNC President Erskine Bowles received phone calls, emails, and faxes from thousands of advocates around the world demanding that the UNC system follow the lead of the University of California by having all of its member schools adopt the DSP. “As a Carolina Covenant Scholar, I feel that compromising the living and working conditions of others in order to fund my college education is unacceptable, especially from an institution that touts itself as ‘the university of the people,” said Eva Panjwani, a sophomore majoring in international studies.
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March 18, 2008

SWEATSHOP WORKERS TO SPEAK OUT ABOUT ABUSE AT HANES FACTORY

Workers from the Dominican Republic to speak in the pit with Members of the UNC Sweatfree Coalition to urge Chancellor Moeser to end sweatshop exploitation

Chapel Hill, NC- On Wednesday March 19 at 3:30 pm, workers from the TOS Dominicana factory in the Dominican Republic, which is owned by the locally based Hanes Brands, a supplier of blank t-shirts to numerous university licensees, will speak out about the poverty wages, forced overtime, verbal harassment, and physical threats that they have received at the hands of Hanes management. This event is part of a nation-wide tour sponsored by United Students Against Sweatshops, which has also included events at Brown University, Rutgers University, University of Maryland, and Virginia Tech University.
Students from the UNC sweatfree coalition (which includes the Graduate and Professional Student Federation branch of student government and thirteen undergraduate student groups including CHispA, YD, and Alianza) will also be speaking about how supporting the rights of workers in the supply chain of the university is part of their struggle to live the Carolina way.
Manuel Pujols and Julio Angel Castillo Fermín, two illegally fired workers from the Dominican Republic factory, are the leaders of a movement to form a union in response to low wages, unsafe working conditions, and forced overtime that has become routine in their factory. In response, management fired many union members and threatened others. Since then, despite the fact that the government of the Dominican Republic has found in favor of the workers, Hanes refuses to recognize the union and bargain with the workers to improve working conditions. Workers have been speaking out at high schools and universities around the country to demand that Hanes respect the rights of its workers.
Three years ago, students throughout the U.S. and Canada demanded that their universities take a stand against sweatshop exploitation by adopting the Designated Suppliers Program. Since that time, UNC-CH has refused to join the 40 major colleges and universities that have adopted this policy, which would ensure that workers producing university apparel can form independent worker bodies and negotiate living wages. Major universities that have adopted the Designated Suppliers Program include Duke University, Georgetown University, the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and the entire University of California system.

“Across the globe, workers in apparel factories face systematic violations of their rights. Wages are insufficient to provide for a worker’s basic needs. Respect for the right to organize does not exist, and workers who attempt to improve their conditions are harassed, abused, illegally fired, and even killed. The Designated Suppliers Program will ensure that UNC-CH apparel is made where workers have freedom of association and can bargain for a living wage. There can be no Tar Heel pride in sweatshop apparel. As students who are trying to live the Carolina way, we want our university to be a leader in setting ethical standards by adopting the Designated Suppliers Program,” says senior Salma Mirza, organizer for Student Action with Workers, an affiliate of United Students against Sweatshops.

WHO: SWEATSHOP WORKERS FROM DOMINICAN REPUBLIC

WHAT: WORKERS SPEAK OUT ABOUT ABUSE AT HANES FACTORY

WHERE: UNC-CH PIT

WHEN: WEDNESDAY MARCH 19 AT 3:30 PM
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