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Student Labor Alliance calls on U. to end Adidas contract

The U.’s plans to terminate ties with Adidas in 2014 are not immediate enough, SLA members said

The Student Labor Alliance urged President Christina Paxson to immediately terminate the University’s contract with Adidas in a rally held Tuesday at noon.

More than 50 students gathered on the steps of the Stephen Robert ’62 Campus Center, where Mariela Martinez ’14 kicked off the rally. Martinez delivered the opening speech, which enumerated the details of the severance Adidas has not paid to 2,800 workers laid off from the Indonesian PT Kizone factory two years ago.

“Nearly $1.8 million is still owed to the workers,” according to a factory investigation by the Workers Rights Consortium. The consortium is “an independent labor rights monitoring organization,” according to its mission statement.

SLA members said the University is violating the Vendor Code of Conduct for Brown University Licensees, which states the “University is committed to conducting its business affairs in a socially responsible manner consistent with its educational and public service mission.”

Adidas currently supplies apparel for Brown varsity sports teams, The Herald previously reported.

“Paxson is not enforcing the Code of Conduct,” SLA member Trevor Culhane ’15 said, adding that the code exists to prevent workers’ rights violations.

Culhane said the alliance believes Paxson is ignoring the University’s core values.

“She’s ignoring student voices, and she’s ignoring the history of the University … as a socially responsible institution,” he said.

The University will not renew its contract with Adidas “when it expires in spring 2014,” wrote Marisa Quinn, vice president for public affairs and University relations, in an email to The Herald. Until then, the University “will continue to monitor their response,” she wrote. “We have also asked Adidas to reconsider their stance and have been consulting with appropriate watchdog groups to monitor the situation. These actions have been taken in response to concerns that students have raised.”

The rally included a speech from Saudi Garcia ’14, a member of the women’s club rugby team.

Garcia said athletes are trying to bring pride to the University when they compete on the field, but that isn’t possible when they are wearing Adidas athletic wear.

Irene Rojas Caroll ’15 of the Queer Alliance, who was draped in a rainbow flag of “queer swag,” spoke about other inequalities in factories and sweatshops like homosexual slurs and sexual harassment.

The group then marched into University Hall chanting “Paxson! Step off it! Take action! Step off it!” and “What’s outrageous? Sweatshop wages!”

Members held signs reading, “We stand with workers” and wore spray-painted armbands that read “badidas.”

Receptionist to the President Heather Goode informed the group that Paxson and her assistant Kim Roskiewicz were not in the office at the time. Culhane then handed Goode a T-shirt with a picture of 100 workers and a list of the 1,000 signatures SLA has gathered through their online and in-print petition.

SLA gave the shirt to Paxson to “represent the workers she’s ignoring,” Culhane said.

In February, Paxson told the students the University would not be renewing the contract with Adidas, which is set to expire in the next couple of years. Eight universities have terminated their contracts with Adidas. Pennsylvania State University and Santa Clara University are the most recent universities to end their contracts. Among the rest are Cornell, Oberlin College and Rutgers University. Other labor groups at universities such as those at Penn and the University of Tennessee have staged similar protests against Adidas.


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