Student activists at the University of Washington are celebrating what could be a precedent-setting contract for workers' rights.
UW signed a contract with Nike that allows a watchdog group to inspect its overseas factories that make Husky clothing.
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For the last two years, the group UW United Students Against Sweatshops", also known as USAS, has been pushing the university to renegotiate its licensing agreement with Nike to allow an independent watchdog group to inspect its factories overseas that make Husky apparel for UW.
“We don’t think about the work that goes into it, and as consumers, especially in the U.S., we kind of just ignore it,” said student Karen Jotgill.
That is why Jotgill, and other members of USAS are standing up for the workers who make the clothes.
“And the fact we could influence that and purchasing practices to stand in solidarity with workers was very, very meaningful,” added Hannah Dolling.
The landmark agreement is a big step for workers’ rights.
A lot of money was on the line - for Nike to make the UW-branded clothing and for the university, which gets a cut of the sales.
“We believe our contract is going to serve as a blueprint for other universities that are looking to fight for the same thing,” added Dolling.
While Jotgill and Dolling will be graduating this year, Corina Yballa, a junior, is staying put at UW a little longer.
And her fight for workers is far from over.
“We'll be holding those in power accountable for protecting workers at UW and garment factories,” said Yballa.
UW President Ana Mari Cauce said the school is the first to have this contract with Nike. She also said she is confident it will serve as a model for other universities moving forward.
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