(Washington, September 25, 2013) – With the goal of strengthening workers’ rights and building power for students as well as workers, the AFL-CIO and United Students Against Sweatshops (USAS) today entered into a new national partnership. The two groups will collaborate on important global solidarity campaigns, from ensuring safe working conditions for Bangladeshi garment workers to protecting the freedom of U.S. workers to organize for better jobs whether they work on campus or for companies with university contracts like T-Mobile.
The new partnership builds on calls for innovation and inclusion at the just-concluded AFL-CIO convention in Los Angeles, where delegates agreed to open the door to the labor movement and engage with allies outside unions to tackle the challenges confronting working people. Today’s partnership agreement between the AFL-CIO and USAS is the first concrete step since the convention unanimously agreed to expand community partnerships.
“The labor movement shares USAS’s values and vision for global solidarity and social justice. Together, we are stronger and better positioned to meet the mutual goals and objectives of improving the lives of working people,” said AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka.
“This partnership demonstrates the AFL-CIO’s determination to turn commitments on paper into action.”
USAS is the nation’s largest youth-led campaign organization dedicated to building a student-labor movement. Its affiliated locals on over 150 campuses run locally and nationally-coordinated campaigns for corporate accountability and economic justice, working in partnership with organizations of workers. USAS campaigns expose and hold accountable corporations that exploit people who work on campuses, in communities and in the overseas factories where collegiate apparel is produced. USAS campaigns employ the unique moral authority, energy, and power students hold within universities, which often act as anchor institutions in communities and the global economy.
“As current and future workers, college students are proud to stand side by side with the labor movement. Whether it’s supporting Bangladeshi workers’ demand for safe workplaces, or opposing Scott Walker’s attacks on public workers, it’s clear that our struggles are bound together,” said Lingran Kong, a member of USAS’s Coordinating Committee and student at the University of Wisconsin. “This agreement solidifies our commitment to building a stronger movement to defend and advance the rights of students and workers across the globe.”
Critical to the success of this partnership is the building of relationships between the student and labor movements at the state and local levels. The agreement outlines new tactics for shared planning, strategizing, and organizing at those levels to strengthen each party’s movements and better advance the interests of both students and workers.