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Indonesian Workers ask for solidarity from GVSU students in their struggle for justice against Adidas

February 15, 2013

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Last night roughly 25 students and some community members came to listen to two Indonesian workers who were on tour with the group United Students Against Sweatshops (USAS).

The two Indonesian workers, Aslam Hidayat and Heni, talked about their experience of working in an Adidas contracted factory in their community and the working conditions, but these two humble workers spoke mostly about the campaign they are engaged in to get severance pay from Adidas, which closed the factory and owes them and their fellow workers $1.8 million in severance pay.

Last week, Aslam and Heni demonstrated at a Selena Gomez fashion show, featuring Adidas apparel, an action that got lots of attention.

Aslam and Heni were both very descriptive and very emotional in telling their stories and talk about the struggle to survive since the factory shut down. The also talked about being paid near the end with vouchers instead of cash and asked the students gathered is any of them would be willing to be paid in vouchers instead of money?

Both Aslam and Heni are part of a union that is still fighting for worker justice and solidarity and were on a several state tour to not only seek support for their struggle, but to assist USAS is rejuvenating the student movement.IMG_1329-500x300

The USAS tour was touring universities that currently have contracts with Adidas. Grand Valley State University is one of the many colleges that has contractual agreements with Adidas, although it was not known how large the contract was that GVSU was engaged in. One of the USAS organizers who also spoke last night said that the contract that U of M has is worth $60 million dollars and anytime a university ends its contract with a company like Adidas over human rights and labor abuse, that will get the company’s attention.

At the end of the talk, the USAS organizers asked if GVSU students were interested in starting up a chapter of United Students Against Sweatshops, to which the students responded with a resounding yes.

There was a USAS chapter at GVSU years ago, which worked on campaigns against Taco Bell, but also were part of the creation of the Workers Rights Consortium. If a GVSU chapter of USAS does get off the ground, we will provide updates on their efforts.

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