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The Scarlet & Black

The Scarlet & Black

Fight For 15 organizes for higher minimum wage


Fight For 15 Graphic

Candace Mettle

As Grinnell Students Against Sweatshops (GSAS) concludes their first campaign, co-leader Nyx Hauth ’19 stated that the group is beginning another battle — this time for a livable wage for all campus workers. Next semester, Fight For 15 (FF15), a movement that began with fast-food workers in New York City that has now branched off to other occupations and into a union, will become a subgroup of GSAS.

GSAS was created primarily on the efforts of Lucid Thomas ’19, who comes from a family of activists. His older sister is in her last year as national organizer for United Students Against Sweatshops, the main national organization, and his father formed the current union on campus for gardeners when he was at Grinnell.

Although GSAS is a relatively new organization, they have already initiated their Nike campaign and an effort to raise awareness against corporate greed. In the past, Nike has been accused of unethical business practices and unfairly profiting off cheap labor in developing countries, and both GSAS and FF15 are driven by an interest in worker’s rights and compliance to Workers Right Consortium (WRC) guidelines, a group of which Grinnell College is a part.

“Last semester we sent letters to the administration and faculty,” Hauth recalled. “We went to a conference for USAS [United Students Against Sweatshops], the national organization, and made a lot of connections with other groups, got to see what they were doing, and then we took that back to campus. What we accomplished now is that we got the College to send a letter to Nike saying that we would go as far as to stop purchasing from them. We’re the first school to get this far in this campaign.”

GSAS’s Nike campaign successfully worked with the College to send of a letter to Nike saying that Grinnell would be willing to go as far as ceasing the sale of Nike products on campus “if Nike did not comply with the WRC in 60 days,” according to an email from Hauth.

The group also attributes its success to the willingness of the Apparel Committee (the group of administrators who oversee the purchasing of uniforms and equipment for sports) to give unanimous support to the cause.

“Honestly, we didn’t expect [the Apparel Committee] to be as helpful as they were. They had questions and we had to convince them, but they were obviously wanting to do the right thing,” Hauth said.

If Nike does not change their business practice or respond to the College by late May or early June, when the 60-day grace period is over, then Hauth said that GSAS will go to the office of the President and demand further action.

Furthermore, they plan to use the same techniques, such as tabling and connecting with other groups and people on campus, to make FF15 into another success. For example, GSAS has already begun extensive research on whether or not 15 dollars is an adequate amount for the standard of living here in Grinnell.

“I’m very hopeful that FF15 will go on to other campuses. College students are very separated from the workers and that separation shouldn’t occur,” Hauth said. “Students are workers and I want to drive that home in our FF15 campaign.”

Even if one isn’t a student worker, according to Hauth, the group wants to stress the importance of being involved in some capacity.

“You have a lot of real power now. Even if you’re not a worker in a factory, things that are going on directly affect and the way you want to be living the world. Even if you don’t have time to come to our meetings, you can come to our actions or just sign petitions — it doesn’t that much take time,” they said.

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