Who We Are_________________________________________

We are undergrads and grads, internationals and locals, engineers and economists- and we are concerned about violations against workers everywhere.


[-] backstory

In 1999 a group of students occupied the U of M President Lee Bollinger's office calling for the University to guarantee basic rights to the workers who made its apparel. In response, President Bollinger instituted a Code of Conduct. The code specifically detailed the standards that corporations like Nike and Adidas should adhere to when producing apparel with the Michigan logo. Another sit-in won factory disclosure months later. For the first time, the university called for corporations to reveal the names of factories that produced Michigan apparel so they could be monitored.

Around the United States, students at many other universities were winning similar victories. Through this coordinated campaign, a national organization was born: United Students Against Sweatshops (USAS). Today USAS remains a student-led non-profit that works as a support network by organizing conferences and campaigns on a variety of worker-justice related issues. SOLE continues to play an active role in USAS and campaigns around the country.

Unfortunately, many of the early victories of the campaign have become overshadowed. The university administrators have not continued to show interest in assuring the ethical production of apparel. The recent sit-in in April 2007 was the result of eight years of committee meetings and stalling under President Coleman. She is content to wait although she has acknowledged that the Code of Conduct is rarely enforced, or when it is those factories are closed.

SOLE has also been actively involved in other campaigns for worker rights within the campus community. They formed the coalition to kick "Killer Coke" off campus, and supported the Morgan Linen worker strike. Since the formation of the Lecturer's Employee Organization SOLE has always been available for actions. Members also work outside the campus community by volunteering with other local unions such as Unite Here! when needed and, SOLE frequently coordinates events with other community organizations.


[-] worldview

We stand behind the four principles of unity that USAS advocates: solidarity, anti-oppression, grassroots, and democracy. This means the structure of our group is a bit different, with non-hierarchical roles as the predominant means of organization. Recognized within this is the importance of each individualís self-evaluation process and personal responsibility.