Rally Celebrates GU’s Departure From Fair Labor Association

By Tracy Zupancis Hoya Staff Writer

Members of the Georgetown Solidarity Committee, speakers from different fair labor groups, students and faculty gathered for a rally at noon on Tuesday, March 28, to celebrate Georgetown’s exit from the Fair Labor Association. The crowd numbered approximately 35 people.

Laura McSpedon (COL ’00), former president of GSC, began the rally by announcing that Georgetown’s move from the FLA to the Worker’s Rights Consortium marks an important point in GSC’s campaign. She also informed the crowd that the struggle is continuing across the nation’s universities. Purdue, for example, began a hunger strike Monday to end only when their school leaves the FLA. She then led the group in a chant of “no justice, no peace!”

GSC’s current President Vanessa Waldref (COL ’02) thanked those gathered for coming and said she was “proud to be with a group of caring passionate students . It’s all a part of student’s taking an active role in the university.”

Dean of Students James A. Donahue then addressed the crowd, saying that it was good to be at a rally where he and students were on the same side. “What impresses me is the university’s ability to come together,” said Donahue, adding that success “is a testimony to what we all can do.”

“This is an extraordinary university and we’re not afraid to do extraordinary things,” said president of the Georgetown chapter of the NAACP Aaron Polkey (SFS ’02). Polkey explained that though he was brought into the process near its close, he was glad that the student voice was heard and emphasized the importance of students staying true to their ideals.

Head of the Asian Student Association Hannah Sin (SFS ’02) said that as an Asian-American, she was glad to see the university take a stand against unfair labor practices in other countries and make a strike for “the workers’ inherent right to good working conditions.”

Treston Fulkner, a representative from Jobs With Justice addressed the crowd as part of the group’s Student Labor Action Project. Fulkner updated the group about what else is going on across the United States concerning fights for fair labor. “This is the first official victory associated with the student day of action,” he said. He notified students of a rally slated to occur on April 5 at George Washington University for workers’ rights. “Thank you,” Fulkner added, “for fighting the systemic problem of corporatization of education.”

Also gathered were representatives from Pride at Work, an organization for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender workers. One member of the organization, Kipuki Kualii, thanked the Georgetown community for the progress made thus far, saying, “we see students and youth not as the future, but as the now . and it is critical that we all stay together.” He promised that the group will stand behind the GSC throughout the future and hoped that the GSC will support Pride at Work’s campaigns.

After a chant of “Hey, hey, ho, ho, sweatshop labor’s got to go!” Paul Booth of the Federal, State and Municipal Employees Union addressed those gathered. Students across the nation, “are on the moral cutting edge” he said, adding, “Students are leading us, making it possible to have world-wide changes.” Like Kualii, Booth pledged that he personally and his organization as a larger entity will support the GSC.

Rita Clarke, a representative of the United States-Nicaragua Friendship Coalition informed those gathered about the “unfair” debts that many third-world countries have incurred. According to Clarke, payment on debt interest results in deteriorating conditions in many locations. She invited Georgetown students to protest on April 9 to cancel the debt, which, she said, “Is not right in this time of prosperity in the United States.”

The last speaker, Nate McCray (SFS ’03), a member of GSC, outlined the committee’s plans for the future. “We want to be there when students rally against gun violence . be there in April to rally against the IMF and World Bank . be there for everyone we’ve had support from,” he said.

The rally closed with the crowd singing “Solidarity Forever” to the tune of the Battle Hymn of the Republic.

“We are really excited about the step Georgetown has taken, being there for other student groups and making the WRC work,” commented McSpedon.

Related Links

 GU Leaves Fair Labor Association

 Solidarity Committee Delivers Ultimatum (March 24, 2000)

 365 Days Later, Revisiting 85 Hours (Feb. 8, 2000)

 Sweatshop Battle Working Overtime (Feb. 8, 2000)

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