Is UCLA’s Merch Sourced to Support Workers and the Planet?
This Year, We Are Working to Build Ethical and Environmentally-Sustainable Merch Options
August 2021 Edition
Buy Your Values is a collective of UCLA students who want our bookstore and the merchandise our campus organizations give away to reflect our values by supporting ethical and sustainable apparel and other branded merchandise. We are working with other student organizations on campus and across the country that are interested in similar work. To learn more about our movement, click here.
Our latest campaign has been in solidarity with the Garment Worker Center and garment workers across California. We are working with other progressive orgs to support the fight for the Garment Worker Protection Act, or Senate Bill 62. A link to the campaign website for the law can be found here: http://garmentworkeract.org/.
The goal of the legislation is to fill the gaps discovered by manufacturers in the years since the last worker protection/wage theft prevention legislation in California by authorizing the Labor Commissioner’s Bureau of Field Enforcement to cite wage theft offenders, closing the loopholes surrounding subcontracting, and eliminating the practice of piece-rate wages. Buy Your Values will be releasing a letter in support of the bill, and we hope each of you do the same by signing onto the following petition: https://garmentworkercenter.ourpowerbase.net/civicrm/petition/sign?sid=2.
The bill passed the Assembly Labor Committee several weeks ago, so we must fight for it until it has landed on Governor Newsom’s desk! This work is important to regulate Los Angeles’s garment industry, and will be a powerful step for the industry as a whole.
Throughout the year our BYV campaign will revolve around developing an ethical retail purchasing option for customers, student organizations, and departments . We want to build relationships with cultural/political organizations across campus. We seek to target organizations that host cultural nights and graduations for their communities, and orient planners towards purchasing from ethically-sourced brands. The uphill battles will be building relationships with student organizations and creating relationships between companies and licensing.
The retail option will be an e-commerce store to sell licensed UCLA merch which values workers’ rights, worker democracy, and sustainable-practices. Our working draft of our standards are included in this document that was proposed to Licensing and the ASUCLA Store several months ago. New focuses from the current Licensing Code of Conduct include worker democracy (supporting collective bargaining, unions, and worker cooperatives) and sustainability (upcycling practices, low-impact manufacturing, and other sustainability practices). To build this e-commerce platform, we will be working with Ethix Merch to handle distribution and relationships with potential clients. The hard part is building relationships with student organizations and a demand among students. The products will need to be sold! It will be our goal to create that demand leading up to a proposal to Licensing, and to sustain that demand in the coming years, after we are successful in offering the platform.
Join us as we build out this righteous campaign: @buyyourvaluesucla on IG, @BuyYourValuesUCLA on Facebook, and @ValuesatUCLA on Twitter.
We are also reposting notable campaigns, including the re-signing of the Bangladesh Fire and Safety Accord and the passage of the Garment Worker Protection Act in California, we well as posting our on infographics and newsletters. There’s a lot to learn about the garment industry, and the movement to empower workers within it. Look out in mid-September for our first event to kick off the year, a viewing party for the documentary True Cost.
Keep a Lookout for the Upcoming Events:
True Cost Viewing Party
Phonebanking for SB62
Q&A with Garment Workers Across the US
Our progress to date:
Support for AB 62, the Garment Worker Protection Act: We wrote and released a letter of support addressed to the California legislature. We have continually reposted graphics and events put on by the Garment Worker Center in anticipation of the vote on this legislation.
Hosted Panels: May 15, 2021 - We partnered with the Garment Worker Center, UCLA Labor Center, Student Labor Advocacy Project, Unravel, Refine LA, FAST at UCLA, and United Students Against Sweatshops to talk about worker justice and its necessary intersections with sustainability, immigrant justice, and other movements. The event also sought to create connections between student orgs and community orgs, for the Garment Worker Center’s campaign for SB 62, the Garment Worker Protection Act (petition link here).
Presentation: March 12, 2021 - We presented to the ASUCLA Board of Directors Services Committee about a pilot program proposal to support ethical brands. We got the green light to proceed in talks with the ASUCLA bookstore.
Survey: Gathered over 150 responses to our student-purchasing-practices survey that showed, among other things, the importance of aesthetics and cost when buying clothes.
Bookstore: Met with ASUCLA bookstore management multiple times and presented a pilot program to get $10,000 worth of ethically produced merchandise into the store by Fall 2021. We will scale up the program as we are successful.
Workshop: Dec. 7, 2020 - We facilitated a workshop with over 70 attendees featuring different ethical clothing manufacturers and distributors such as Alta Gracia, Ethix Merch, and Carolina Textile District to discuss the importance of supporting workers’ rights and worker democracy at the factory level.
Creating Demand: Now the hard work begins. We know we are doing the right thing. Now we have to create consumer and student demand for socially responsible merchandise where workers are lifted up and their communities made stronger with good jobs and support a living environment. We can do this! Will you join us here?
Thank you for reading this far. Sign up here for our e-newsletter and email us for a presentation to your group at firstname.lastname@example.org. We’ll show you how easy it is to Buy Your Values!
Buy Your Values UCLA