Supporting the Garment Worker Protection Act, SB 62 in its Path to the Governor's Desk
Welcome to our Buy Your Values monthly e-newsletter for the month of July to inform our supporters about the progress we’re making in getting ethical and sustainable merchandise into our ASUCLA bookstore that better reflects our progressive values. We also are continuing to formulate our campaign to build a student movement at UCLA, and are in the campaign-planning process. As we mentioned in last month’s newsletter, we also want to move in solidarity for the passage of the Garment Worker Protection Act.
For those who don’t know, Buy Your Values is a collective of UCLA students who want our bookstore to reflect our values by supporting ethical and sustainable apparel and other merchandise at the store. We are working with other student organizations on campus and across the country that are interested in similar work.
Our campaign during the year will likely revolve around developing a separate retail and purchasing option for customers, student organizations, and departments to buy ethically. 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. Stay tuned for the following month while we begin to announce our campaign for the year.
Our current work is also dedicated to supporting 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/. Its goal is to fill the gaps discovered by manufacturers in the years since the last worker protection/wage theft prevention legislation in California. It will do this 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. It 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.
Did you know branded merchandise for colleges is a $4.6 billion per year business? And that the ASUCLA bookstore sells over $20 million a year? We want to make sure that our money is going to ethical companies that care about their workers, not exploited workers who are paid poverty wages. We can do better.
To learn more about our movement, click here.
Our progress to date:
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.
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.
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).
Creating Demand: Now the hard work begins. Creating 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 email@example.com. We’ll show you how easy it is to Buy Your Values!
Jane, Rachel, Ragini, Yondon, Cameron, Justin, Julia, and Sachi