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Month of December, 2008
The event attracted 75 people -it was truly packed and we had an amazing discussion! There were some folks from Bridges not Walls, who talked about Tacoma's ICE detention center, where they hold weekly candlelight vigils. Other audience members described the law that allows the border patrol to conduct raids and arrests within 100 miles of a border and that, as a result, there are often controls and checkpoints in the region. Some folks didn't even know there were raids in Olympia, or that this detention center even existed right next door...
It was beautiful to be discussing all of this right there at Traditions, a place based on fair trade and packed with sweatfree goods and clothing. Special thanks to Beth Provo for letting us stay at her place that evening! Be sure to visit Marigold, Beth's hip fair trade clothing store.
The room was truly packed and as usual it was fun to hear the laughter of an all-student audience. This was a truly activist screening: a representative of the Washington State Labor Council, AFL-CIO, spoke about ongoing campaigns, SLAP called on students to attend an action on campus the next day and a member of CISPES invited folks to a dinner to learn more about a delegation to oversee El Salvador's next elections. And the Washington Fair Trade Coalition, which is currently engaged in the Sweatfree Washington Campaign, led a discussion regarding bringing a sweatfree purchasing ordinance to Seattle, and passed flyers to send a petition to Seatle's mayor. Stephanie Celt, Director of the Washington Fair Trade Coalition, noted, "I hope it will help with our broader work on trade policy, to help people recognize how bad trade policy can lead to these kinds of circumstances, and to generate thought about what kinds of changes to our trade agreements might help avoid or mitigate this type of exploitation."
Kristin Beifus (SweatFree Washington) adds: "[Our goals were] to raise the profile of Sweat-Free campaigns working on campus and in the community by highlighting sweatshops in the US, and engage people to become part of these campaigns. The film was a call to action and Robert and Almudena made every effort to link the film with local initiatives. By the end 30 people had signed postcards indicating that they were interested in becoming involved with SweatFree Campaigns."
This event was sponsored by SweatFree Washington, the Student Labor Action Project (SLAP), Labor Studies, Latin American Studies, Washington Fair Trade, the Washington State Labor Council and CISPES.
This event was actually the seed for the rest of the tour, and it all started when student organizer Star Murray contacted us with the idea of doing a screening of Made in L.A. at the University of Washington at Tacoma. Star's enthusiasm lead to plans for a big event, and we then started coordinating with the Pacific Northwest Sweatfree Campaigns to turn an evening into a big tour...
Representatives from SweatFree Washington and SLAP came down to speak at the event and helped link the issues in the film with local actions happening in Tacoma and Seattle. There was also a really interesting conversation about how free trade agreements have changed economic conditions and force people around the world to migrate, which in turn ties the issues in the film with the global landscape. Finally, a union member made the point that that even though workers come and go from seasonal or temporary jobs, workers who learn the organizing skills shown in Made in L.A. at worker centers then take those skills with them to other jobs. Really interesting points...
Afterwards we went to have dinner with Star and UWT Professor Emily Noelle Ignacio
who told us that "the film does the work for me".
This event was hosted by: Student Labor Action Project @ UWT, ACLU Student Chapter, Black Student Union, Latino Student Organization, HOPE Network; and sponsored by: UW Tacoma Student Activities Board, UWT Arts and Lectures, Harry Bridges Center for Labor Studies, UWT Diversity Resource Center and AVC Cedrick Howard.
It was particularly moving to engage with high school students from the Willamette Academy who were in attendance. One student asked why we would even care to put so much time into this -if this was not our personal struggle, why care? It's funny, it's such a basic and important question. We each told the story of the making of the film, and our own personal reasons for doing it, and the great importance of resisting and calling out injustice and suffering whenever you become aware of it, whether or not it touches you personally. Heavy stuff. But she seemed moved...
This event was sponsored by: Alianza, the Lilly Project, Women and Gender Studies, and American Ethnic Studies.
The event was hoping to gather support for a sweatfree ordinance in the city of Ashland, which was expected to come to City Council on December 2 (then posponed till December 16). "The City of Ashland should ensure that its employees' uniforms aren't coming from sweatshops", stated Wes Brain at the event, "SOJwJ and SweatFree Ashland are taking a resolution to city council on Dec. 2 so the timeliness of the screening is significant."
Read an article about Ashland's Sweatfree efforts and Made in L.A.'s screening in Ashland Daily Tidings.
Kirstin Beifus from SweatFree Washington summarized the experience: "The film brings the issue to our doorstep and rings the bell-and after meeting these women and their families one is compelled to answer. It reminds everyone working on campaigns and those interested in supporting workers rights why this work is important and who is really on the front lines of these efforts and has everything to lose: the workers. It is a galvanizing experience, as we are all consumers and thus support of the apparel industry with our incomes and our tax dollars so none of us is without responsibility."
We're especially happy that the events with Made in L.A. were able to connect the issues in the film with the concrete issues that each community faces, and to move people to action. Kristin noted, "[As a result of the tour] there will be more concerted efforts with sweat-free groups on UW campus, labor academics and community groups. SweatFree NW, with the success of the Made in LA Tour, is talking about organizing a worker's tour at the beginning of next year with SweatFree Communities." And Wes Brain added: "One success of the Made in LA tour, from my point of view, was how it strengthened how all of our various sweat-free campaigns in the northwest are "working together". We are on the same page and the name of that page is "solidarity".
Here's to many more!
Special thanks to all the organizers that were involved in making this tour a reality: Elizabeth Swager (Sweatfree Northwest), Kristen Beifus (Sweatfree Washington), Dick Meyer (South Sound Clean Clothes Campaign and Traditions Café & Fair Trade), Stephanie Celt (Washington Fair Trade Coalition), Star Murray (UWT SLAP), Alejandro Jimenez (Alianza), Wes Brain (Southern Oregon Jobs With Justice), Barbara Scott Winkler (Southern Oregon University), Liana Foxvog (Sweatfree Communities), and many, many more!