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Month of December, 2008

Pacific Northwest Tour!

Just before Thanksgiving, we did a screening tour with Made in L.A. in the Pacific Northwest. Organized in partnership with the Pacific Northwest Sweatfree campaign, the tour stopped in 6 locations in Washington and Oregon and provided support to Sweatfree campaigns in the area. The idea of a Sweatfree campaign is to convince school districts, cities, states, and other institutional purchasers to adopt "sweatfree" purchasing policies and to prevent tax dollars from subsidizing sweatshops and abusive child labor. In the process talking about the film, of course, discussions linked Sweatfree work to discussions of fair labor as well as immigration reform in the US. Like our previous tours, it was quite an invigorating experience!

Pacific Northwest Tour -Olympia, WA

On Monday, November 17th Robert and I flew into Seattle and drove straight down to Oympia, WA for our first event at Traditions Café and World Folk Art. It's a fabulous café, fair trade store and community hub run by Dick Meyer and it's also at the heart of the South Sound Clean Clothes Campaign, a coalition of students, union members, people of faith, and concerned citizens raising awareness about sweatshop conditions.

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.

Pacific Northwest Tour -Seattle, WA

Monday night we drove back to Seattle, where we were having our second stop in the tour the next evening at the University of Washington.

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.

 

Pacific Northwest Tour -Tacoma, WA

On Wednesday, after a very brief tour of the Fremont neighborhood in Seattle, we drove south to Tacoma, for the third stop on the tour.

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".Smile


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.

Pacific Northwest Tour - Salem, OR

On Thursday we departed Washington and drove south for several hours, all the way to Willamette University in Salem, OR. Despite the fact that this particular event was put together fairly quickly, there was a great turnout, and student organizer Alejandro Jimenez from Alianza did a fantastic job! We passed sheets asking the governor to pass state-wide sweatfree ordinances, thus moving student to concrete action, and union representative spoke about the Ford-hall Delta Drywall situation in Salem.

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.

Pacific Northwest Tour -Portland, OR

On Friday, Nov 21 we attended the celebration party for Portland PDX Sweatfree Campaign, to celebrate the first sweatfree ordinance in the Northwest! On Oct 15th, the Portland City Council meeting saw a huge victory for workers rights. Thanks to the collective effort of all sweatfree supporters who fought to make sure their tax dollars do not support sweatshops, the City of Portland supported the passage of the Portland Sweatshop Free Purchasing Policy, ensuring public employee uniforms are made under humane conditions including a ban on child labor, no forced overtime, non-poverty wages, the right to join a union and an end to discriminatory firings. For more info and to contact Elizabeth Swager, the campaign's coordinator, read the press release and the imc's article on the ordinance.

Pacific Northwest Tour -Ashland, OR

On Saturday morning we made the longest drive of all - all the way down to Ashland, OR, our last stop in the tour. The event, held at the Southern Oregon University, was organized by Wes Brain, Chair of Southern Oregon Jobs with Justice and Barbara Scott Winkler, Chair of the Women Studies Program and an early fan of the film (check her comment about Made in L.A. in our Audience Reactions page).

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.

This event was sponsored by Women's Studies Program of the Department of Social Science, Policy and Culture (SSPC) , SOU Women's Resource Center and Southern Oregon Jobs with Justice.

Closing thoughts on our Pacific Northwest "Sweatfree" Tour

It was a beautiful experience to spend a week touring in the Pacific Northwest and to connect with audiences around the many issues that intersect in Made in L.A. Sweatfree Communities is especially aware of the importance of connecting immigration to Sweatfree labor, and so our discussions were deep and eye-opening for many.

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!

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