May 8, 2008
The peaceful protest of students at UNC Chapel Hill engaged in a sit-in outside Chancellor Moeser’s office to demand an end to university apparel being made in sweatshops itself ended when the Chancellor ordered their arrest.
The Chancellor’s order to arrest the students came on day 16 of the sit-in and only hours after NC AFL-CIO Secretary-Treasurer MaryBe McMillan appeared and spoke in solidarity with the students at a rally outside the South Building.
In a statement posted on its web site, UNC Sweatfree responded to the arrests:
“Chancellor Moeser characterized our actions as illegal, demonstrated by his order to arrest us– but let us ask, which is more criminal, taking a stand for the human rights of workers by peacefully occupying an office of a public institution that our tuition pays for, or allowing our Carolina apparel to be made under sweatshop conditions that violate international and domestic law?
“The sit-in ends with our arrests; but the campaign for justice for all workers will continue.”
UNC Chapel Hill makes considerable profits from the sale of apparel branded with its name and logo – apparel stiched with abuse of workers toiling in sweatshops. Arresting students that rightly take a stand against such injustices through peaceful, civil disobedience is an outrage. Such a heavy handed response may be typical of the authorities in countries where UNC-CH apparel is made, but it has no place at the flagship institution for higher education in North Carolina.
The NC State AFL-CIO calls on Chancellor Moeser and others in the administration of the University of North Carolina to immediately drop all charges against the students and adopt the Designated Suppliers Program (DSP) so that students, faculty and Tar Heel fans everywhere can wear UNC apparel with pride.