SLAC_sm_416

SUNDEEP MALLADI/Herald photo

Chanting, yelling and dealing out ultimatums, representatives of the Student Labor Action Coalition stormed Chancellor John Wiley's office Wednesday, demanding the chancellor adopt a new policy for University of Wisconsin-licensed apparel.

Continuing their efforts to reduce the amount of UW-licensed apparel produced in sweatshops, SLAC representatives presented Wiley with an ultimatum demanding he endorse the "full language" of a union apparel policy by March 24.

Among the provisions SLAC representatives asked Wiley to agree to include requiring 25 percent of UW-licensed apparel be produced in factories allowing "legitimate representative labor unions" and making licensees pay a higher price per item, so factories could afford to pay workers a living wage.

However, Wiley said he was "disappointed" in SLAC's tactics Wednesday, and added he has worked extensively with SLAC in recent months to adopt most of the organization's recommendations — including a year-long pilot licensing program last December.

"I don't think those tactics are particularly effective," Wiley said. "We do have a committee that has student representatives on it — including some of the students from SLAC — that sits down and really thinks about these issues and debates them … and that's the body that I listen to on this issue."

During the interview, Wiley espoused patience in judging what licensing policies are and are not effective, especially in regards to the pilot licensing program.

The pilot program aims at reducing the amount of UW-licensed apparel produced in sweatshops by 25 percent and requires that licensees source a quarter of their production to factories that comply with human rights standards set by the Worker Rights Consortium — an international human rights watchdog organization.

"A year-long program takes a year to find out whether it works or not," Wiley said. "It hasn't been a year yet, folks, it's been a few weeks."

However, SLAC representatives insisted on immediate action, claiming the administration has continuously kept "running around in circles."

SLAC representative Chapin Smith said "direct action" was SLAC's best method in trying to convince Wiley to endorse the organization's demands.

"I'm sure he's worried about what we might do," Smith said, threatening future actions if the chancellor does not agree to SLAC's ultimatum. "If he doesn't capitulate with our demands, we will pursue a pattern of escalation via direct action."

When asked if he could elaborate on what such actions could be, Smith said, "to do so would compromise our strategy."

Smith added that SLAC students were "not unreasonable people."

Despite the manner in which they presented their arguments, Wiley said he would take into consideration SLAC's recommendations.

"I will read it tonight, I'll take it home with me," Wiley said.