Archive for Sunday, April 7, 2013

Letter: Living wage

April 7, 2013


To the editor:

Through a month-and-a-half-long campaign, United Students Against Sweatshops at Kansas University secured orders of union-made, living-wage apparel set to enter KU Bookstore in mid-April. This victory was achieved through students caring about conditions under which university apparel is made. It is a positive first step in addressing the enormous issue of sweatshop labor in the garment industry.

Nonetheless, the university still does business with companies engaged in sweatshop labor. A key example is the company Adidas, which markets KU athletic apparel. Adidas failed to ensure that 2,800 Indonesian garment workers were paid legally mandated severance totaling $1.8 million.

Our labor code of conduct, from the Collegiate Licensing Company, is clear: “Licensees shall pay employees, as a floor, at least the minimum wage required by local law or the local prevailing industry wage, whichever is higher, and shall provide legally mandated benefits.”

We should have reason to be proud of companies that make products for the university. This is not a reason to unconditionally sever ties with Adidas, but it is on KU to ensure companies it does business with act responsibly. Adidas’ contract with KU expires this summer; if Adidas wishes to do business with KU in the future, it should be obligated to pay their workers.


jhawkinsf 1 year ago

My business receives no tax abatements. But the principle of government doing that, for the purposes of a desired outcome that is considered a public good is the same as government imposing a minimum wage, also done to provide a public benefit. I believe government can and should have a role in both, if there is an overall benefit. You're arguing that one is fine and one is the not and then arguing the principle of the issue. There's an inherent contradiction in your argument.

The fact is that while you're accusing me of wanting to privatize profits while socializing risk, the opposite is true. You're wanting to privatize my risk while socializing my profits. Make up your mind.


Jeff Kilgore 1 year ago

Robotic labor in the next 10-20 years will date every argument here. That is what we should be focused on.


jafs 1 year ago

Wal-Mart was brilliant.

Hire a lot of "part time" employees (35 hour/week), and pay them minimum wage, without any benefits. Not only do you have low labor costs, but you've created a customer base for your stores as well, since those folks can't afford to shop anywhere else.

The only thing that would stop them is government, acting in the interests of the people, through regulation.


jafs 1 year ago

I did a little math - if one works 80 hours a week and sleeps 8 hours a night, that leaves about 4.5 hours a day for everything else.

Total hours in a week - 24x7=168. Sleep time - 8x7=56. Waking hours - 168-56=112. Non working hours - 112-80=32. Daily non working hours - 32/7=4.5.

So, after showering, cooking/eating three meals (let's say about 3 hours for all of that), you have 1.5 hours a day left over. Not much time for reflection, leisure, reading, music, entertainment, spending time with family, community, etc.


jafs 1 year ago


Yes, I don't see reducing the already meager benefits available to struggling folks as an answer. That fits nicely with the inhumane nature of capitalism, though, which tends to objectify and commoditize human life.

And, I never said anybody who showed up at a job deserved a living wage - you must have me confused with somebody else. What I said is that anybody who performs adequately at a full time job should make enough to live decently (not lavishly). To me that means they can pay their bills, and maybe even have a little left over for an occasional luxury. Even at about $10/hr, that's not easy to do, since minimum wage jobs don't generally include health insurance or other such benefits.

I don't know how to answer your question. I would call those folks "workaholics", perhaps, and if they're still both working 80 hours a week as business owners many years into their business, perhaps people who aren't making the best decisions as owners.

But, it's really not my business to say - if those are the choices they want to make, that's their right.

It certainly doesn't make me want to go out and start my own business, if that's really what it takes to succeed in one.


Patriot2 1 year ago

30 years ago I made less than one quarter of what I make now. I had rent, utilities, car payment and a child to raise. Today I have a house payment and utilities. My car is paid for but is on it's last leg and I have no children to raise. 30 years ago I went to the grocery store and the department store and bought what we needed and wanted. Today I shop the adds before grocery shopping if its not on sale I most likely decide that I don't need it. The clearance rack is my friend. The minimum wage has increased a number of times over the last 30 years. With each increase everything else also increased. The dollar will only buy about 25% of what it bought 30 years ago. Remember buying a hamburger, fries and a coke AND getting change back from a dollar? Try that today. Guess what I'm trying to say is, if you raise the minimum wage to $25.00 an hour, it won't make a difference everything will increase right along with it and the value of that dollar will go down further. Maybe we'll be able to get that burger, fries and coke and still get change back from a $10.


jafs 1 year ago

If they're not of value to the business, then you shouldn't hire them at all.

On the other hand, if you do, and they do an acceptable job (not stellar or outstanding), then I think they should make enough to live on. On top of that, performance based raises or bonuses make sense to me as well.

Given my experiences as an employee, I wouldn't trust most employers to reasonably determine what employees are "worth" - they tend to squeeze as much as possible from them and compensate them as little as they can.

And, it's precisely because those jobs are boring and nobody really wants to do them that those employees should be compensated adequately for them. It's soul destroying to spend your life doing things that have no inherent interest or meaning - how much is that worth?

By the way, from watching many episodes of Restaurant Impossible, a show about failing restaurants, I can say that it is very common advice from the host for owners to work less, delegate more, and create clearly defined job descriptions, all of which seem to go in the opposite direction from what you do.

The show has a 90% success rate, meaning that 9/10 places he visits are able to turn around a failing business (often on the verge of failure within months), and make it successful - pretty impressive.

Other common issues and themes are cleanliness, overly large menus, food quality, and decor.


Patriot2 1 year ago

What was that movie all those years ago? Soylent Green or something like that?


consumer1 1 year ago

The scary part of all of this is, these young people who really have no world life saavy, and want to make everything idealistic according to the brainwashing they get at KU will be controlling our retirement someday. That scares the double hockey sticks out of me. Euthanasia will become a popular idea again, because the retiree's won't be able to afford to live past sixety five years. An Amercian made loaf of bread, organic, fair trade, no pesticides, and no competition will cost $19.95. By the way, it will only last two days because it has no preservatives in it.


Bob Forer 1 year ago

I wonder how many of the folks posting who have no problems with sweat shops and other forms of exploitation consider themselves "Good Christians?"


cowboy 1 year ago

Collegiate goods have one of the highest profit margins for everyone involved in the manufacturing , sales , and retail sales of the products. There is no reason all of these products should not be produced in the states other than complete greed.


Lawrence Morgan 1 year ago

Either the goods, if they are sold by the KU bookstore, should be priced so that people can make a living, whatever country they're in, or American manufacturers can be found, such as what The Sycophant refers to, to do this work and still produce the shirts at a reasonable cost.


Curveball 1 year ago

Bring the jobs back to the US? Do you want to pay $60-70 for a T-shirt or hat?


Richard Heckler 1 year ago

KU should NOT be doing business with companies engaged in bullying sweatshop labor.

Bring the business back to the states. The USA need the jobs back home for our broken down economy driven by outsourced labor and fraud within the too big to fail financial institutions.

Bring the jobs back home.


cheeseburger 1 year ago

'Through a month-and-a-half-long campaign, United Students Against Sweatshops at Kansas University secured orders of union-made, living-wage apparel set to enter KU Bookstore in mid-April. This victory was achieved through students caring about conditions under which university apparel is made.'

You forgot to mention you extensive bullying efforts toward the bookstore. Bullying is generally frowned upon, but you seem rather proud of the bullying job you did.


deec 1 year ago

Google is your friend. " Most recently, the spotlight has turned on adidas – the athletic apparel company with a multi-million dollar exclusive contract for UW-Madison’s athletic apparel. Beginning in 2010, the P.T. Kizone factory in Tangerang, Indonesia, which manufactured collegiate apparel for adidas and other manufacturers, failed to pay wages and other mandated compensation required by Indonesian law, including severance pay after the factory closed and the owner declared bankruptcy. An Indonesian bankruptcy tribunal determined that the factory owed 30.8 billion Rupiah – approximately $3.4 million in unpaid compensation to the approximately 2600 workers at the factory."


KS 1 year ago

And how do you know that Adidas is not? You don't mention your proof of that. You make a statement, but what is your proof?


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