Members of the Student Coalition Against Labor Exploitation and supporters from the USC community gathered around Tommy Trojan on Thursday in remembrance of the 289 Pakistani workers who died in a factory fire in September.
SCALE’s current initiative is to encourage USC President C. L. Max Nikias to join the Worker Rights Consortium, a labor rights organization that investigates working conditions at factories.
The group claimed that the Pakistani factory used the monitor UL Responsible Sourcing, which they said has ties to the production of USC apparel.
Director of Trademark Licensing and Social Responsibility at USC Matt Curran said UL Responsible Sourcing did a one-day compliance assessment of the factory for KiK, a German retailer. The assessment took place nine months before the fire occured and was the only time UL Responsible Sourcing audited the factory, Curran said.
Curran also said the factory does not produce any USC products.
Two men who were involved in the factory’s daily operations are being held in jail pending judicial inquiry, according to The News International, Pakistan’s largest English newspaper.
During one part of the candlelight vigil, SCALE member Sarah Newell read a statement while the entire gathering repeated the statement.
“What we are asking is simple,” Newell said. “We have a responsibility to use the power of our student voice to demand changes for better and safer workplaces that make USC apparel. The Trojan Family consists of everyone from President Nikias to students to our dining hall workers to the garment workers who sew our apparel. The Trojan Family doesn’t end at the borders of our campus.”
Members of the Sirens, USC’s all-female a cappella group, joined SCALE and sang at the vigil to show their support for the vigil.
Newell highlighted the importance of USC groups working together to address labor exploitation.
“We would like to invite the student body to stand with us and ask the administration to sign on to the WRC,” Newell said. “We love USC, we want to be able to wear our Trojan clothes with pride [and] we want to not be ashamed that they’re made in sweat shops.”