University of Kentucky joins group fighting sweatshop labor

lblackford@herald-leader.comMarch 19, 2013 

The University of Kentucky student group United Students Against Sweatshops had an interfaith candlelight vigil Monday for workers who have died in the garment industry. The vigil, on UK's main lawn, was intended to encourage President Capilouto to affiliate UK with an independent watchdog group called the Workers Rights Consortium. Photo by Mark Ashley

LEXINGTON HERALD-LEADER

The University of Kentucky will join a national group to work against sweatshop labor being used to make official university apparel.

President Eli Capilouto announced Friday that UK would join the Workers Rights Consortium, along with 180 other U.S. universities.

"I am very appreciative of the manner in which these students have engaged with me on this issue and am gratified to be part of an institution that puts into practice the values it espouses," Capilouto said in a statement.

The move was prompted by the UK chapter of United Students Against Sweatshops, which started meeting with Capilouto last year.

"As the fourth-largest apparel-licensing school in the U.S., UK's decision to affiliate with the WRC will have a huge impact on the enforcement of labor laws in major factories around the world," UK's Students Against Sweatshops members said in a statement.

Meredith Dunlevy, a member of the group, praised the decision.

"UK is showing that we won't put up with anything less than a living wage and safe working conditions for the people who make our clothing," Dunlevy said. "We hope to continue working with the administration to ensure these rights are upheld."

UK already is a member of the Fair Labor Association, which also works to prevent unethical practices in university apparel production.

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