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Introduction Russell Athletics one of the United States'

Categories: EconomyState

Introduction

Russell Athletics, one of the United States’ top sportswear companies, along with a student advocacy organizations coalition led by USAS (United Students Against Sweatshops), on November 17, 2009, announced that Russell Athletics Company would re-hire 1,200 workers in Honduras who lost their jobs when it closed its factory. The workers union would allow them to bargain collectively and would be respected. The announcement came after two years of both international and local activism targeting the company. As observes, it was pushed by independent observers and the movement as one of the biggest contemporary international labor movement success stories.

This image underscores the development of student-led social advocacy movements which, utilizing modern social networking tools, have become more targeted, focused, and successful. Social movement theorists to date have tended to either focus on the particular tactics and strategies employed or on the macro-level phenomenon and processes. Both the NSM and RM perspectives have wanted to explain the significance and emergence of modern social movements in post- industrial societies, with the main arguments over whether those movements are regarded as part of the political economy or as collective action and autonomous reflections of civil society.

Social movements aiming at reforming companies are still an understudied research area (den Hond and de Bakker, 2007, p. 901), especially when it comes to student-led social movements.

Social movements and networks from an evolutionary view

Different theorists have different views regarding the issue. For example, Touraine 1988 excludes social movements from the political realm and includes them based on civil society. In contrast, Laclau and Mouffe, argue that conflicts have led to the development of the political systems through the proliferation of political “spaces.

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” Therefore, these new social movements are challenging the state’s role and redefinition of the private and public sectors and hence converting private issues into political ones (Mouffe, 1988, p. 93). Yet, for most RM and NSM scholars, social movements take place at a macro-institutional level. SM literature has covered two main features of the phenomenon: dynamics of social, and the influence of social movements on particular outcomes, usually at the societal level.

Scholars have traditionally described the influence of SM activism by looking at four components.

The first one is ‘framing processes’ (Snow and Trom, 2003). (McAdam et al., 1996, p. 6) define framing is as the “mindful strategic efforts carried out by groups of people to fashion their mutual understandings of the world that justify and motivate collective action.” The second one, “mobilizing structures,” is how the movement is organized to draw upon the resources of its supporters and members (McAdam, et.al, 1996, p. 3). The third component, ‘repertoires’ of contention, are used to carry out the organizational goals and correspond to organizational routines developed over time (Della Porta and Diani, 1999, p. 165-192) and they reflect the possible actions that the organization can carry out, given its current resources, the cultural and cognitive biases of the organization and the level of expertise. The fourth component ‘opportunity structure’ given by the specific environment in which the social movement is embedded, and the other components are used (Della Porta and Diani, 1999, p. 223) allowing certain options and excluding others from the organization’s range (Djelic and Quack, 2003, p. 18). Recent research on the appearance of nongovernmental organizations has established the influence of social networks as an instrument for advancing social movements (Yaziji and Doh, 2009).

The Russell Athletic case and United Students against Sweatshops (USAS)

The year 2009 November became an interesting one in the many years of struggle between the corporate world and the student anti-sweatshop movement. The USAS coalition convinced Russell Athletic, to agree to rehire 1,200 workers in Honduras (Greenhouse, 2009). As written in USAS’ mission statement, the coalition is a grassroots union run exclusively by students and the youth. USAS strives to run strategic student-labor unity campaigns and develop youth leadership with the aim of building sustainable power for working people.

The United Students against Sweatshops rejects and lobbies against abuses of the worldwide economic system to be a fight against sweatshops. The heart of its vision is the world in which human relationships and society are organized cooperatively, not competitively. USAS fight towards the world in which all people live in freedom from subjugation, in which people are valued as human beings rather than exploited in a pursuit of profits and productivity (USAS, 2010). Russell Corporation is a manufacturer of sports equipment, athletic attire, and shoes. This company with more than 100 year long history has been a top supplier of the team uniforms at the college, high school, and professional level (Russell Brands, 2010).

Russell is the leading private employer in Honduras (USAS, 2009). The incident related to Russell’s business in Honduras that led to the major 2009 scandal was the company’s decisions to fire 145 workers in 2007 for supporting a union that triggered the anti-sweatshop movement against the company. Russell had afterward admitted its wrongdoing and was required to undo its decision. However, the company in 2008 continued violating the worker rights by making threats to close the Jerzees de Honduras factory and constantly harassing the union activists. The company finally closed the factory in 2009 after months of struggle with a factory union (Worker Rights Consortium, 2010). The WRC (Worker Rights Consortium) conducted a detailed and thorough investigation of Russell’s activities, and finally released a report on November 7, 2008 documenting the violation facts of worker rights by Russell in its Honduras factory including the cases of death threats received by the union leaders (Worker Rights Consortium, 2010).

According to (Greenhouse, 2009), Norma Mejia, in May 2009, the union’s vice president, has publicly declared at a Berkshire Hathaway shareholders’ meeting that she had received death threats for facilitating and leading the union. The WRC continued monitoring the flow of the company’s scandal, and issued new updates and reports on this issue throughout 2009 as well as its recommendation for Russell’s management how to intervene the situation and resolve the conflict. As stated in its mission statement, the WRC is a sovereign labor rights monitoring organization, whose role is to protect the rights of workers who sew apparel and make products sold in the United States as well as combating sweatshops. The WRC conducts performs detailed investigations; issues the public with reports on factories producing for major U.S. brands; and helps workers at these factories to defend their workplace rights end labor abuses and

Additionally, the WRC is supported by over 175 universities and college affiliates and is mainly focused on the labor practices of factories that manufacture apparel and other goods having university logos. Worker Rights Consortium evaluated that Russell’s judgment to close the plant characterized one of the most serious challenges yet encountered to the enforcement of university codes of conduct. If permitted to stand, the closure would not only illegitimately deprive workers of their livelihoods; it would also send an unambiguous message to workers in Honduras and elsewhere in Central America that there is no realistic point in standing up for their rights under international or domestic law. This would have a considerable frightening effect on the exercise of worker rights throughout the region (Worker Rights Consortium, 2010).

The WRC investigation results of Russell Athletic unjust labor practice in Honduras spurred the countrywide student campaign led by USAS who convinced the administrations of Harvard, New York University, North Carolina, Boston College, Columbia, Stanford, and 89 other universities and colleges to postpone their licensing contract with Russell. As (Greenhouse, 2009) observes, the agreements, permitted Russell to put university logos on fleeces, sweatshirts, and T-shirts. For instance, the local Yale SAS campaign was described by then-Yale students as “the single cause that powerfully united students this year” (academic year 1999-2000), as well as “eager rallies” (Lee, 2001). It is hard to overestimate the role of the USAS protecting the rights of the Honduran workers in Russell Athletic scandal. Their actions integrated open commitments to fighting a problem that did not appear to have any direct relationship to their life.

USAS union also involved students from more than 100 campuses where it lacked local chapters in the anti-Russell movement. The union also contacted students at Western Kentucky University in Bowling Green where Fruit of the Loom is headquartered (Worker Rights Consortium, 2010). The USAS activists had even gone to Congress trying to get more support and build more public and political pressure on Russell Athletic. As a result, sixty-five Congressmen signed the letter on May 13, 2009, addressed to John Holland, the Russell CEO expressing their concern over the labor violations (US Congress, 2009). Additionally, the FLA (Fair Labor Association), a nonprofit organization devoted to ending sweatshop conditions in factories globally also put Russell Athletic on probation for refusing to comply with FLA standards by issuing a statement on June 25, 2009 (Fair Labor Association, 2009). The FLA is one of the influential authorities that administer the fair labor practices in the industry. It characterizes a powerful alliance of nonprofit and industry members. The FLA brings together universities and colleges, socially responsible companies, and civil society organizations in a unique multi-stakeholder initiative to stop sweatshop labor and improve working conditions in factories globally (Fair Labor Association, 2008).

After almost two years of student protest in coordination with the apparel workers, in November of 2009, the Honduran workers’ union fulfilled an agreement with Russell that re-employs all workers, gives compensation for lost wages, recognizes and respects the union and consents to collective bargaining, gives access to the union to all other Russell attire plants in Honduras for union organizing drives in which the company will stay neutral. According to the USAS November 18th, 2009 press-release, this has been an “extraordinary victory for labor rights” (USAS, 2009).

Conclusion

This story appears like another significant lesson to learn to the corporate world in the globalization era. No one can longer expect to carryout business activities in isolation from the rest of the world. The global corporations like Russell Athletic, Walmart, Gap, Nike, and Gap, will have take higher social responsibility in doing business. This paper has looked at how Russell Athletics, one of the United States’ top sportswear companies, along with a student advocacy organizations coalition led by USAS (United Students Against Sweatshops), on November 17, 2009, announced that Russell Athletics Company would re-hire 1,200 workers in Honduras who lost their jobs when it shut down their factory soon after the workers had unionized. Furthermore, this paper has also looked at views of different scholars that have traditionally described the influence of SM activism by looking at four components.

The framing processes are strategic efforts carried out by groups of people to fashion their mutual understandings of the world that justify and motivate collective action. Mobilizing structures is how the movement is organized to draw upon the resources of its supporters and members. Repertoires’ of contention (or actions), are used to carry out the organizational goals and correspond to organizational routines developed over time and they reflect the possible actions that the organization can carry out, given its current resources, the cultural and cognitive biases of the organization and the level of expertise. Opportunity structure is whereby the specific environment in which the social movement is embedded and the other components are used allowing certain options and excluding others from the organization’s range.

In addition, USAS’ mission statement that strives to run strategic student-labor unity campaigns and develops youth leadership with the aim of building sustainable power for working people. USAS defines “sweatshop” broadly and considers all struggles against the everyday abuses of the worldwide economic system to be a fight against sweatshops. Additionally, the WRC (Worker Rights Consortium) conducted a detailed and thorough investigation of Russell’s activities, and finally released a report on November 7, 2008 documenting the violation facts of worker rights by Russell in its Honduras factory including the cases of death threats received by the union leaders. The WRC continued monitoring the flow of the company’s scandal, and issued new updates and reports on this issue throughout 2009 as well as its recommendation for Russell’s management how to intervene the situation and resolve the conflict. As stated in its mission statement, the WRC is a sovereign labor rights monitoring organization, whose role is to protect the rights of workers who sew apparel and make products sold in the United States as well as combating sweatshops. The WRC conducts performs detailed investigations; issues the public with reports on factories producing for major U.S. brands; and helps workers at these factories to defend their workplace rights end labor abuses and

Additionally, the WRC is supported by various universities and college affiliates and is mainly focused on the labor practices of factories that manufacture apparel and other goods having university logos. Worker Rights Consortium evaluated that Russell’s judgment to close the plant characterized one of the most serious challenges yet encountered to the enforcement of university codes of conduct. If permitted to stand, the closure would not only illegitimately deprive workers of their livelihoods; it would also send an unambiguous message to workers in Honduras and elsewhere in Central America that there is no realistic point in standing up for their rights under international or domestic law. This would have a considerable frightening effect on the exercise of worker rights throughout the region. The WRC investigation results of Russell Athletic unjust labor practice in Honduras spurred the countrywide student campaign led by USAS who convinced the administrations of Harvard, New York University, North Carolina, Boston College, Columbia, Stanford, and 89 other universities and colleges to postpone their licensing contract with Russell. Their actions integrated open commitments to fighting a problem that did not appear to have any direct relationship to their life.

USAS union also involved students from more than 100 campuses where it lacked local chapters in the anti-Russell movement. The union also contacted students at Western Kentucky University where Fruit of the Loom is headquartered. The USAS activists had even gone to Congress trying to get more support and build more public and political pressure on Russell Athletic. As a result, sixty-five Congressmen signed the letter on May 13, 2009, addressed to John Holland, the Russell CEO expressing their concern over the labor violations. Additionally, the FLA (Fair Labor Association), a nonprofit organization devoted to ending sweatshop conditions in factories globally also put Russell Athletic on probation for refusing to comply with FLA standards by issuing a statement on June 25, 2009. Lastly, after almost two years of student protest in coordination with the apparel workers, in November of 2009, the Honduran workers’ union fulfilled an agreement with Russell that re-employs all workers, gives compensation for lost wages, recognizes and respects the union and consents to collective bargaining, gives access to the union to all other Russell attire plants in Honduras for union organizing drives in which the company will stay neutral.

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Introduction Russell Athletics one of the United States'. (2019, Nov 21). Retrieved from http://studymoose.com/introduction-russell-athletics-one-of-the-united-states-example-essay

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