CHICAGO-Hundreds of students from across the country gathered here on Aug. 2-5 for the second annual national conference of the United Students Against Sweatshops (USAS). The conference discussed ways of continuing student involvement in the fight for workers’ justice, both here and abroad.
The conference began with a mobilization in support of local workers. Students joined workers at the picket line of striking Teamsters who are employed at V&V Supremo Foods on the city’s south side. The largely immigrant workers are organized into Local 703 and have been on strike for union recognition. Hundreds of students and workers chanted slogans in support of workers in the face of company-hired thugs who failed to intimidate the picket line.
This scene highlighted the growing alliance of workers and students in advancing the interests of working people. The conference discussed students’ work in solidarity with striking workers at the New Era apparel company and solidarity efforts with organizing hotel, garment, laundry, and other workers.
Students, while lacking the social power to win the fight for workers’ rights by themselves, can and have played key roles in assisting working-class struggles. The USAS conference was a positive step in this unfolding alliance. – DAVID BERNT