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March 09, 2004 - Image 4

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The Michigan Daily, 2004-03-09

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4 - The Michigan Daily - Tuesday, March 9, 2004


UVUe umn ANN ARBOR, MI 48109

SINCE 1890

Editor in Chief
Editorial Page Editor

Unless otherwise noted, unsigned editorials reflect the opinion of the majority of
the Daily's editorial board. All other articles, letters and cartoons do not
necessarily reflect the opinion of The Michigan Daily.

"Read what it
says, and you will
see the vision the
Iraqi people have
for themselves. And
let there be no
doubt in anyone's
minds that it is a
bright future."
- Secretary of State Colin Powell,
commenting on the signing of the interim
Iraqi constitution, as reported
by The Associated Press.

toh 1 1TSIM ORL I~
3.CA:L 4& NAI! H\4



cdaig@a ufwioh.eck

MOE wIth K tmos w le V~

Full Disclosure: opening the books on wages


eople in the country
and on this campus
are obsessed with
cost and price and wages.
We bemoan our piddling
internship salaries. We
gripe about the cost of
football tickets and the
hike in the price of text-
books. We look at rising
tuition bills and then wonder why University
President Mary Sue Coleman made $475,000
last year. When we apply for jobs, the
thought is always in our heads: "Let's cut to
the chase - how much will I get paid?"
Well, let me suggest another thing we should
wonder about: the wages of the factory work-
ers who make the University-licensed apparel
that we all wear. As I mentioned above, we
know Coleman makes $475,000. We know
Nike Chairman, President and CEO Phil
Knight made $2.88 million last year. What
we don't know is how much Knight pays his
workers (safe guess: not enough). We don't
know, and in fact, no one outside of Nike
really knows. It is a mystery to the world, and
it is of vital importance that we find out.
The defenders of capitalism make grand
claims that free-market forces will raise up
all ships and that an unfettered market will
create social justice. Informed consumers are
necessary for the fulfillment of this promise.
The logic of social justice via capitalism is
that those buying goods make intelligent
choices and reward those companies whose
practices they support with their business,
and punish those companies they do not by
not buying their products. Clearly price is a
major factor, but it cannot be the only one.
Goods made using slavery would cost less,

but hopefully consumers would not frequent
such a business, taking their money to other
stores with higher prices but with acceptable
business practices.
This idea is all well and good in theory.
Companies with good labor practices
should be rewarded, and those who use
slaves in sweatshops should be punished.
Unfortunately, as it stands today consumers
are not informed shoppers and cannot know
any company's labor practices. Some are
uninformed out of their own desire to
remain ignorant and not have to face the
fact that their apparel was likely made in a
sweatshop. Enlightened shoppers who
search for companies whose practices
deserve support, are also destined to igno-
rance. These shoppers too are largely igno-
rant, not by choice, but because
corporations do not reveal important infor-
mation about their products.
There is hope; United Students Against
Sweatshops, since 1998, has united universi-
ties across the nation with workers in apparel
factories to help ensure that corporations are
held accountable for their actions. It is
because of USAS and their affiliate on our
campus, Students Organizing for Labor and
Economic Equality, that university adminis-
trators have enacted codes of conduct that set
out guidelines for how corporations must
behave if they want to use university logos.
On our campus, SOLE staged a 51-hour sit-
in in then-President Lee Bollinger's office in
1999 to force him to sign a code of conduct.
In 2000, SOLE again forced the University to
act by getting it to join the Worker's Rights
Consortium, a nonprofit organization that
inspects and issues reports on the working
conditions in factories that make collegiate

These codes and watchdog organizations
already have improved the lives of workers
around the globe, as pressure from campuses
across the nation forced apparel makers like
Nike to recognize unions in third-world
sweatshops. Their success has not come easi-
ly, however - up until recently, apparel mak-
ers were unwilling to even disclose where
their factories were. As far as Nike and other
apparel manufactures were willing to admit,
their clothes miraculously showed up pre-
sewn on the racks at Foot Locker. That little
tag on the back of the shirts may have said
China, but that's as much information as any-
one was likely to get.
In partnership with a coalition of schools
under the USAS banner, including the uni-
versities of Wisconsin and Indiana and West-
ern Michigan University, SOLE is readying a
campaign for wage disclosure that would
make companies that want to use our logo
reveal how much they pay their workers or
face losing our business. Once a database of
worker pay levels across the globe is estab-
lished, corporations can be held to local mini-
mum-wage laws and it will be easier for
groups like the WRC to enforce established
laws against unfair labor practices.
Our corporations cannot have it both
ways. If they want international reputations,
worldwide logo recognition and brand
appeal, they need to open up their books
and show consumers they are worth it. If
capitalism is to ever begin to fulfill its
promise of a better world, we need
informed consumers today.

Piskor can be reached at



Exercising democracy
protects rights
This letter is in response to a column written
by Daniel Adams (The tyranny of the majority,
03/03/04). I always find it preposterous when
people start off an article or, opinion with a little
lie to get their readers' attention. This article
doesn't seem to accept the belief in the democ-
racy it claims to believe in, but rather a country
under the rule of activist judges as the lawmak-
ing body of our country. To others in main-
stream America, we still feel the "people rule."
After all, isn't this ideal the true meaning of our
democracy? It is disturbing to me to know that
people can make claims such as the one made in
the article about trusting judges. Why then do
the people elect the legislature? It is quite simple
actually "to carry out the wishes of the people in
making laws." Some people are so blinded by
their hatred for people like myself who stand up
and defend our principles by exercising our
rights under the Constitution that they make
claims that "direct democracy has crept back
into the picture." When did it ever leave? It is
not only the right of the people to dictate what
happens in our government, but a duty to act to
prevent giving constitutional rights to a panel of
appointed judges. Then again, some people
don't understand the difference between
appointment and election. Let me explain it so
you understand: The people rule by electing leg-
islators to make the laws. The judges in most
cases are appointed by the people we elect not
to make new laws, but rather to knock down
unconstitutional laws. Please, everybody feel
free to give up your rights anyway or anytime
you see fit, but don't for one second criticize the
rights of others to exercise theirs.
LSA sophomore
Campus Coordinator
Michigan Civil Rights Initiative
Reader: Graduates
should not feel
entitled to jobs
After reading the past few articles from the

tle check box on the University's application
that stated, "Check here for great job upon grad-
uation" because such a guarantee can never be
made - plus, with the University's recent histo-
ry, I think that application has caused enough
trouble for one decade. Every. student's job in
college is to work to the best of his or her abili-
ties, try to network and gain experience and just
keep his or her head up when it comes to
employment upon graduation. To say that you
don't want to "lower" yourself to a "shitty job"
because of your education is to ignore the grow-
ing pains that everyone must go through to be
successful. Plus, rarely is your first job the one
you keep for a sustained amount of time, and
usually the final career one follows deviates
from the concentration one had in school. So to
the graduating seniors, I say don't lose hope in
the job search, but also display a good sense of
humility. Most of you are 20-something now,
and you'll work well into your 50s and 60s, so if
it takes you a few extra months to start on that
trail, you probably won't begrudge it.
Department changes for
AP credit based on
content differences
I'm writing in response to an article about
the History Department's policy on Advanced
Placement credits (Students look to review AP
credit policies, 03/05/04). The article misrepre-
sents the department's position, which I
explained to reporter Nura Sediqe in a phone
conversation: Our decision to no longer grant
AP credit for specific history courses was not
based on the opinion that high school AP class-
es "do not match the rigor of the University's
classes," as Sediqe writes, but rather on our
judgment that the content of AP history courses
is not substantially the same as that offered in
our survey courses. We respect both the rigor
and the strong intellectual content of high
school AP history courses; they are very
demanding classes and deserve the general uni-
versity credit that is offered to those students
who receive a high score on the AP test.
History professor

group, and they certainly are not representa-
tive of each individual within it.
Many members of YAF agree wholeheart-
edly with letter writers John Wooster (Public
opinion does not justify a constitutional mar-
riage amendment, 03/050/4) and Max Ross
(Reader: Where is the threat in gay mar-
riage?, 03/05/04). Ross's opinion of the
majority's view on gay marriage -"It does-
n't bother me, so who cares if they get mar-
ried"- is the view of many of our members.
LSA sophomore
YAF member
Engineering freshman
Campus director YAF
'U' should serve as
training ground for
faculty, administrators
I disagree with the Daily's position that the
University should not hire executive candi-
dates "beckoned by the Ivy League" (The Earl
of Emory, 03/08/04). The reality of the higher
education hiring market is that Ivy League
schools such as Columbia and Cornell univer-
sities or private schools with mega-endow-
ments such as Emory will always be viewed as
preeminent destinations by university adminis-
trators of promise. Money and prestige, two
factors that most everyone's job criteria com-
prise, are abundant on the aforementioned
campuses, and while the Daily's suggestion to
increase administrator salaries is appealing, it
is also simplistic. An arms race with the Ivies
and the Emorys of the world would be ill-
advised - if not impossible - particularly
while the University faces what seems like a
perpetual budget crisis. Considering the lack
of prestige held by the University relative to a
school like Columbia, the University would
seemingly have to overpay its administrators
to compensate.
The University should instead seek to
attract the top administrative talent on the
market, irrespective of a particular candi-
date's career ambitions. While I cannot dis-
count the benefits inherent in a lengthy



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