"As universities become a bigger part of the economy, having a partnership with the premier student labor group can only be helpful for workers abroad and in the U.S.," said Christian Sweeney, deputy director of the AFL-CIO's organizing department. [...]USAS has pressured colleges and universities to have disclosure of factories where school-branded apparel is manufactured, with codes of conduct and independent monitoring. It has also participated in living wage and unionization campaigns on college campuses, helping to win significant increases in some cases. In addition to that leverage that USAS brings to labor issues at the 150 campuses where it has groups, it's in the AFL-CIO's interest to build relationships with young people at the beginning of their working lives, to help develop activists and organizers on campus who will then carry those skills and commitments as they graduate and scatter into workplaces across the country. USAS, meanwhile, gains shared expertise and perhaps material support.
"It's a pretty natural and obvious partnership," said Lingran Kong, a member of USAS' coordinating committee and a student at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. "USAS works for justice causes, and the way we achieve those is putting student and worker power into practice. We've been working with the AFL-CIO for many years now. We get along splendidly."
As the AFL-CIO looks for new allies outside of unions, it's entering a partnership that makes a whole lot of sense—with the student group United Students Against Sweatshops. The new partnership formalizes and expands on collaboration that has taken place on many individual campaigns: