I'm writing to spread the word about a really awesome conference that I'm helping to plan. It's the national United Students Against Sweatshops conference in Knoxville, Tennessee this February 19-21. I'm hoping you all can forward information about this to students and youth you know, whether from VA or elsewhere, especially folks at state schools and community colleges. We're not picky about whether folks are currently taking classes just looking for young folks that are invested in how decision making happens at colleges and universities--read on for more!
There's an official announcement below, but first I wanted to say a little about the organization and and why I think this conference will be a great opportunity for student organizers and activists (those folks new to the movement as well as those with a little more experience!).
USAS is a 12-years-old nation-wide network of students organizers working in solidarity with worker movements, domestically and internationally. Organizations' structures and processes can always be improved, and USAS has made some really important changes over the last few years. As we are now, USAS is the most accessible and accountable student-led organization that I've encountered, and is truly committed to empowering students, especially students from marginalized communities, to do democratic, grassroots organizing. You can read about our leadership and organizing philosophy here: http://usas.org/about-us/.
USAS supports students who work with workers on their campuses and communities on struggles such as living wage campaigns and fights for union recognition. Recently, many schools have taken on a campaign against the tuition hikes for students and pay cuts for workers that have characterized nationwide university budget cuts. USAS also supports campaigns in solidarity with workers internationally--this usually takes the shape of campaigns to change the working conditions in the factories that make collegiate apparel. You can read about our most recent victory concerning Russell Athletic and workers in Honduras here: http://usas.org/2009/11/17/we-won-honduran-union-signs-historic-agreement-with-russell/.
The University of Tennessee Knoxville group has been working with the campus worker's union in an effort to get a living wage for 10 years, and is now organizing with an impressive coalition of students, workers, and community organizations all over the state to fight budget cuts that have made higher education unceasingly less accessible to working class students and students of color. The conference will emphasize this amazing work and will bring in facilitators from the community to share their experiences.
If you have any questions or want more information, please let me know! If you can forward the announcement and/or agenda below to any people or organizations who might be interested, that would be much appreciated :)
There are several carpools leaving from VA and travel scholarships are available. If you know of any individuals who you think would be especially interested, feel free to give them my contact information (email:firstname.lastname@example.org phone:703-595-6271).
Have you registered yet for the 2010 USAS National Conference?
This year, it's happening February 19-21 at the University of Tennessee-Knoxville, a hotbed of organizing against education budget cuts. Across the country, budget cuts are squeezing workers and students at the hands of overpaid college administrators and lawmakers with all the wrong priorities.
You can view the agenda here: http://usas.org/2010/01/25/2010-national-conference-agenda/
Highlights of the weekend will include:
USAS and United Campus Workers Rally to Save Higher Education!
Hundreds of union members and students will rally to demand that the University of Tennessee and state politicians save higher education and respect the rights of working people:
Larry Cohen, President of the Communication Workers of America, will address the economic crisis and how it's affecting workers across the country.
Campus workers and students will give testimony about how the budget cuts are affecting their lives.
The action will be organized by United Campus Workers, the union representing university employees, and the local USAS affiliate Progressive Student Alliance.
Honduran Unionists Share Their Victory Story
Leaders of the Honduran union SITRAJERZEESH will discuss what it's been like in Choloma since coming to an agreement with Russell Athletic after their historic campaign with USAS: http://usas.org/2009/11/17/we-won-honduran-union-signs-historic-agreement-with-russell/
As always, the conference will be THE spot to connect with people doing amazing student & worker organizing across the country.
If you want to be a part of this historic conference, make sure you register by February 12. Assistance is available for people who need help with travel expenses, but you have to register by February 5! Also see our Tips for Local Fundraising to help you get to the conference.
If you are coming from Virginia, please contact Cherie Seise email@example.com, 703-595-6271 or KB Brower firstname.lastname@example.org 610-308-7161 for information on carpooling.
See you in Tennessee!