Adidas Worker Tour Part II: Talk + Vigil

At 6:30pm, members of the Brown Take Adidas Down coalition and others
joined Yudo and Asmiati once again for a talk, “Voices from the
Sweatshop Floor,” in Metcalf Auditorium. In spite of competing with
complimentary dinner and inflatable castles on the Main Green in
preparation for Spring Weekend, the event drew at least 40 people,
including members of our ally group MEChA, who came in full swag.

After a brief description of the badidas campaign from SLA members
Stoni Thompson and Mariela Martinez, the workers took their turn to
describe their experiences and their fight for dignity. Speaking in
more depth than at the noon meeting, Asmiati talked about her eighteen
years working at PT Kizone, and the subsequent hardships of struggling
to support her children alone following the factory closure. When the
money ran out, she explained, she had no choice but to send her
children away to live with their grandparents. Soon, she didn’t even
have money to visit them. After roughly two years and a worker tour
that has taken her halfway around the world, she has still been unable
to see her children. When Adidas pays up, she says that the first
thing she will do is buy a ticket to visit them.

Yudo spoke more in depth about the experience of being a union
organizer at PT Kizone in spite of intimidation to the point of death
threats. Long before the factory closed, workers had been subject to
increasingly humiliating treatment, a fact which he is convinced
companies like Adidas were aware. “Or if they weren’t aware,” he
added, “what was the purpose of the auditors they were constantly
sending to the factory?” Yudo, however, is not the type who sits
quietly and waits for things to happen. When the workers found that
management had begun to lock them in to the factory, he drove his
motorcycle into the gate until the lock broke. Since the factory
closure he has also frequently been unable to make ends meet. He has
had to move his family a series of times to ever cheaper apartments,
and is running out of people to borrow money from. None of this has
managed to slow down his organizing.

Finally, the two spoke about visiting Adidas America headquarters in
Portland, OR. One security guard told Yudo and Asmiati that they were
trespassing, and that they had no right to be there if they hadn’t
been given an appointment. Asmiati responded: “I am not here to ask
for an appointment. I am here to collect on a promise–an
appointment–that was already made by Adidas to pay what I have
earned!”

Immediately following the talk, about 30 people walked directly to
President Paxson’s house on Power St (yup, that’s what it’s called)
for a candlelight vigil in solidarity with the workers of PT Kizone.
After about 20 minutes of songs, prayers, and thoughtful testimony,
the President herself arrived, and was gracious enough to join the
circle and speak with the workers, whom she’d previously declined to
meet. After a brief introduction and asking the workers a smattering
awkward, irrelevant questions (“Do you have a family?”) Paxson
described the University as being fully attentive to the matter and
very close to reaching some kind of resolution on the issue. Vigil
attendees asked numerous pointed questions about Brown’s timid
response. After about five minutes of conversation, she continued
inside while the vigil members sang a chorus of “Which Side Are You
On?”

Soon afterward, the Brown police told us to leave, which we did to a
chorus of “Solidarity Forever.” In short it was a beautiful evening to
end an exciting, somewhat frustrating day of action.

ImageImage

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s