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The Daily Cardinal Est. 1892
Friday, May 27, 2022
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Protesters joined the Student Labor Action Coalition on its march Friday to protest Chancellor David Ward’s decision to enter mediation with adidas over labor disputes.

Hundreds protest mediation with adidas

Hundreds of students and members of the Student Labor Action Coalition protested Chancellor David Ward's decision to enter a mediation period with adidas over allegations that it owes former Indonesian workers $1.8 million in severance pay.

About 250 students, many visiting from across the country for the United Students Against Sweatshops' 15th anniversary conference, carried signs and chanted on Bascom Hill Friday to demonstrate their frustration over Ward's refusal to begin cutting ties with adidas.

"I'm here today with students all across the country to demand that Chancellor Ward will take a stand and side with students rather than siding with billionaire corporation, like adidas," USAS organizer Tiffany Chang said.

After listening to speeches on Bascom Hill, the students marched into Ward's office with a large paper roll that represented a giant can of pepper spray. The model was a reference to anti-sweatshop protests in 2000, when police pepper sprayed protesters during a five-day anti-sweatshop sit-in of Bascom Hall during Ward's first term as chancellor.

Additionally, protestors marched to the Capitol, where they heard speeches about union workers' rights to celebrate the anniversary of the collective bargaining protests.

Chang said she is frustrated with Ward's decision to participate in private meetings with adidas, which could take up to 60 days before he will decide to cut ties with the company. If he chooses to cut ties, adidas will have 90 days to fix the situation or the contract will be terminated.

"I think in light of Adidas' clear disrespect and disregard of the UW-Madison's code of conduct, it's appalling that the chancellor is still trying to stall in this decision," Chang said.

Ward was visiting his mother in England for her 100th birthday and not present Friday, according to SLAC member John Perkins.

Perkins said he believes money is a factor in Ward's mediation choice, which is different from UW-Madison's previous company dismissals because of labor-violations. In addition to Badger-logo clothing, adidas provides athletics equipment and makes the company's contract worth 50 times more.

"Money's going to play a role in his decision, but it shouldn't. The lives of these workers matter more," he said.

University Communications Director Amy Toburen said mediation does not preclude the university parting ways with adidas.

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