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Speaking Out

Meaningful Employment

The Code of Workplace Conduct for Penn Apparel Licensees (Almanac February 10, 2004), and the years of earnest and wide-ranging campus discussion that preceded it is laudable, but I believe the code, and the accompanying campus dialogue has missed an even more basic point on this subject. It is essential that people all over the world have humane and safe working conditions, and living wages. But I believe additionally that the workers who make Penn clothing and trinkets should not be engaged in this labor at all, even under the most progressive conditions of labor and pay.

Instead they should be building infrastructure in their respective countries, constructing housing, raising crops and livestock, improving their own health care and education, creating vibrant arts and culture for themselves, and to share with the world.

I think these are more important uses for the skills of these folks than the creation of low-essential t-shirts and key-chains for an already over-saturated first-world consumer market.

Perhaps we would do better as a University community if we voluntarily limited or discontinued our purchase of these marginal items, and instead developed meaningful jobs for people who would otherwise be making yet more pants, caps and shot glasses with the Penn logo on them.

--Frances G. Hoenigswald, Biddle Law Library, Invoice Clerk

Speaking Out welcomes reader contributions. Short, timely letters on University issues will be accepted by Thursday at noon for the following Tuesday's issue, subject to right-of-reply guidelines. Advance notice of intention to submit is appreciated. --Eds.

 

 


  Almanac, Vol. 50, No. 23, February 24, 2004

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