Cut the Russell contract, now

The student march against Russell Athletics on Friday clearly demonstrated that they are appalled at what Russell has done in Honduras. The allegations against Russell claim that the company shut down a factory after workers tried to unionize for fair wages and better working conditions. Russell has violated these workersâÄô rights, as well as the University of MinnesotaâÄôs Code of Conduct. After witnessing the studentsâÄô swift response to RussellâÄôs closing of the factory and the UniversityâÄôs sluggish reaction, I cannot help but be outraged by how the University is tolerating RussellâÄôs blatant violations of not only the UniversityâÄôs code of conduct but these workersâÄô basic human rights. The right to organize and associate is inalienable and something that every human being should have, whether in a union or not. This was made clear after hearing two of the former workers tell their personal stories at the Bell Museum of Natural History two weeks ago. I was astonished that the University did not sever this contract when the violations were first brought to their attention. These workers are not organizing to bully Russell into paying them exorbitant salaries or giving them paid holidays. They are simply asking the company for a 3-cent increase in their salaries from $60.00 to $60.03 per week. This three cent increase would allow workers to send their kids to school, put food on their tables, and have hopes of improving their familyâÄôs future. I urge those University officials who are debating the Russell case this week to take action against a company that debases the fundamental principles taught at this institute of higher education. Eric Lemke University of Minnesota-Duluth student