In the wee hours of Friday morning, a combination of six University officials and students will board a plane bound for New York, where they’ll spend a day trying to make sense of an organization that has made commonplace the use of sit-ins, hunger strikes and demonstrations on campuses nationwide.
This weekend marks the founding conference of the Worker Rights Consortium, a student-founded sweatshop-monitoring group designed to eliminate the use of unfair labor practices in the production of collegiate apparel.
Four members of the University’s Licensee Labor Practices Task Force and one representative apiece from the Minnesota Student Association and the Graduate and Professional Students Association will be on hand to help orchestrate the consortium’s official inception.
WRC spokeswoman Maria Roeper said the charter meeting will focus primarily on the election of the WRC’s governing board, a 12-member body that will ultimately hire the group’s executive director.
Some say that Nike’s recent contractual disagreement with Brown University, a founding WRC school, over prospective adherence to the consortium’s code of conduct has created a backdrop of tension for this weekend’s proceedings.
But task force member and conference attendee Rana Kasich said Nike won’t disrupt WRC momentum.
“The decision was a huge public relations mistake. It shows they have something to hide,” Kasich said. “I think once we’re able to discuss the whole Nike situation, people will realize it’s all power play and they won’t drop any of the huge contracts.”

Travis Reed welcomes comments at [email protected]