About

USAS is a grassroots organization that develops youth leadership and runs strategic student-labor solidarity campaigns with the goal of building sustainable power for working people.

Our movement challenges the structure of the global economic system that exploits the majority of the world's population. We define "sweatshop" broadly and consider all struggles against the daily abuses of the global economic system to be a struggle against sweatshops.

We envision a world in which society and human relationships are organized cooperatively, not competitively. We struggle towards a world in which all people live in freedom from oppression, in which people are valued as whole human beings rather than exploited in a quest for productivity and profits.

cornerstone campaigns:
garment worker solidarity: supporting justice for garment workers who make collegiate apparel
campus community solidarity: supporting justice for campus workers

organizing philosophy

1. solidarity

We believe that all of our struggles for a just world are intimately connected and that we should act in solidarity to avoid isolation and to build greater collective power. Charity does not challenge power relations, while a solidarity framework unites allies who are fighting on different grounds towards the same goal.

We have chosen the labor movement as a strategic site of struggle because a powerful and dynamic labor movement can ensure greater justice for all people. As former, current, and future workers we recognize the need for a vibrant youth and student movement that actively engages in struggles for just working conditions. We draw upon the historical role of student movements as catalysts for broader social change and strategically leverage the unique roles of students as consumers, workers, and members of the campus community.

We recognize that our role as students in the labor movement is complex and we are committed to critically engaging with that role. In our larger society, we are privileged because the majority of people are denied access to higher education. In our schools, we are marginalized because we are denied a voice in making decisions that affect our entire campus community. We believe we have an important role to play as organizers in developing the leadership and capacity of people in our communities and we believe those most impacted should lead their own struggles.

2. collective liberation

We are committed to collective liberation of all people. In the words of Lilla Watson: “If you have come here to help me, you are wasting your time. But if you have come because your liberation is bound up with mine, then let us work together.” We believe that oppression does not allow anyone to be a full human being whether they materially benefit or suffer under oppressive systems. We struggle against racism, sexism, heterosexism, classism, ableism, and other forms of oppression within our society, within our organizations, and within ourselves.

3. grassroots democracy

We support the self-organization of working people to fight for better working and living conditions in the form of grassroots organizations such as unions, worker centers, collectives, and other democratic organizations.

4. internal democracy

5. diversity of tactics

We seek to use a diversity of tactics that fundamentally challenge oppressive power structures, especially nonviolent direct action and civil disobedience.

6. pluralism

We are a non-dogmatic organization and believe in building a broad-based movement. We believe that a pluralist approach to ideological positions and practices strengthens our movement.

1. all working people deserve a voice in their working and living conditions

2. a strong and dynamic labor movement can bring greater justice for all people

3. colleges and universities must support justice for all workers in their supply chains, from garment workers to food service and housekeepers