Penn State United Students Against Sweatshops joined forces with Aslam Hidayat and Heni to speak out against injustices committed by an Adidas supplier manufacturer against former employees, Tuesday night.
"We are here to ask for your solidarity, with us and with USAS, in fighting for our rights against Adidas," Heni, a former Indonesian sweatshop worker, said as translated by Rebecca Gluckstein.
Heni and Hidayat, a former Indonesian sweatshop worker, told the audience about the hardships they faced after losing their jobs at PT Kizone, an Indonesian sportswear manufacturer, without receiving legally owed severance pay. When PT Kizone closed, Heni and her husband couldn't afford their children's school fees and food to feed their family. Both Heni and Hidayats families were forced to move to one room living arrangements because they could no longer afford the homes they lived in.
"Adidas distributed vouchers in replacement of our severance pay," Hidayat said as translated by Gluckstein.
Hidayat said former PT Kizone employees refused vouchers because they saw it as a method of avoidance by Adidas and because they did not suffice in paying for necessities including housing and school costs.
Since the factory closed Heni, Hyadat and their fellow employees have protested outside the German and English embassy, several Adidas factories and Indonesian government offices.
Penn State USAS member Lili Hadsell said Adidas is breaking Indonesian laws and violating Penn State's code of conduct by refusing to pay former PT Kizone employees.
Both Henu and Hyadat asked Penn State to help in their fight for justice by asking students to request that President Rodney Erickson cut Penn State's contract with Adidas until it pays former PT Kizone employees their owed severance.
Following the worker speak out, USAS held a vigil on the lawn of Old Main to pray for victims of unjust workplace practices similar to the incident with PT Kizone employees.
Hadsell (junior- women studies) said Penn State students have the ability to change these global injustices and help workers around the world fight for their rights.
Heni and Hidayat experienced poor working conditions while working at PT Kizone and were disrespected by management on a regular basis. Hidayat said he was defending his fellow workers rights to request higher wages in 2009 and in response to his request PT Kizone managers sent him to jail for four months in 2010.
"We would like adidas to take responsibility for their actions and to recognize the work we did for them," Heni said as translated by Gluckstein.
PT Kizone went bankrupt in 2011 leaving 2,800 workers without a job and severance pay. Adidas, Nike and the Dallas Cowboys were all buyers from PT Kizone. While Nike and the Dallas Cowboys have paid legally owed severance to former PT Kizone employees, Adidas refused to pay the workers, Garret Strain, USAS national organizer, said.
Penn State USAS will meet next Tuesday at 11 a.m. outside Old Main to bring a letter to Rodney Erickson requesting Penn State cut its contract with Adidas.