Thursday, November 6, 2014

Garment industry is topic of next Under-Told Stories Forum Nov. 12

The next Under-Told Stories Project Forum asks the question, “Is What You’re Wearing Enslaving or Liberating?” A panel of speakers will conduct a public discussion about issues related to the garment industry Wednesday, Nov. 12, at the Winona Campus.

The event’s keynote speaker is Joe Bozich, CEO of Knights Apparel, who is convinced his Alta Gracia collegiate sportswear subsidiary can compete with Adidas and Nike while providing a living wage to the Dominican workers who make the clothes.

Bozich has more than 20 years of manufacturing, sourcing, marketing, and operations experience. He founded Knights Apparel in 2001, and by 2009 Knights Apparel became the largest supplier of college apparel in the United States. Knights Apparel also holds exclusive rights with the NHL. Bozich was named Ernst & Young’s 2005 Entrepreneur of the Year for the Illinois Region and in 2010 the Huffington Post nominated him as one of the top 100 Game Changers in the nation.

Participants will be asked to think about these questions:

Bozich pays Alta Gracia garment workers 3.5 times the legal minimum wage. What’s your price point for fairness?
In Bangladesh, 4 million people are employed in the garment industry, many in unsafe conditions with poverty-level pay. Are “non-living wages” better than the alternative?
From “fair trade” to “green washing,” can consumers be persuaded to make socially responsible choices?

The moderator will be Fred de Sam Lazaro, who directs the Under-Told Stories Project at Saint Mary’s—a program that combines international journalism and teaching—and is a senior distinguished fellow at the university’s Hendrickson Institute for Ethical Leadership. He has served as a correspondent for PBS NewsHour since 1985 and is a regular contributor to Religion and Ethics Newsweekly on PBS.

Panelists will also include:

• Chandu Valluri, assistant professor of marketing at Saint Mary’s. Valluri has advised CEOs and senior business leaders in the textile, information communication technology, and food and beverage industries, both domestically and internationally.

• Nikki See, producer and editor, Under-Told Stories Project. See covers a variety of global issues for PBS, including those in the apparel trade and human rights. See brings the rare perspective of one who has spent time amid the garment racks in Cambodian and Bangladeshi factories, as well as those of the fashion retailers she browses for her own consumption.

This event—free and open to the public—is planned for 7 to 8:30 p.m. in the Page Theatre. (The same event will be held 6 to 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 11, at Saint Mary’s Twin Cities Campus.)

This event is made possible by the Under-Told Stories Project as seen on the PBS NewsHour, and is sponsored by the Hendrickson Institute for Ethical Leadership at Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota.