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A dignified Shirt

Samuel Evola | Tuesday, November 27, 2012

As the football team’s historic regular season comes to a close, it’s only fitting to look ahead. One of the most visible elements of each season is The Shirt. This year, Notre Dame joined forces with Alta Gracia in fashioning the annual garb of Irish faithful. For the first time, we were not only clad in a fabulous, spirited garment, but did so while supporting the only factory in the world that pays its laborers a living, family wage. The choice of vendor for next year’s Shirt is quickly pressing upon The Shirt committee. I join with workers’ rights advocates everywhere in calling upon the committee to continue partnering with Alta Gracia in creating The Shirt for the 2013 football season and to empower otherwise-exploited garment workers by translating our Catholic character into concrete action.

Catholic Social Teaching holds the dignity of work as a fundamental principle. We’ve incorporated these principles into our own Code of Conduct for vendors, articulating our ownership of and belief in these principles. Yet, many of the brands vying for The Shirt contract are in gross violation of these norms. Adidas and their supplier Gildan, among others, routinely violate fundamental human rights, robbing workers of wages, coercing them into work and out of collective organizing and denying them basic workplace dignities like protection from harassment or the freedom to use the restroom. The Worker Rights Consortium, a Notre Dame affiliate, has catalogued numerous Adidas abuses on their website. Our Catholic character and basic respect for the dignity human beings precludes our patronization of businesses employing such practices. Until Adidas and the like make reparation, the only responsible apparel choice remains Alta Gracia.

Alta Gracia sales and quality have exceeded our expectations in the bookstore, with The Shirt, and with its availability for custom student printing. Extending our partnership with Alta Gracia, standing up for workers’ rights and signaling to the garment industry that moral norms don’t cease to exist at the factory door is our responsibility. May our partnership with Alta Gracia for next year’s Shirt show that we support workers as much as we support our team.

Samuel Evola
O’Neill Hall
Nov. 27