Sarah Kowaleski was crafted and assembled by a machinist from “Hardware City,” New Britain, CT. While a student at the University of Connecticut, she was impacted by the global injustice of international garment workers, largely women her age, facing extreme exploitation making her college logos and gear. While the university built its image on its champion women’s basketball team, Sarah founded a student group to to pressure the university to hold its licensees, major brands such as Nike, accountable to higher standards. With pressure, the university created a Fair Trade section of the student co-op.
Shipped across the country to Portland, Phil Knight’s backyard, Sarah continued international solidarity efforts against multinational corporations as part of Portland Jobs with Justice’s Global Justice Committee. As a recession-era graduate, she channeled her experience as a misclassified, low-wage public sector worker in a role as spokesperson, steering committee member, and facilitator for 15 Now PDX. Riding a wave of support from unions, labor-community organizations such as Jobs with Justice, and social movements like the Fight for $15, she helped successfully organize part time Recreation workers who work for the City of Portland into better wages and benefits as union members of Laborers Local 483, of which Sarah is still member today.