UNL Student Protests for Workers Rights in the Dominican Republic

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LINCOLN, Neb.-- A University of Nebraska, Lincoln, Political Science and Global Studies student spent the last few weeks of her summer learning about the conditions of workers at a Xerox call center in the Dominican Republic.

Senior, Sarah O'Neill, left knowing she would get a better understanding of what the call center workers go through on a daily basis, but she never expected to become part of a protest last week.

"It's not hard to stand behind a fight for someone who you really believe in what they're fighting for," said O'Neill. "The goal is to hear stories and understand how we can help alongside workers."

O'Neill was one of 15 students nationwide who were selected to go on the study abroad trip with United Students Against Sweatshops.

"The goal is to come back and have workers and students apply pressure on the companies to make changes for workers."

O'Neill said those changes include better hours, pay, safety, and less sexual harassment in the call center's workplace.

But we contacted a spokesperson with Xerox who says they've investigated these allegations in the past, and while they're working on getting 10/11 News the details, they do take these accusations very seriously.

"In America we would never accept these kinds of working conditions," said O'Neill. "And there's no way anyone in the world should have to."

Now, O'Neill has made it her chosen path to protect workers' rights.

"I've been really interested in international human rights law," she said. "And now going on this trip I'm more interested in workers rights too. So I would love to be the lawyer who gets to step in and take these companies to court for the people."

O'Neill will graduate next spring and pursue law school, and she's not just chasing her dreams in other countries, but right here at home. Her next step is to get UNL to sign a workers rights consortium, which would release factory information about the clothes and books sold to students on campus.