Actions By The University Of Michigan to Combat Sweatshop Conditions in The Manufacture of Licensed Apparel

October 2006 The Worker’s Rights Consortium modifies aspects of the Designated Suppliers Program in response to some issues raised by universities and licensees. Example: Requirement that factories be unionized is removed. U-M’s Committee on Labor Standards and Human Rights continues to participate as an invited observer in the DSP planning meetings and to review the revised DSP proposal.
May 2, 2006 President Coleman accepts the recommendation of the Committee on Labor Standards and Human Rights that U-M not endorse the Designates Supplier Program and charges the committee to continue to monitor DSP developments and work on ways to make U-M’s Code of Conduct more effective. The Committee begins work on a plan to achieve greater compliance with U-M’s Code of Conduct.
April 2006 The Committee on Labor Standards and Human Rights recommends that the U-M not endorse theDesignated Supplier Program proposal because of concerns about its proposed structure, potential unintended consequences and practicality.
October 2005 Students Organized for Labor and Economic Equality (SOLE) introduces the Designated Supplier Program proposal, developed by United Students Against Sweatshops, to the Committee on Labor Standards and Human Rights for consideration. Committee members raise a number of concerns about the proposal, including its general direction, feasibility, the capacity of the Workers Rights Consortium to monitor factories and arbitrate prices, and whether the DSP proposal might violate anti-trust laws. The committee continues to review the proposal at meetings during the 2005-06 academic year.
March 2004 CLSHR issues Procedural Guidelines for Acting on Complaints (.pdf) it receives.
February 2004 Responding to a request from students that U-M add language requiring wage disclosure to its licensee code of conduct, the CLSHR sent recommendations to President Mary Sue Coleman. In her response, President Coleman affirmed the importance of transparent collection of accurate and verifiable wage data from licensees and charged the Committee with developing comprehensive well documented recommendations for evaluating non-compliance with the compensation clause of the code of conduct.
January 2004 The University renews its licensing agreement with Lands’ End, having received evidence from theWRC and FLA that the company was addressing freedom of association complaints at the Primo plant, El Salvador.
CLSHR recommends that the University postpone renewal of its licensing agreement with Lands’ End Inc. until they provide sufficient evidence that concerns regarding freedom of association at Primo plant, El Salvador are satisfactorily addressed. The agreement renewal is postponed.
November 2003 CLSHR chair sends letter S. Harlow letter of 11/5/03 to Lands’ End Inc. requesting they respond to complaints of union discrimination at the Primo plant in El Salvador where licensed apparel is manufactured for Lands’ End.
November 2002 Having acted to resolve issues that concerned the U-M and other licensees, and having cooperated with the WRC in its efforts to document these improvements, the Committee on Labor Standards and Human Rights recommended that the University resume its licensing relationship with the New Era Cap Company.
April 2002 After having earlier recommended that the University not renew its contract with the New Era Cap Company because of its failure to respond adequately to allegations violations of labor standards, the Committee on Labor Standards and Human Rights recommended that the University immediately take steps to end its licensing relationship altogether. The Committee further recommended that reinstatement or renewal of the license not be considered unless New Era adequately demonstrates that it is in conformance with the University’s code of conduct.
February 2002 The Committee on Labor Standards and Human Rights recommended that the University add language to our licensing agreements that establishes procedures for investigating violations of labor standards and for termination of contracts based on such violations. This language was subsequently incorporated into the standard contract of the Collegiate Licensing Company.
September 2001 The Committee on Labor Standards and Human Rights, through the Collegiate Licensing Company, requested that the New Era Cap Company respond specifically to allegations of violations of labor standards. New Era responded initially with a letter contending that they are not in violation of labor standards, but without addressing the specifics of a preliminary report by the Workers Rights Consortium.
February 2001 On the recommendation of the Committee on Labor Standards and Human Rights, the University, through the Collegiate Licensing Company, informed all licensees that they will be expected to participate in the monitoring program of the FLA as a condition of continuing their licensing agreement.
A new code of conduct that sets labor standards for the manufacture of licensed products is adopted.
January 2001 The University expresses its concerns in a letter to the Nike Corporation about reported labor conflict at the Kukdong factory in Mexico, where some Nike apparel with U-M logos is manufactured. Background on this situation is contained in an article from the March 10 issue of the Chronicle for Higher Education.
U-M announces a new seven-year agreement with Nike Corporation that includes the Collegiate Licensing Company (CLC) code of conduct.
September 2000 Standing Committee on Labor Standards and Human Rights appointed.
August 2000 Report of Advisory Committee on Labor Standards and Human Rights released.
April 2000 U-M issued statement regarding negotiations with Nike and announced transfer of gift funds to athletic department as show of support.
U-M faculty and staff representatives, as well as students, attended the Workers Rights Consortium founding conference in New York City and agreed to participate in continuing activities of the organization.
February 2000 President Lee Bollinger announced that the University “will conditionally join with the Workers Rights Consortium in order to try to work toward a fair and just monitoring system and governance structure that will address our principles and will show sensitivity towards licensee concerns.”
Advisory Committee on Labor Standards and Human Rights, with the assistance of the CLC, began collecting disclosure information from U-M’s licensees.
January 2000 The Advisory Committee submitted a second interim report to President Bollinger on Jan. 27.
The Advisory Committee held a public forum on January 18 at which a code of conduct drafted by the Committee was distributed for discussion.
December 1999 The CLC, on behalf of the U-M and six other client institutions, formally notified licensees thatspecific information on manufacturing sites would be required by January 1, 2000.
November 1999 The Advisory Committee submitted an interim report to President Bollinger on Nov. 18.
Several Advisory Committee members attended a national conference on the living wage held at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
The Advisory Committee held a public forum to discuss approaches to ensuring compliance with a U-M code of conduct. Panelists included representatives from United Students Against Sweatshops (USAS), the International Labor Rights FundKPMG (a multi-national accounting firm) and Press for Change.
October 1999 A member of the Advisory Committee attended a meeting organized by the Collegiate Industry Initiative for Responsible Manufacturing to become acquainted with their efforts.
Two members of the Advisory Committee met with representatives from the University of Illinois and Purdue University to discuss issues related to codes of conduct and labor standards.
U-M joined four other universities (Harvard, Ohio State, Notre Dame and the University of California) in the Independent Universities Initiative. This project, headed up by Business for Social Responsibility, will study apparel production in seven countries and carry out pilot monitoring studies. The information produced by these studies will be used by the participating institutions in formulating their own licensee codes of conduct.
August 1999 The University became a member of the Fair Labor Association.
July 1999 U-M sent a letter to all of its licensees requiring public disclosure of manufacturing sites by January 1, 2000.
June 1999 The Advisory Committee chair attended, as an observer, the inaugural meeting of the University Advisory Council of the Fair Labor Association(FLA).
President Bollinger appointed a Advisory Committee on Labor Standards and Human Rights. The Committee includes faculty, students and staff, chaired by John Chamberlin, professor of Public Policy. The committee began meeting regularly in September and now meets weekly.
April–May 1999 U-M participated in a series of four discussions with peer institutions on the full range of related issues in Washington, D.C. (two), at Harvard University and the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
March 1999–
the present
The U-M, through the Office of General Counsel, has continuously worked closely with members ofStudents Organizing for Labor and Economic Equality (SOLE) on all related issues.
March 1999 President Bollinger issued an Anti-Sweatshop/Human Rights Policy which included a statement of principles for a licensee code of conduct, including issues of implementation, disclosure of licensee manufacturing sites, disclosure of licensee manufacturing sites wages, women’s rights and methods of ensuring compliance.
January 1999 U-M officially participated in a series of discussions with the White House and the U.S. Department of Labor on all related issues.
Winter 1997/98 U-M participated with thirteen other universities on a task force facilitated by the Collegiate Licensing Company in drafting a licensee code of conduct.

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