Anti-Sweatshop Advisory Committee Meeting
December 9, 2004
Coca-Cola Contract . IU Purchasing contract manager Michael Keen spoke to us about the university’s exclusive contract with Coca-Cola. We were concerned due to reports of widespread workers’ rights violations at Coke bottling plants in Columbia, and we wanted to know if there was any way for IU to put pressure on Coke to allow investigation of these claims through our purchasing contract with them. The licensee code of conduct is not part of the Coke contract through IU Purchasing. However, all purchasing contracts have an “out” clause which allows IU to cancel any contract, with or without cause. Michael said there would be no early withdrawal penalty if IU cancelled the contract, but the university would lose a significant amount in sponsorship money.
A member of the No Sweat! student group said he would look at the IU Coke contract and see where we might be able to use some leverage with Coke to hold the company responsible for investigating workers’ rights violation claims.
There was also some discussion about the possibility of drafting a standard workers’ rights clause that would be incorporated into major purchasing contracts. That idea was tabled to another meeting.
Gildan-El Progresso Factory . Jenny Daniels in RTC sent a letter to our 7 licensees who use the Gildan as a contractor, which asked them to comply with IU’s licensee code of conduct by no longer buying from Gildan due to workers’ rights violations at their El Progresso, Honduras plant. 4 of the licensees have replied back acknowledging that they no IU products would be made through Gildan, and Jenny expects letters from the other 3 soon.
BJ&B Dominican Republic . IU has some licensees who contract with the company Yupoong, whose BJ&B factory in the Dominican Republic has failed to comply with a workers remediation program agreed to in 2003. Since our latest report on this issue was from October 20, we decided to follow up with the WRC to see if there are any new developments. If Yupoong is still not in compliance, we agreed that a letter should be sent from our committee to the licensees (the main one is Nike) advising them to sever ties with Yupoong.
Multi-Fiber Agreement . This is a trade agreement set to expire on December 31 which for many years set a quota system in which companies could only produce a certain percentage of garments in any one Asian country. The expiration of the agreement is expected to result in factories moving to China, which has the lowest prevailing wage. It will be more difficult for the WRC to monitor workers’ rights in China due to the political situation. The WRC has suggested that member universities remind their licensees that their codes of conduct must still be adhered to even after the MFA expires. No Sweat representatives said they would draft a letter based on the WRC’s recommendations.
Fair Trade Proposal . The fair trade proposal from Continental Enterprises is still on the table. Committee chair Richard McKaig will seek advice from Legal Counsel, and Prof. Al Ruesink will consult with a colleague in the business school to see if the proposal is viable.