Anti-Sweatshop Advisory Committee Meeting
February 23, 2005
1. Wage Disclosure. Univ of Wisconsin and Georgetown have adopted wage disclosure language as part of their licensee codes of conduct, but they have not devised a way to enforce it. They have requested help from the WRC to develop implementation. The licensees of the two universities have been contacted, and a number of them strongly resisted the wage disclosure requirement.
Here at IUB, we have still not received a response from President Herbert regarding our recommendation to add wage disclosure language to the code of conduct. Committee chair Dick McKaig will ask Scott Nova of the WRC whether he or another rep can visit IUB to meet with Pres. Herbert and the committee. We think such a visit may help convince the President. Whether or not Scott gives a positive reply, Dick will request a meeting of the committee with the President.
2. BJ&B Dominican Republic. We have received no new information from the WRC since January 20, so we assume no further progress has been made. Jenny has not sent the letter to licensees asking them to cut contracts with Yupoong, BJ&B’s parent company. She was not present at the meeting but told Dick she thought it was inappropriate to recommend cutting contracts when some progress has been made to redress worker grievances. The committee recommends sending a letter of concern to licensees instead, telling them that an agreement with workers had been reached, but the BJ&B has yet to follow through on specific promises. Dick will ask Jenny to do this.
3. Multi-Fiber Arrangement/Tsunami Letter. Dick reported that Jenny said the letter Purnima drafted, which was approved by the committee, cannot be sent by the IURTC. The IURTC does not have the legal authority to say some of the things we said in the letter. Unfortunately, Jenny was not there to tell us specifically which phrases were problematic. We discussed the options of either revising the letter so IURTC can send it, or sending it out from the committee instead of from IURTC. Dick will discuss this with Jenny and Purnima.
4. VF Corporation, Far East and First Apparel. The WRC issued a report on Feb. 8 on Far East and First Apparel, two related apparel factories in Thailand. The WRC investigation documented a number of serious workers’ rights violations, but substantial progress has been made at both factories toward remediation. The WRC did not receive any cooperation from the collegiate licensee who uses these factories, the VF Corporation, but VF may place orders from these factories in the spring, which the WRC would see as a reward for workers’ rights progress made. We will watch for WRC updates.
5. WRC University Caucus Meeting. The meeting is to take place Friday, April 29 at Georgetown University. Purnima expressed an interest in attending as IU’s rep last year, and Dick will ask her whether she would like to attend this year.
6. Fair Trade Proposal. Dick has not had a chance to ask Scott Nova whether the WRC is interested in pursuing a multi-university agreement in support of fair trade cooperatives, or whether the WRC has any advice on fair trade proposals in general. Our committee is still interested in organizing a small conference in Fall 2005 to explore the idea of universities supporting fair trade. Isabel will contact Purnima and Liz to form an exploratory sub-committee.
7. Coca-Cola Contract. Steve is looking carefully at IU’s Coke contract with the help of other law students to see if there is any possibility to put pressure on Coke to investigate workers’ rights abuses in South America. Dick reported that Larry Mann, chair of the sweatshop advisory committee at the University of Illinois, organized a meeting with a Coke rep about this issue.