Anti-Sweatshop Advisory Committee Meeting
March 20, 2007
Designated Supplier Proposal Update
Jenny McDaniel reported that the lawyers the WRC has consulted regarding the anti-trust issues are confident that the the Department of Labor will issue the business review letter in a few months with no problem.
WRC University Caucus Update
Annual Meeting March 13: The two volunteers from our IU committee who volunteered to attend, Andrew Lauck and Phil Shelton, were unable to represent IU at the meeting because of a WRC rule that states university representatives must be full-time employees.
Elections: IU is a Type A school, and the Type A caucus seat up for election is the one currently held by Jim Wilkerson of Duke. We all agreed Jim is doing a good job, and since he is seeking re-election, we plan to support him.
Trip to El Salvador: The WRC has organized a research trip for representatives of WRC universities to visit El Salvador April 12-14 to see what factory conditions are like there. Committee chair Dick McKaig handed out information about the trip. Unfortunately the committee has no funding to help someone from IU participate.
WRC Update on Factories
BJ&B in the Dominican Republic: Great strides have been made on labor rights issues at this factory, but now the parent compnay, Yupoong, has announced it will close. One of the primary brands using the factory, Nike, has sent misleading information to Nike stakeholders (including WRC universities) indicating that a collective severance agreement between Yupoong and the BJ&B workers has been reached. The WRC has sent a clarifying message to all member institutions just today saying that, in fact, severance issues are still a great concern to BJ&B workers, and that Yupoong has refused to negotiate with them for a decent severance package. The WRC is trying to bring Yupoong, workers, and Nike to the table in an attempt to keep the factory open.
Chong Won Fashions in the Phillippines: This factory has produced university-logo items, and a WRC assessment in the fall identified serious violations of worker rights and university codes of conduct, most importantly, failure to pay the legal minimum wage, excessive overtime, and violation of freedom of association. The university licensee, Oarsman, has refused to acknowledge a relationship with the factory. Conditions of the factory are typical for the Phillippines, where murders of trade unionists and labor rights leaders comprise a broader climate of intimidation against workers.
The committee decided on two action items related to this case: 1) Contact Oarsman, which does hold an IU license, to ask whether they use Chong Won – Jenny McDaniel will do this, and 2) Contact all of our licensees who use Filipino factories to express our concern about the general labor situation there – Ursula McTaggart said a No Sweat! member will draft the letter.
Reform of Chinese Labor Laws: The WRC recently reported on proposed changes in Chinese labor laws which would give workers more rights by requiring enforceable labor contracts and allowing collective bargaining. The American Chamber of Commerce in China, whose members include major licensees Nike and adidas, has come out against the new laws. A few months later Nike distanced itself from the American Chamber’s position. The second draft of the law is weaker than the first in giving workers rights. The situation is tenuous at best.
Coca Cola Update
Ed Potter, the Director of Global Relations for Coke, is hosting a teleconference with concerned universities on March 30 to give an “update on global labor initiatives” including the situation in Colombia. Dick will tune in and invite a representative from IU Purchasing to attend as well.
The next meeting was scheduled for Tuesday, April 24, 4 pm.