Anti-Sweatshop Advisory Committee Meeting
October 20, 2005
Conference: The University and Fair Trade . Committee chair Dick McKaig briefly reviewed the successful conference that was held Sept. 29-30.
USAS Designated Supplier Proposal . The committee discussed the proposal brought forward by United Students Against Sweatshops and IU’s No Sweat! to require that a certain percentage of university-licensed garments be supplied by designated factories where worker rights are upheld. Concerns raised included the abandonment of workers in non-designated factories and the possible loss of jobs in the garment industry.
Members of No Sweat! argued that universities currently have practically no control over conditions in any garment factories, so the proposal would make it possible to control conditions in at least some factories, which would be a net improvement for workers. They also said that, through the proposal, the few factories where worker rights advances are made can be better nurtured and encouraged, and progress made would be more stable. The USAS proposal would result in greater stability of product orders for the designated factories (which must focus 2/3 of their production on university-licensed products), which would lead to greater stability for the work force as well.
Despite a few concerns, all members of the committee were in general support of the proposal. It was decided that Dean McKaig would approach other Big Ten schools to ask how they are reacting to the proposal, with the intention of moving forward together toward adoption. Jenny McDaniel also volunteered to contact the licensing offices at Notre Dame and Duke, which both participated in the recent conference, to see how they addressing the proposal.
Coca-Cola Issue Update . Phil Shelton reported that Coke is stalling on acceptance of the investigation proposal put forward by the independent commission of university administrators, students, and labor leaders. The deadline for Coke’s approval of the proposal is tomorrow, Oct. 21, and the commission would like to have Coke’s approval. But the investigation will move forward regardless of Coke’s response. (Reminder: The investigation would look into allegations of worker rights and human rights abuses at Coke bottling plants in Colombia.) The investigation will be funded by the Solidarity Center of the AFL-CIO, and universities participating in the commission will also be asked to make a monetary contribution.
Committee Membership . A new member list was distributed. The only position currently not filled is the 4 th staff position, which is supposed to be filled by a representative selected by the university locals of CWA and AFSCME.
Next Meeting . Our next meeting will be 3:30 pm, Monday Nov. 14, probably in the same location, Franklin Hall 106.