(en) Duke anti-sweatshop policy

Shawn Ewald (shawn@wilshire.net)
Thu, 6 Nov 1997 02:07:23 -0700

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------- Forwarded Message Follows ------- Date: Wed, 5 Nov 1997 21:55:01 -0800 (PST) To: Campaign for Labor Rights E-mail list <clr@igc.org> From: Mike Rhodes <clr2@igc.apc.org> Subject: Duke anti-sweatshop policy

Labor Alerts/Labor News a service of Campaign for Labor Rights 1247 "E" Street SE, Washington, DC 20003 <clr@igc.apc.org> (541) 344-5410 http://www.compugraph.com/clr

[The following article indicates a hopeful sign. If Duke goes ahead with its plans to make fair labor standards a condition for licensing agreements, then human rights advocates at Duke would have a solid basis for opposing new contractual arrangements with companies notorious for their sweatshop practices. And, if such a standard could be adopted more generally by other schools, this would represent a very significant step forward. We should, however, not pin all of our hopes on such standards. Still at issue will be the question of who decides whether a given company has unfair labor practices. Will universities hungry for multi-million-dollar deals be tempted to rely on companies' own say-so that they do not abuse or exploit their workers? Policy changes are an important step. It is just as important for campus activists to make their voices heard so that companies such as Nike, Disney and Guess are not given an undeserved seal of approval by athletic coaches or university administrators. Policy is never a substitute for popular action.]

Duke Requires Anti-Sweatshop Pledge

November 3, 1997; DURHAM, N.C. (AP) -- Duke University is working on licensing standards that would require manufacturers of items bearing the school logo to disclose the working conditions of their employees.

The move follows a late-September campaign by 20 Duke students against what they call sweatshop conditions in many overseas manufacturing operations. ``We're not trying to boycott one country or one company,'' Duke junior Ben Au said. ``We're trying to make sure the entire system is correct.''

The ``Students Against Sweatshops'' campaign, which emerged from a research project in New York City this summer, has more than 30 university chapters, said Duke senior and SAS organizer Tico Almeida.

The code of conduct being worked on by Duke and Collegiate Licensing Co., an Atlanta-based firm that negotiates trademark deals for 160 universities, will require companies to fully disclose working conditions.

``It's important for us, as an institution, to ensure that people who are manufacturing products bearing our (trade)marks are conducting themselves in an ethical manner,'' said Jim Wilkerson, director of Duke Stores operations and trademark licensing.

``I don't have any firsthand knowledge of a lot of problems out there. But we want to make the university's position very clear, and that is that we are totally opposed to products being manufactured in sweatshops or forced labor or abusive conditions.'' The students sent a letter to Duke president Nan Keohane on Sept. 12 asking her to push for a policy that would guarantee Duke merchandise had no links to sweatshops. They followed up that effort with a mass e-mailing to her on Oct. 3 from student organizations.

Keohane responded Oct. 7. ``I wanted to let you know that Duke has taken action on this issue, updating our contract with (Collegiate Licensing Co.) in August,'' Keohane wrote. The update included a paragraph inserted into the university's contract with the licensing company.

``The university and CLC are opposed to any actions by licensees that would constitute unfair labor practices or labor abuse,'' the clause stated. ``Accordingly, CLC will use its best efforts to ensure that licensees adhere to proper labor practices and provide safe working conditions, and refrain from hiring persons under such conditions that association with (the) university would compromise the integrity and dignity of the university.''

The students have met twice with administrators to talk about the new licensing code of conduct. A final version is expected by the end of this month.

Duke is one of a handful of schools, including Notre Dame, now revising their contracts to include a code of conduct for manufacturers, said Bruce Siegal, CLC vice president and general counsel.

``When top schools, such as Duke, come out and pay attention to this issue, I wouldn't be surprised if other colleges don't jump on the bandwagon,'' Siegal said.

On Friday, students at the University of North Carolina met with former basketball coach Dean Smith about alleged working conditions in Nike's overseas factories. Nike has contracts with both Smith and Duke basketball coach Mike Krzyzewski.

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