Harvard, Notre Dame, and U. of California to Form Stricter Anti-Sweatshop Bloc

Author: By Martin Van Der Werf

Harvard University, the University of Notre Dame, and the University of California System plan to announce this week that they will join forces to increase monitoring of factories that produce collegiate apparel.p. The group, which is likely to be joined by another as-yet-unnamed university, is an offshoot of the fledgling Fair Labor Association, the White House-backed effort to monitor wages and working conditions at foreign factories that manufacture American garments.p. Although the association has grown from 17 colleges and universities to 60 in the last six weeks, it has been criticized repeatedly by labor unions and student groups, which contend that it doesn’t go far enough to protect workers. There have been more than a dozen major protests in the last six months by students, who have demanded commitments from their universities not to sell licensed apparel that was made in sweatshops. The F.L.A. code is considered weak by some students because it does not require public disclosure of the locations of apparel factories, or guarantee that factory workers will be paid a “living wage.”p. The new coalition of universities plans to announce a one-year pilot project in which it will hire its own monitoring agency, most likely a large international accounting firm, said a university official familiar with the talks. Notre Dame has already hired PricewaterhouseCoopers to monitor factories producing licensed apparel bearing the institution’s name.p. The official said that the monitors hired by the offshoot group of universities would be asked to find answers to three questions:p. What are the conditions inside the factories? What can universities do about the conditions? Can universities be assured that their interference won’t do more harm to local workers than good? “I’m not confident the F.L.A. process is going to have the answers to those questions any time soon,” the official said.p. The Fair Labor Association does not officially exist yet. A search committee is looking for an executive director and a chairman, said Robert K. Durkee, vice-president for public affairs at Princeton University, and a member of the search panel. An advisory council made up of representatives from colleges and universities has tentatively scheduled its first meeting for June 22. But Mr. Durkee said the organization would probably not be fully staffed until early next year.p. He is not concerned that some universities will want to go further than the F.L.A. code.p. “We’ve understood from the beginning that the F.L.A. would only be part of the strategy for most places,” said Mr. Durkee.p. Notre Dame, for example, plans to be part of the new coalition and remain an F.L.A. member, said William P. Hoye, the university’s associate vice-president and general counsel. Notre Dame is also talking about a contract with the Follett Corporation, which operates Notre Dame’s bookstore, in which Follett would help pay for monitoring of factories, many of which are scattered throughout third-world countries in Central and South America, and the Far East.p. “We don’t think any process is perfect,” said Mr. Hoye. “We’re interested in pursuing every credible avenue out there. The idea is that if we have a lot of schools cooperating, our monitoring dollars will go further.”p. Harvard is also a member of the Fair Labor Association, but the California system is not. Meanwhile, the student protests against sweatshops and the F.L.A. continue.p. Students at the University of Arizona ended a 10-day sit-in at the office of President Peter Likins on Friday night after Mr. Likins promised that the institution would drop out of the association on August 1, 2000, if it did not meet conditions specified by the university. The conditions are: full public disclosure of factory locations, assurances that workers are being paid a “living wage,” a structure that allows for unannounced visits by monitors, and enforcement of rights for female workers, including pregnancy and maternity leave, and freedom from sexual harassment and discrimination.p. Brown University has set similar conditions for pulling out, but with a deadline of this October.p. Here are the 60 institutions that have joined the Fair LaborAssociation:Brookdale Community College
Boston University
Brown University
California Polytechnic State University at San Luis Obispo
California State
University at Sacramento
Carleton College
Colby College
Columbia University
Connecticut College
Cornell University
Dartmouth College
Duke University
Ferris State University
Florida State University
George Mason University
Gettysburg College
Hamilton College
Harvard University
Kansas State University
Keene State College
Lebanon Valley College
Marymount University (Va.)
Mount Holyoke College
Northwestern University
Pennsylvania State University
Princeton University
Rutgers University
St. Olaf College
Santa Clara University
School for International Training
Skidmore College
Smith College
State University of New York
College at Cortland
State University of New York
College at Potsdam
State University of New York
College of Agriculture and Technology at Cobleskill
Temple University
Trinity College (Conn.)
Tufts University
Union College (N.Y.)
University of Arizona
University of Delaware
University of Detroit-Mercy
University of Maine at Farmington
University of Maryland
University of Memphis
University of Nebraska
University of Notre Dame
University of Pennsylvania
University of St. Thomas (Minn.)
University of South Florida
University of Southern California
University of Utah
University Wisconsin at Milwaukee
Utah State University
Valdosta State University
Villanova University
Wellesley College Wheaton College (Mass.)
Xavier University (Ohio)
Yale University

Background stories from The Chronicle:
“Student Group Says It Will Intensify National Anti-Sweatshop Campaign,” 4/16/99
“Education Group Calls for Colleges to Embrace Code of Conduct on Sweatshops,” 3/16/99
“Notre Dame to Monitor Conditions at Licensed Apparel Makers,” 3/12/99
“‘Sweatshop’ Protests Raise Ethical and Practical Issues,” 3/5/99
“Ivy League Students Join Anti-Sweatshop Protests,” 2/26/99
“Students on 3 Campuses Protest University Policies on Sweatshop Labor,” 2/19/99
“Duke Agrees to Student Demands on Code of Conduct for Clothing Manufacturers,” 2/12/99
“Developing Codes of Conduct for Manufacturers of College Apparel,” 11/13/98

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