Wednesday, February 17, 2010
Labor Licensing Policy Committee (LLPC)
The LLPC addresses issues of workers' rights violations by UW licensees. First, some background:
If a company wants to maufacture clothing with the UW logo or buck badger they have to secure a contract from the university. Part of this contract is the Labor Code of Conduct. This code of conduct states many things but the most important three are:
1. Companies must pay workers a living wage
2. They must obey local labor laws
3. They must respect the right of freedom of association of their workers
About 100 universities accross the country have the exact same code of conduct with each of their licensees. To monitor these companies, each university uses an organization called the Workers' Rights Consortium (WRC). Also in the code it states that in each factory there must be contact information for the WRC in the native language so workers can report labor violations.
Last year Russell Athletic, a former UW licensee, closed two factories in Honduras, employing 1,200 workers. They said the factories were closed because of "economic reasons." However, upon investigation by the WRC, a report showed that the workers in these factories were trying to create a labor union and that the company was sending t hem death threats and was actively repressing rights of freedom of association. The report cited the factors as the cause of the close of the factory.
As a result the LLPC reccomended that the chancellor cut the contract with Russell. She did along with about 100 other univresities (we were the sixth). These contract cuts cost Russell about $40 million and eventually forced them to reopen the plants wuth the original workers and to allow the union to organize throughout all of its factories in Honduras.
Now for this year: In January of 2009 Nike closed two factories in Honduras and did not pay the workers severance pay (as is stimpulated under Honduran law). Currently the workers are still owed $2.1 million (the average annual pay of a Honduran rural worker is $400). Upon a report from the WRC, Nike was proven to be liable. The LLPC urged the Chancellor to put Nike on notice (give them a time period in which to remediate the violation), which she did (UW was the first university to do so). We continue to urge her to do so and to take swift action. We also have started to outreach to other universities' LLPC's throughout the country to develop a working relationship in which we can develop a collective effort to push for workers' rights together.
The Associated Students of Madison Shared Governance Committee Blog serves as a space for shared governance appointees and the UW-Madison student body to communicate on issues relating to shared governance. As part of their responsibilities as student representatives, appointees will post a report following each meeting attended.