Collegiate Apparel Is A $4 Billion IndustryPresentation Transcript
UH and fair labor
“ It is absolutely clear that the University of Houston is committed to fair labor practices” Dr. Renu Khator, March 3, 2008 letter to Students Against Sweatshops
Unfair labor practices are institutionalized at UH
UH starting janitor pay $6.27 / hour
(this rate is under the federal poverty levels for families of 2 or more)
No transparency or criteria for hiring graduate teaching and research assistants
Faculty adjunct jobs awarded under the table
No ethical contract provisions
Aramark workers are paid poverty wages with no benefits. $6.30 per hour; Houston Aramark workers fired for complaining about conditions, 9 federal labor complaints in Houston this year.
Coca Cola contract
No bid construction contracts shuts out competitive bidding and minority contractors
Sales of goods sourced from child labor: coffee, chocolate, cocoa, etc
UH logo clothes and sweatshop labor
What is a Sweatshop?
No universal definition
“ A term usually used to describe a business with bad working conditions, such as low wages, long hours, few safety and health protections, and child labor”. Child Labor Coalition
The US General Accounting Office defines a sweatshop as a business that regularly violates wage, child labor, health and/or safety laws
Government and international agencies agree that a majority of clothing and footwear are produced under sweatshop conditions.
The U.S. Department of Labor estimates that more that half of the sewing shops in the US violate minimum wage and overtime laws
It is estimated that as many as 75% of all U.S. garment shops violate safety and health laws.
An overwhelming majority of garment workers in the U.S. are immigrant women. Overall 90% of sweatshop workers are women.
US Sweatshops – Between $3-4/hour
Sweatshops and University Apparel
Collegiate apparel is a $4 Billion industry
Workers making university apparel face abusive treatment, excessive working hours, dangerous conditions, and wages that are inadequate to meet basic needs. (Adidas, Jansport, etc.)
Collegiate Licensing Company
Race to the bottom
Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis coined the phrase in the 1930s, it describes how nations and states compete for business by dismantling protection and regulation that would otherwise protect the local population.
Capital moves in search of highest return
Subcontractors compete on price
Garment industry is mobile
Costs are cut on labor “sweated” off workers
Since 2000, 350 maquiladoras closed and moved to China - cut and run, stiffing workers
U of H and Sweatshops
U of H licenses their logos to many companies, Jansport, Adidas, etc.
The university has no code of conduct to protect workers who manufacture U of Houston branded products
Every time you purchase these items you have no assurances that the workers have been treated fairly
UH profits from sweatshops
$70,000 from licensing revenue (2006 figures)
The UH endowment has invested over $460,000 in Nike, the poster child for sweatshop labor.
The current approach: codes of conduct, collaborative and regulatory mechanisms
“ While codes of conduct and monitoring systems can help to uncover and assess the severity of human rights problems, they are not, in and of themselves, solutions to those problems”
“ According to the estimates of statisticians hired by the FLA…less than 5 percent of any given company’s facilities will be inspected each year”
-- Santoro, Michael A. Beyond Codes of Conduct and Monitoring: An Organizational Integrity Approach to Global Labor Practices. Human Rights Quarterly 25 (2003) (410-418) 2003
Workers Rights Consortium (WRC)
The WRC is a non-profit organization created by university administrations, students and labor rights experts. It is an independent labor rights monitoring organization, conducting investigations of working conditions in factories around the globe.
Its purpose is to assist in the enforcement of manufacturing codes of conduct adopted by colleges and universities; these codes are designed to ensure that factories producing clothing and other goods bearing college and university names respect the basic rights of workers.
Works with affiliates to end workers rights violations wherever they are identified
Raise public awareness about workplace conditions in apparel and other industries
Educate workers about their rights under college and university Codes of Conduct, which promotes real improvements in their working conditions.
No state attorney has held it unlawful to be affiliated with WRC.
The WRC has over 181 college and university affiliates.
For example, The University of California system, Brown, Columbia, Duke, Florida State, Harvard, LSU, Rutgers and NYU.
WRC is a non-profit supported by affiliate fees
To affiliate with WRC, UH would pay 1% of licensing royalties or $1,000 annually (2006 figures)
UH’s budget is over $950 million for current fiscal year
Fair Labor Association
“ It’s important to note that Adidas … is a member of the Fair Labor Association… an organization created to improve labor conditions worldwide” - Renu Khator, March 3, 2008 to SAS
“ The FLA initiative is designed to complement international and national efforts to promote respect for labor rights.” From their website.
U of H is not affiliated with FLA and does not hold its apparel manufacturers to their policies.
The FLA has stated that corporate monitoring is insufficient and schools must support the WRC
FLA vs. WRC slide 1
The FLA board of directors consists of six representatives of participating companies, six NGO representatives, and six representatives of university administrations. The board operates by a supermajority vote, meaning that 4 out of 6 members of each constituency must approve of any initiative for it to pass. This means that the companies on the FLA board have veto power over any proposed initiative, including changes to the FLA Charter Document, which lays out the FLA’s code of conduct and basic monitoring protocols, and other decisions such as the decision to terminate a company’s participation in the association. In addition, this means that the six university representatives to the FLA board’s votes have little chance of affecting an initiative’s passing.
FLA vs. WRC slide 2
The WRC governing board operates by a majority vote of its constituencies: 5 representatives of United Students Against Sweatshops; 5 representatives of the WRC University Caucus (college and university administrators); and 5 representatives of the WRC Advisory Council, an independent collection of labor rights experts and representatives of worker-allied organizations. This is because the WRC was created by university students and administrators, and labor rights experts, specifically to serve colleges and universities seeking to enforce their codes of conduct. The governance of the organization is completely independent of the companies that run the apparel industry.
FLA vs. WRC slide 3
The FLA complaint procedure throws third-party complaints back to the company in question and their contracted monitor for a 45-day period. After that period, if the FLA Executive Director is not satisfied with the company response, the FLA Executive Director may appoint an independent monitor in consultation with the company in question. Given the scope of FLA operations and the infrequency of monitoring visits, the weakness of its third-party complaint procedures is reprehensible. Fast timing and response is critical for documenting and resolving abuses occurring at factories.
The WRC Investigative Protocols stipulate that the WRC accepts complaints from any party. The WRC Executive Director, in consultation with the WRC board, has the authority to follow up on a complaint by appointing a collaborative investigative team to investigate, subject to the criteria laid out in the WRC Investigative Protocols. The WRC has the flexibility to be able to respond to urgent situations within a period of several days when necessary.
FLA vs. WRC slide 4
FLA's position reflects the companies' arguments that a living wage is impossible to define and should therefore be off the agenda.
WRC defines it as that which is the 'take home' or 'net' wage, earned during a work week of no more than 48 hours, that provides for the basic needs (housing, energy, nutrition, clothing, health care, education, potable water, child care, transportation, and an additional 10% for savings/emergencies) of an average family unit divided by the average number of adult wage earners.
FLA vs. WRC slide 5
The FLA's monitoring system is not transparent nor sufficiently independent of the companies to be credible. Uses for profit monitors that companies choose.
According to OSHA standards, the FLA procedures for selecting plants and monitors would be completely unacceptable for any company inside the U.S.
WRC uses independent monitoring from a list of factories to be monitored that is determined by the local human rights, labor or religious groups, who have the trust of the workers and knowledge of local conditions, not by the companies.
FLA vs. WRC slide 6
The FLA does not require full public disclosure and those factories that are disclosed are not released to the public.
If workers and advocates knew this information, in cases where local managers are being abusive, they could register complaints directly with the buyers.
The WRC requires licensees to make public the names and locations of all factories making the university's products.
FLA vs. WRC
The staff of the FLA recognize the need for independent monitoring through the WRC to identify problems and correct them.
Unfortunately, while the FLA may feel that the WRC’s work helps its monitoring efforts and can cite cooperation with the WRC to gain legitimacy, the existence of the FLA does little for student and university efforts to improve conditions in university supplier factories.
Codes of conduct, collaborative and regulatory approaches have failed
Many documented cases of poorly trained monitors inspecting factories and overlooking serious conduct code infractions.
Cases display that the standards that these independent monitoring organizations are held to are not being met, and more needs to be done to affect any positive change in the brand factories
Dara O’Rourke. “Monitoring the Monitors: A Critique of PricewaterhouseCoopers Labor Monitoring”. http://web.mit.edu/dorourke/www/PDF/pwc.pdf March 16 2007: p 2-3
FLA has been in existence since 1998 yet has not made a significant impact on improving sweatshop conditions.
UH SAS proposed solution: Designated Supplier Program
The Designated Suppliers Program is a procurement process proposed by the WRC and USAS.
The Designated Suppliers Program is a mechanism for protecting the rights of workers.
The DSP applies only to apparel and textile products; it does not apply to any other university licensed products.
To qualify for the DSP
must pay a living wage
48 hour maximum workweek
obey local laws
representation for workers
follow health and safety standards
no verbal or physical abuse, mandatory overtime, sexual discrimination, or child labor
FLA argues “No one has been able to successfully determine a living wage that would be appropriate for the specific countries…”
Richard Anker, former Senior Economist at the UN International Labor Office said: "The concept of a living wage is the same in all countries. Workers should be able to support a family on their wages. In the words of Franklin Delano Roosevelt, this should be at a living standard that is ‘decent according to the standard of the time.’ This means that while the level of a living wage will vary across countries, the living wage principle that workers should be able support a family on their labor is the same in all countries. International variations will be due to differences in what is considered to be a decent living standard, a reasonable household size to support, and how many household members should work.”
The WRC has calculated a living wage using the Economic Policy Institute’s “Basic Family Budget” and “Wider Opportunitys for Women’s” self-sufficiency standard.
The DSP is implemented in phases
After an initial grace period, the sourcing requirement will begin at 25% of each licensee’s collegiate production and will increase annually until phase-in is complete.
Grace Period (6 months): No sourcing requirement
1st Program Year : 25% of each licensee’s collegiate apparel must be sourced from DSP Factories.
2nd Program Year : 50%
3rd Program Year (and subsequent years): 75%
Concerns about DSP slide 1
Studies have shown doubling wages of workers would cause an increase of as little as 1.6% at retail if costs entirely absorbed by consumer
Pollin, Robert, James Heintz, and Justine Burns. 2002. "Global Apparel Production and Sweatshop Labor: Can Raising Retail Prices Finance Living Wages?" Political Economy Research Institute, University of Massachusetts at Amherst, Working Paper Series, Number 19.
Concerns about DSP slide 2
legal opinion drafted by former Assistant Attorney General of Anti-Trust Division, Donald Baker, clearly states that the DSP does not violate anti-trust laws and that submission of a review letter from the Department of Justice is merely a formality
Lawyers from 42 universities have allowed them to sign on, this year Regis, Brown and Bryn Mawr.
If worried about business review letter, sign on in principle.
42 schools back the DSP
Grand Valley State University
Santa Clara University
Western Washington University
Washington State University
California State University, Fullerton
University at Albany, The State University of New York
The University of California, Berkeley
The University of California, Davis
The University of California, Irvine
The University of California, Los Angeles
The University of California, Merced
The University of California, Riverside
The University of California, San Diego
The University of California, San Francisco
The University of California, Santa Barbara
The University of California, Santa Cruz
The University of Colorado at Boulder
The University of Connecticut
The University of Iowa
The University of Maine - Farmington
The University of Miami
The University of Washington
The University of Wisconsin - Madison
UH Mission Statement Khator on UH mission
The mission of the University of Houston is to discover and disseminate knowledge through the education of a diverse population of traditional and non-traditional students, and through research, artistic and scholarly endeavors, as it becomes the nation’s premier public university in an urban setting. In this role, the University of Houston applies its expertise to the challenges facing the local, state, national, and international communities, and it establishes and nurtures relationships with community organizations, government agencies, public schools, and the private sector to enhance the educational, economic, and cultural vitality of Houston and Texas.
“ It is important for UH … to remain focused on its core mission of education” Renu Khator, March 3, 2008 letter to SAS.
“ If you remain neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor.”
- Archbishop Desmond Tutu.
“ Life's most urgent question is: what are you doing for others?”
- Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Questions for Dr. Craig
“ While UH is not a member of the WRC, the university's current practices embody the same spirit and commitment to workers' rights .”
Please explain ---
“ This committee will review the facts and choices facing workers throughout the supply chain , the practices of the firms supplying UH, and the choices facing consumers here in Houston.”