CONTACT: STEVE PARROTT
5 Old Capitol
Iowa City IA 52242
(319) 335-0552; fax (319) 335-0558
Release: June 15, 2001
Coleman accepts committee proposal on apparel licensee agreements
IOWA CITY, Iowa -- University of Iowa President Mary Sue Coleman has accepted
the recommendation of a special committee to cancel a contract with one apparel
licensee but to give five other licensees 10 days to consider additional language
clarifying provisions of the UIs Code of Conduct.
The five-member Special Committee to Oversee Process of Securing Compliance
for UIs Licensee Code of Conduct, in a June 13 letter to Coleman, unanimously
recommended terminating the universitys contract with Haddad. The committee
was also unanimous in proposing additional contract language for the five
other companies: Nike, Russell Athletics, VF Imagewear, Inc.; Jostens, Inc.;
and VESI, Inc.
"I am very impressed with the committees careful and diligent
work. I am pleased to accept its recommendations," Coleman said. "I
appreciate that the committee members contacted the companies involved, and
that they took the additional step of discussing their response with the director
of the Worker Rights Consortium." The Worker Rights Consortium (WRC)
is one of two national organizations founded to monitor working conditions
in the apparel industry. The other is the Fair Labor Organization (FLA). The
UI is a member of both organizations.
Earlier this year, all six companies complied with a provision of the UIs
Code of Conduct requiring that they disclose the locations of all factories
where UI apparel is produced. However, each of the companies expressed reservations
about signing an addendum to the code because of concerns about the definition
of a "living wage," work hours, or notification when monitoring
agencies make visits to factory locations.
Last month, following a recommendation from the special committee, the university
sent letters to six companies asking for further information regarding questions
about wages, work hours and notification. That letter gave the companies 30
days to respond or face termination of their contracts.
Since then, the special committee has had conversations with the companies
about all three issues. "We have reviewed the additional information
submitted by the six licensees to our questions, met with a representative
and had additional conversations with others, including WRC
[Worker Rights Consortium] Director Scott Nova," the committee wrote
in its letter to Coleman.
"Based on our review of this information, the Committee recommends
that the University cancel its licensing agreement with Haddad. Additionally,
we recommend that new Addenda be sent
to the other 5 licensed companies who have not yet signed the UIs Licensee
Code of Conduct with proposed additional language intended to address Licensee
concerns," the committee wrote.
"The Committee believes that our proposed language should satisfactorily
address their concerns and would not look favorably on substantive changes
in the language" of the Code of Conduct, the letter added.
The special committees letter notes that the Code of Conduct provides
for a continuation of relationships with non-compliant licensees if those
licensees are making "measurable progress" toward compliance. "This
approach reflects the broader proposition, which we have heard from both anti-sweatshop
organizations with whom we are affiliated, that we can only significantly
influence behavior of licensees with whom we have a relationship," the
Each of the proposed addenda include the following language:
"Licensee acknowledges the University of Iowa Licensee Code of Conduct
and confirms a shared commitment with the University to improve the working
conditions in the company-owned and subcontracted factories engaged to make
University of Iowa apparel and merchandise."
The proposed addenda for Nike, VF Imagewear, Jostens, and VESI include this
language: "Although committed in principle to requiring wages sufficient
to meet the basic needs of workers in its subcontractors facilities,
Licensee is unable at this time to monitor against the Universitys living
wage code provision because it believes it is not presently defined
with sufficient precision for that purpose.
"Licensee understands that the Universitys Code requires measurable
progress in meeting each condition of the Code and understands that
a continuing relationship with Iowa is contingent on such progress, including
progress on conditions related to wages and working hours. Licensee agrees
to periodic discussions to assess progress with respect to those conditions
against which it cannot presently monitor."
In addition, the addenda for Nike, VESI, and VF Imagewear include language
about working hours. Those three licensees prohibit subcontractors from requiring
employees to work more than 60 hours a week, including overtime. The Universitys
code limits required work to 48 hours per week but places no limits on voluntary
overtime. The proposed addenda with those three companies state that "for
the present, the University will treat compliance with the Licensees
standard as substantial compliance with the Universitys working hours
The addenda for Russell and Jostens include language stating that the licensees
agree "to allow announced and unannounced site visits by approved monitors
as long as [the licensee] has notice sufficient to permit its regional manager
to be on site to facilitate access and to debrief the monitoring team, both
of which shall be done without compromising the independence of the monitoring
team or interfering with employee interviews."
The universitys Code of Conduct was drafted by an ad hoc committee
and approved by Coleman in June 2000. UI licensees are also required to sign
an addendum to the code that outlines standards for wages, overtime, benefits
and anti-discrimination policies in factories. The text of the code is available
on the universitys web site at this address www.uiowa.edu/productlicenses/.
So far, 384 UI licensees have disclosed factory locations and signed the
code, but the UI has canceled licenses with 176 companies that did not disclose
factory locations or sign the code.