CONTACT: MARY GERAGHTY KENYON
300 Plaza Centre One
Iowa City IA 52242
(319) 384-0011; fax (319) 384-0024
Release: Oct. 17, 2001
UICHR grant brings total federal funding to more than $1 million
IOWA CITY, Iowa -- A $150,000 grant from the U.S. Department of State brings
federal funding for research by the University of Iowa Center for Human Rights
(UICHR) to more than $1 million. The State Department award will fund the
Global Labor Sweatshop Research Initiative and follows on the heels of a $900,000
appropriation from the Department of Labor earlier this year for the creation
of the Child Labor Research Initiative.
Burns Weston, a UI emeritus professor of law and Director of UICHR, said
the two initiatives would collect details about working conditions for child
and adult laborers worldwide, provide reports on sweatshops and child labor
violations for government leaders, and work to educate students and the public
about human rights violations in the workplaces of U.S. and other companies
conducting business abroad.
The Global Labor Sweatshop Research Initiative funded by the State Department
is a two-year study of the impact that selected voluntary codes of conduct
have on eliminating sweatshop labor conditions in international work sites
producing goods for the U.S. market. Weston said that he and a fellow researcher
will travel to factories operated by companies that have signed codes of conduct
indicating their intention to pay living wages and to provide safe and healthy
working conditions among other improvements. Following the inspections, the
UICHR will prepare a report for the State Department detailing the effectiveness
of codes of conduct. The study will focus primarily on U.S. corporations that
operate factories abroad, Weston said.
The Child Labor Research Initiative funded by the Labor Department, which
was first announced in December, is just now getting underway following a
delay in the release of funds, Weston said. This three-year project involves
four primary tasks, including: collecting, translating, and establishing a
database of national laws dealing with the worst forms of child labor; publishing
a collection of essays on child labor issues pertinent to public and private
policy-makers and decision-makers; developing a college-level course, secondary
school modules, and a series of public education programs on child labor and
related worker rights issues, the last in collaboration with the UI Labor
Center and all to be shared nationally and worldwide; and hosting a conference
on child labor issues and research in 2004.
Weston said the combination of projects gives the UICHR plenty of work to
do as it continues its efforts and commitment to advancing economic, social,
and cultural rights in the U.S. and abroad.
"It's daunting, but not impossible," he said, noting that his
job would be much more difficult were it not for the assistance and support
of many people. He noted especially Dorothy Paul, executive director of UICHR,
and Gina McGee, the UI assistant director of sponsored programs who was instrumental
in helping prepare the successful applications for funding.