Last modified: Tuesday, March 7, 2006
IU affirms commitment to Designated Supplier Program
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 7, 2006
BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- Indiana University President Adam W. Herbert recently declared in a letter to the IU Anti-Sweatshop Advisory Committee that the university supports in principle, pending further legal clarification of anti-trust issues, the Designated Supplier Program, an initiative aimed at improving conditions for workers in factories that produce college apparel.
His declaration made IU one of the first universities in the nation to lend its support. The initiative was proposed last fall by local members of the national student group United Students Against Sweatshops (USAS).
During the first year of its implementation, the Designated Supplier Program calls for IU to source 25 percent of its licensed apparel from trade factories that demonstrate full compliance with internationally recognized labor standards, provide a living wage and allow workers the right to unionize. Over the next two years IU would increase this percentage to 75 percent, and after the third year the university would evaluate its overall effectiveness in improving conditions for apparel workers.
IU would rely on the Worker Rights Consortium to verify conditions at designated factories. The WRC is a non-profit organization that monitors factories producing university clothing in response to requests from apparel-industry workers.
"Indiana University remains committed to working collaboratively with the Worker Rights Consortium to assure that our licensed products are made at production sites that adhere to our Code of Conduct," Herbert wrote.
He went on to underscore the necessity of universities and colleges acting in concert to guarantee the success of the program stating, "without the cooperation of other universities we would not have the resources to accomplish this objective."
IU was one of the first universities to join the consortium in February 2000. Subsequently the WRC has a gained a membership of over 150 universities and colleges. IU joins six other institutions -- Maine-Farmington, University of Connecticut, Georgetown, Duke, Wisconsin, and Santa Clara University -- in pioneering the Designated Supplier Program.
Jenny McDaniel, IU vice president of Licensing and Trademarks and a staff representative to the IU Anti-Sweatshop Advisory Committee, reacted favorably to Herbert's announcement.
"While we understand further evaluation of the Designated Suppler Program is in order, Indiana University's endorsement of the intent of the program is a great step forward," she noted.
Ursula McTaggart, a graduate student in English and NO SWEAT! member, agreed.
"United Students Against Sweatshops won a major victory several years ago when students convinced their universities to adopt Codes of Conduct," she said. "Thus far, however, enforcing those Codes of Conduct has been extremely difficult.
"Although we've had important wins, we're always struggling to maintain and expand upon them. The Designated Suppliers Program is so important because it gives universities the ability to really enforce the anti-sweatshop provisions that students fought so hard to win."
NO SWEAT! member Phil Shelton, a sophomore pursuing a double major in international studies and political science, suggested that the program would have a positive impact on worker morale.
"The proposal calls for factories to pay a living wage to their workers and respect their right to organize independent unions," he said, "This will not only improve the lives of the workers, it will empower them to speak out against injustices that are endemic of the apparel industry."
The IU Anti-Sweatshop Advisory Committee consists of staff, faculty and student representatives who advise President Herbert about the situation of workers in factories that manufacture IU-licensed clothing.
"While other universities have witnessed contentious disagreements between students and their administrations over sweatshops, the relations between students and the administration has been a collegial, constructive one at Indiana University, focused on the common goal of making life better for apparel-industry workers," committee staff representative Isabel Piedmont observed.
Purnima Bose, a faculty representative to the IU Anti-Sweatshop Advisory Committee, applauded the students working with NO SWEAT!
"The students involved with NO SWEAT! are inspiring in their determination, hard work, and creativity to make the apparel industry accountable for its treatment of workers," she said. "They should be applauded for acting as the conscience of our institution."
Ursula McTaggart, NO SWEAT! student representative to the IU Anti-Sweatshop Advisory Committee; (812) 331-1245; firstname.lastname@example.org
Purnima Bose, faculty representative to the IU Anti-Sweatshop Advisory Committee; [O] (812) 855-5334; [H] (812) 336-0074; email@example.com
Isabel Piedmont, staff representative to the IU Anti-Sweatshop Advisory Committee; (812) 855-5458; firstname.lastname@example.org
Phil Shelton, NO SWEAT! student representative to the IU Anti-Sweatshop Advisory Committee; (314) 560-4647; email@example.com