from The Badger Herald, March 29, 2005

LLPC members resign after Wiley dispute

by Natalie Rhoads

Three student members and one faculty member of the University of Wisconsin’s Labor Licensing Policy Committee resigned at a meeting Monday in response to what members describe as Chancellor John Wiley’s refusal to cooperate in discussions regarding human rights abuses in UW’s licensees’ factories.

LLPC member Joel Feingold said Special Assistant to the Chancellor LaMarr Billups delivered a “hostile” letter written by Wiley to members during the committee’s monthly meeting. Feingold said the letter informed the group Wiley would not be attending their meeting, which demonstrated his unwillingness to include students in the decision making process.

“[Wiley] is not doing what he can do to make worker’s lives better,” Feingold said.

LLPC member Liana Dalton said by failing to attend the meeting, Wiley was systematically undermining all the work the committee has done.

According to Dalton, after Billups delivered the letter to the committee, members felt “frustrated.” The committee had asked for a face-to-face meeting with Wiley and instead he tried to “shut us out and treat us like little children,” Dalton added.

“Everyone on the committee expressed how upset they were,” Dalton said.

However, Billups said there was never a plan for Wiley to meet with the committee Monday.

“They had no expectation to meet with the chancellor today,” Billups said.

Instead, Billups said the letter detailed what the role of the committee should be.

“I don’t consider [the letter to be] hostile,” Billups said.

LLPC is an advisory committee that provides advice to Wiley on the university’s labor licensing. However, Billups said the committee is not the only source from which Wiley receives information and he is not required to accept the group’s opinions.

“I think the committee was upset because the chancellor didn’t accept their advice,” Billups said.

Billups added Wiley will again make it clear at the next meeting what areas the committee is responsible for, how the committee’s advice is weighed and how it is considered.

Billups said he explained Wiley’s letter to the committee, but some members got up and walked out before he could inform them that Wiley was willing to meet at a later date.

“The people walked out in the middle of my comments before I got to that point,” Billups said.

Billups said he sent an e-mail to all of the committee members Monday after the meeting to inform them of two different dates Wiley would be willing to meet for a two-hour meeting.

However, Feingold said if Wiley does not take any action soon, all LLPC members will resign from the committee.

“UW is falling behind on labor rights issues,” Feingold said. “We are not on the forefront anymore.”

Dalton said because Wiley is not taking any action, he is supporting powerful corporations. She added many other top universities are taking action on this issue and UW needs to follow their suit.

“It’s our obligation to move forward on this issue,” Dalton said.

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