The Daily Cardinal - 4/26/04

UW licensees' deadline nears

By Emily Winter

Although Chancellor John Wiley recently ordered UW-Madison's top 10 product licensees to accept a worker wage disclosure plan by May 1, none have agreed to do so, the Labor Licensing Policy Committee announced Friday.

At the request of the LLPC, a university advisory group of students and administrators, Wiley agreed in January to require all licensees to disclose workers' wages. Of these approximately 450 licensees, the LLPC planned to have the 10 largest companies' disclosure plans negotiated by Saturday.

However, some companies, including Adidas, are stalling discussion with UW-Madison's labor policy monitor, the Workers' Rights Consortium, while others have not responded to letters and calls from Wiley and the WRC, according to Liana Dalton, LLPC and Student Labor Action Coalition member and UW-Madison sophomore.

"[Adidas was] trying to argue, 'Oh no, we don't need wage disclosure.' Basically, they're trying to get out of it," Dalton said.

Dalton said the LLPC has not yet discussed ceasing contracts with licensees that fail to comply.

"I don't think it would come to [dropping licensees] but I think that the university would definitely have a case to threaten them," she said.

However, SLAC member and UW-Madison sophomore Ross Reykdal said he thinks the LLPC would take action against licensees who fail to comply.

"The LLPC is committed to the decision, and I think that they would be willing to cut one or more large licensees if it comes to that. I do worry, however, that there may be an objection higher up the ladder of UW's administration," Reykdal said in an e-mail to The Daily Cardinal.

Dalton and Reykdal both said they think licensees will eventually agree to wage disclosure as the result of increasing pressure from multiple universities. Already, Georgetown University has sent letters requiring disclosure, and Dalton said Indiana University will send similar letters to licensees within the next few weeks.

However, if licensees continue to avoid compromising with the WRC and university, SLAC may hold a call-in session during which a mass number of participants will telephone licensees demanding disclosure while blocking licensees' phone lines, according to Dalton and SLAC member and UW-Madison senior Samantha Ashley.

"The thing that we want to do is to call and put pressure on the corporations to respond," Ashley said. "It's a good way to make them really know that they have to ... follow through."

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