from The Daily Cardinal - 1/27/04

UW at Land's End with labor violations

By Emily S. Falenczykowski-Scott

Land's End, a licensed manufacturer of UW-Madison apparel, could face possible termination of its contract with the university, the UW-Madison Labor Licensing Policy Committee announced Friday.

A Land's End contract factory in El Salvador has been in violation of UW-Madison licensee policies, according to Special Assistant to the Chancellor Lamarr Billups. The factory fired and blacklisted workers who tried to unionize. The blacklist was distributed throughout the North American free trade zone.

This violation came to the attention of the Worker's Rights Consortium, a committee used by UW-Madison and other universities to monitor their licensees, who investigated and tried to reach a resolution with the owners of the factory.

The WRC ensures factories producing clothing and other goods bearing college and university trademarks comply with worker's rights standards set forth in its Code of Conduct, which prohibits bans on organization and unionization, and also requires companies provide their employees with health care, fair wages and prohibits discrimination.

"The WRC is working to have the entire blacklist repealed," said Liana Dalton, member of the Student Labor Action Coalition and the Labor Licensing Policy committee. The WRC is also calling on the Primo factory to send letters to the approximately 350 fired and blacklisted workers inviting them back to work.

In the meantime, however, Billups and the LLPC are waiting for confirmation that Land's End is in compliance with their regulations.

"Land's End is already redirecting much of its manufacturing to a factory that doesn't have problems," Billups said. "The WRC feels pretty positive Land's End is turning the corner and cooperating, but we can't verify it."

In all, UW-Madison makes roughly $1 million from its licensees. Land's End's contract makes up about $9,000 of those profits, according to Cindy Van Matre, UW-Madison's trademark licensing director and LLPC member.

UW-Madison terminated one other licensee contract in the past. In 2001, UW-Madison licensee New Era Cap Co. refused to negotiate with striking workers and hired replacements instead. This practice is against the LLPC's Code of Conduct and led to the termination of New Era's contract with UW-Madison.

"Once UW-Madison terminated its contract it had a snowball effect that occurred across the country," Billups said, as other universities dropped their contracts with New Era.

"So it does work," Billups said.

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