from The Daily Cardinal, September 26, 2003

Nike contracts may require pay disclosure

By Maureen Backman

Representatives from the Student Labor Action Coalition met with the Labor Licensing Commission Thursday to discuss workers' rights issues regarding UW-Madison's proposed license with Nike.

Nike approached UW-Madison for a license to manufacture its apparel earlier this year.

"Adidas is still our sidelined provider with athletics apparel, so Nike would be a licensee like any other company like Gear or Jansport," said Cindy VanMatere, Director of Trademark Licensing at UW-Madison.

The LLC, consisting of faculty, academic staff and students, will advise UW-Madison Chancellor John Wiley on labor issues in the Nike license.

LaMarr Billups, special assistant to the chancellor for communication relations and convener of the LLC, said manufacturers of UW-Madison apparel must adhere to a code of conduct to obtain a license.

One provision in the code requires manufacturers pay employees a "living wage." The proposal does not, however, specify the amount of such a wage, which SLAC is trying to change.

"We have started a wage disclosure campaign, where corporate licensees would be required to disclose wages paid to factory workers," SLAC member Liana Dalton said.

Dalton added SLAC wants manufacturers to disclose their factory locations.

The LLC agreed Thursday to approach Wiley with SLAC's ideas.

According to Charley Hoit, SLAC and LLC member, SLAC decided to start its campaign with the proposed Nike license because Nike is a prominent corporate name.

Ben McKean, representative of the United Students Against Sweatshops, said he thought wage and factory disclosure was essential for a company like Nike.

"We are in contact with workers at a factory ... in Indonesia where workers producing for many companies, including Nike, demanded to be paid legal minimum wage and were fired as a result," he said.

McKean added Nike was one of the last companies of its type to disclose the location of their factories.

Although SLAC's proposal is aimed at Nike, UW-Madison's 450 other licensees would have to adhere to its requirements should Wiley approve it. According to Billups, if the manufacturers did not comply with the wage and factory disclosure requirements, the university would revoke their license.

Billups said he will talk to other UW-Madison licensees, like Adidas, about the disclosure campaign.

"I'm going to question how they plan to respond to the living wage question and see if their responses measure up to the proposal," he said.

The LLC plans to formulate a final license proposal, including the wage and factory disclosure requirements, to present to Chancellor Wiley by their meeting Oct. 10.

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