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Syracuse University advisory group recommends affiliation with the Worker Rights Consortium anti-sweatshop organization
Syracuse University advisory group recommends affiliation with the Worker Rights Consortium anti-sweatshop organizationMarch 24, 2001Kevin Morrowkdmorrow@syr.edu
Following a unanimous vote March 23, Syracuse University’s Trademark Licensing Advisory Board has recommended to Chancellor Kenneth A. Shaw that SU affiliate with the Worker Rights Consortium (WRC). The recommendation to the Chancellor also advocates the University’s financial support of the WRC’s initiatives upon SU’s affiliation. Shaw is expected to render a decision next week. The decision by the committee of faculty, staff and students follows last month’s campus visit by newly appointed WRC Executive Director Scott Nova and previous visits by Rutt Tufts, who is associated with both the WRC and the Fair Labor Association (FLA), and Bob Durkee of the FLA. “The committee is encouraged by the WRC’s new administration and the organization’s willingness to work constructively with licensees,” says Peter Webber, chair of the University’s Trademark Licensing Advisory Board. “And the committee was very impressed by Scott Nova. He was open and collaborative, and demonstrated the ability to move the WRC forward.” Syracuse University will retain its affiliation with the FLA and will continue its participation on the FLA’s University Advisory Council. “The FLA has been extremely proactive in its development of monitoring and guidance principles,” Webber says. “The fundamental differences of the WRC and the FLA complement each other and can advance efforts to improve working conditions, as evidenced in the Mexican labor dispute at Kukdong.” Syracuse University has consistently demonstrated a leadership role in improving conditions in the production of the University’s emblematic merchandise. SU was one of eight higher education institutions to adopt higher standards to the FLA’s Code of Conduct in January 2000. At that time, the University required full public disclosure of licensee factory locations as well as protection and equality of women’s rights. The University is also a charter member of the Collegiate Living Wage Association, which is dedicated to the establishment of guidelines for the living wages of workers producing collegiate licensed products worldwide.
“We still have some reservations, as do some other institutions who have affiliated with the WRC,” Webber says. “As a result, the board also endorsed certain conditions to protect the University and to define the relationship between SU and the WRC. Among these components are restricting the use of the University’s registered marks and logos by the WRC, and requiring that the WRC be granted 501C-3 status, for which it has applied. This said, we feel our support of the WRC in these formative stages will positively impact the organization’s growth. “It is essential that the WRC develop as an organization in which universities and colleges can engage with licensees, and labor and human rights organizations, to achieve our common goals,” Webber says. “We believe Syracuse University’s support of the Collegiate Living Wage Association, the FLA and the WRC will provide the best mechanism for long-term success in ending unacceptable labor practices,” he says.