PULLMAN – In an effort to support the ethical treatment of manufacturing workers engaged in producing collegiately licensed apparel and other goods, WSU today joined with hundreds of colleges and universities across the nation in becoming an affiliate member of both the Worker Rights Consortium and the Fair Labor Association.
The two non-profit organizations are dedicated to improving the conditions of workers internationally. WSU President Elson S. Floyd signed the agreements in the conference room at his presidential office.
“It is important to us as an institution that the WSU supporters who buy Cougar apparel know that it is made by
employees working in humane conditions,” Floyd said. “I agree with the goals of these groups and am happy to have our university join in their efforts.”
Members of the Progressive Student Union attended the ceremony. The students held a demonstration on Terrill Mall last week to dramatize their opposition to the use of sweatshop labor.
Floyd thanked the students for bringing the issue to the administration’s attention and said he was pleased to be able to act quickly on an issue that was important to students.
“I am extremely excited that President Floyd is adding WSU’s name to the 175 other colleges and universities who have signed on to the WRC,” said Andrew Goodin of the Progressive Student Union. “It shows that he truly listens to the student voice and cares about WSU’s global impact. It’s a necessary move to truly be ‘World Class. Face to Face.”
The Worker Rights Consortium (WRC) is an independent labor rights monitoring organization conducting investigations of working conditions in factories around the globe. Its purpose is to combat sweatshops and protect the rights of workers who sew apparel and make other products sold in the United States.
The WRC conducts independent, in-depth investigations; issues public reports on factories producing for major U.S. brands; and aids workers at these factories in their efforts to end labor abuses and defend their workplace rights.
WRC ‘s current membership extends to 175 college and university affiliates and the organization’s primary focus is the labor practices of factories that make apparel and other goods bearing university logos.
Similarly, the mission of the Fair Labor Association (FLA) is to combine the efforts of industry, civil society organizations, and colleges and universities to protect workers’ rights and improve working conditions worldwide by promoting adherence to international labor standards.
It conducts independent monitoring and verification to ensure that FLA workplace standards are upheld and FLA provides consumers and affiliates with information to assist them in making responsible buying
decisions related to workplace labor practices.More than 200 colleges and universities are currently affiliated with the FLA.
In keeping with the requirements of the new affiliations, the university will also begin the process of evaluating and adopting a manufacturing Code of Conduct setting forth WSU’s requirements for all workplaces engaged in the manufacture of products under contract with university-licensed vendors.
The code will address wages, hours of work, overtime compensation, freedom of association, safety and health, local legal compliance, women’s rights, child and forced labor, harassment and abuse and non-discrimination practices.
Additionally, WSU will notify all its product licensees of the requirement that they must begin providing full and regularly updated public disclosure of all factory locations, including those of contractors and subcontractors within the next three months.
Under terms of the affiliation agreements, WSU will use annual license proceeds to pay each non-profit organization an estimated $6,000 to $8,000 annually.