Special to The Observer
Notre Dame president Edward Malloy has accepted recommendations by the University's Task Force on Anti-sweatshop Initiatives that, consistent with Catholic social teaching, the University prohibit the manufacture of licensed products in all countries, without exception, which do not recognize the legal rights of workers to organize, and that the University create a model factory monitoring program to provide for joint monitoring by professional auditors and members of church, labor and human rights organizations.
A third recommendation, that the University request full public disclosure of manufacturing sites by all its licensees, already is being implemented.
Malloy appointed the task force in March 1999. The 13-member group is composed of University faculty, students and administrators and three non-voting advisory members representing adidas America, Sara Lee Corp. and Follett Higher Education group, which operates the University's bookstore.
The task force is continuing to study sweatshop matters and intends to make a further recommendation to Malloy later this year concerning the issue of a living wage for workers manufacturing licensed products.
The requirement of the right to organize, which will be added to the University's code of conduct and become part of its contractual agreement with licensees, will require that all countries where Notre Dame licensed products are made be signatories to the relevant international Labor Organization treaties and/or have national laws guaranteeing the legal rights of free association and union organizing.
The provision specifies that "Employer created, mandated or sponsored organizations, such as company unions, do not satisfy the requirement."
The provision effectively will prohibit the manufacture of Notre Dame-licensed products in China. The task force notes that some institutions have made china an exception to such requirements in the belief that the may be able to influence Chinese policy, but the task force "believes such special country exceptions tend to swallow the rule and that lobbying licenses is unlikely to have much of an impact upon the policies of … the Chinese government."
While the provision of necessity relies on international and national labor laws, the task force emphasizes its grounding in Catholic social teaching, which "has long recognized the rights of workers throughout the world to form labor unions and engage in collective bargaining."
Because of the need for licensees to shift production form non-compliant countries such as China, the requirement will be phased in, with full implementation no later than June 30, 2001.
The recommendation on monitoring calls for the creation of a pilot program in Mexico and Central America, where Notre Dame has extensive contacts with Church, labor and human rights organizations. Drawing on these contacts, a monitoring committee will be established with one or more representatives from each country where Notre Dame products are made, as well as faculty and administrators with relevant expertise or contacts and a representative of PriceWaterhouseCoopers, which the University retained last year to audit factories.
The monitoring committee will work closely with University officials in identifying factories to be monitored. Monitoring teams will be made up of both PriceWaterhouseCoopers auditors and the appropriate committee members or their designees from the church, labor and human rights organizations most familiar with the local situation. The full committee will review all monitoring reports and complaints involving factories in the region and will advise the University on appropriate follow-up measures when problems are identified.
The recommendation of public disclosure of all manufacturing sites of Notre Dame licensed products formalizes action initiated in November 1999, when the University sent a request for public disclosure to all its licensees.
All News Stories for Wednesday, January 19, 19100