Committee on Labor Standards and Human Rights is appointed

June 7, 1999

ANN ARBOR—University of Michigan President Lee C. Bollinger announced today the formation of the Advisory Committee on Labor Standards and Human Rights called for in the University’s Code of Conduct for manufacturers of apparel and other items licensed to display the school’s logos.
The committee, which is to complete its work within the next year, includes 10 persons from the faculty, staff and student body and is chaired by John Chamberlin, interim dean and professor of the School of Public Policy and professor of political science, College of Literature, Science, and the Arts.
Bollinger charged the committee to study and recommend actions in at least four key areas: ensuring and monitoring compliance by licensees with U-M’s code of conduct; creating full public disclosure of manufacturing sites by licensees; identifying appropriate wage level(s)/compensation standards consistent with basic human rights and dignity; and protecting women’s rights.
“To achieve these goals,” Bollinger’s charge continues, “the committee is to undertake appropriate research studies, alone or in conjunction with other universities, and recommend University affiliation(s) as appropriate. The committee may also choose to sponsor educational fora or other information-gathering activities.”
“I hope we can get started in the next two weeks,” Chamberlin said. “There are a number of very challenging conceptual issues we must wrestle with, including the notion of a ‘living wage’ and ways in which the rights of women are at risk under current practices. It is important that disclosure and monitoring procedures ensure sustainable improvements in workers’ lives, but designing such procedures for a worldwide industry that is quite decentralized is not an easy task. We need to understand clearly how a University of Michigan policy concerning labor standards will affect the lives of workers and their families.
“As the leading university in the sale of licensed apparel and other goods, we have a special responsibility to be a leader in developing labor standards which ensure that goods bearing Michigan’s name are produced under conditions that conform to ethical and legal business practices.”
Also serving on the committee are: Linda Lim, associate professor of business administration and director, Southeast Asia Business Program; Larry Root, professor of social work and director, Institute of Labor and Industrial Relations; Carol Weisman, professor, Department of Health Management and Policy and director, Interdepartmental Concentration in Reproductive and Women’s Health, School of Public Health; Phil Abruzzi, director of purchasing, Stores and Auxiliary Services;
Martha Johnson Chaddock, manager of trademarks and licensing, Athletics Department; Veronica Wilkerson Johnson, director, U-M Lansing Services Center; Julie Fry, Class of 2001, political science, founding member and organizer, Students Organizing for Labor and Economic Equality (SOLE); Bryant Ison, Class of 2000, Business School, member, Students for Responsible Business; Joseph Sexauer, Class of 2000, communication studies, organizer and founding member, SOLE.
The University’s Code of Conduct for manufacturers of licensed apparel was developed earlier this year and presented to the U-M Regents at their March meeting. Students, especially through demonstrations by SOLE, including a sit-in at the president’s office in March, had expressed their concerns about working conditions in the factories turning out apparel carrying the “block M” and other U-M logos. They had especially pushed for a “living wage” provision in any code of conduct the University might either develop or sign on to with other universities. The University’s code contains commitments to working towards establishing wage standards consistent with the human rights of workers and to requiring full public disclosure by licensees of manufacturing sites. Since release of the code, the University has continued discussions with the students as well as with other universities—singly and in groups—and with governmental and non-governmental organizations and industry representatives on all issues relating to the code.

Lee C. BollingerJohn Chamberlinfull public disclosure of manufacturing sitesbusiness administrationtrademarks and licensingCode of Conduct