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The Daily Cardinal Est. 1892
Wednesday, April 24, 2024

Cardinal View: New labor policy a bold step for UW

UW-Madison Chancellor John Wiley made a bold step toward guaranteeing worker rights to collectively bargain in the 3,300 factories around the world that produce UW apparel by announcing Tuesday the university's plan to begin a pilot program endorsed by the United Students Against Sweatshops. The program will require companies producing officially licensed apparel products to purchase 25 percent of their goods from factories that allow a union.  




Members of the labor activist community and this editorial board met Wiley's announcement with great satisfaction.  




The new program, to commence next fall, is a victory for workers' rights because it will help establish a market for labor-friendly factories in the collegiate apparel industry. UW-Madison is one of the first U.S. universities to commit to a 'designated suppliers program,' and it is our hope that many will follow suit. If the 18-month pilot program is officially adopted by the university in 2007, UW apparel licensees will be required to procure 75 percent of their goods from labor-friendly factories by 2010. 




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The Student Labor Action Coalition deserves praise for their unrelenting fight to get Wiley to adopt a USAS proposal. Although we may not always agree with SLAC's tactics, we share its goal to ensure the rights of workers worldwide'particularly those in the service of this university.  




Nevertheless, this board remains concerned about the enforcement of the program. Although licensees are required to make a 'good-faith effort' to get goods from factories approved by the Workers' Rights Consortium, with a budget of only $836,000 to monitor the factories affiliated with over 100 colleges and universities, we fear that WRC cannot be expected to conduct the spot investigations necessary to verify compliance. To ensure the program's success, university officials must have meticulous oversight of WRC's monitoring and, meanwhile, WRC needs to bolster its capabilities to enforce these worthy policies.

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