A university committee recommended Friday UW-Madison put top apparel manufacturer adidas on notice after an allegation of workers' rights abuses in Indonesia.
The Labor Licensing Policy Committee, made up of student representatives, faculty and administrators, voted university officials propose a 90-day deadline for adidas to make $3.2 million in legally mandated severance payments owed to displaced factory workers in Indonesia.
Indonesian factory PT Kizone, contracted by Nike and UW partner adidas, closed in January, leaving 2,800 workers jobless. Legally, the companies still owe $1.8 million of the original $3.3 million employees' monetary compensation as severance pay.
According to Student Labor Action Coalition member Leland Pan, it is important to "hold adidas accountable to the contract they signed with UW-Madison, in which they promised they are responsible for following labor practices, including allowing unionization and paying severance pay."
"We are going to hold [Chancellor David] Ward accountable," Pan said. "If adidas refuses to listen if we put them on notice, we would probably push to end the contract if they refuse to follow their end of the bargain."
Adidas said the factory owner, not adidas, is responsible for severance pay and the company will "continue to support activities that aim for sustainable solutions to the reemployment of the Kizone workers, and the elimination of illegal factory closures and the flight of foreign owners from their legal obligations," the university said in a press release.
According to SLAC member Jon Perkins, LLPC member and university official Vince Sweeny said they would decide to put adidas on notice by Dec. 15.
"We figure the sooner the decision they reach the better because this is a very urgent situation these workers are facing," Perkins said. "We really can't put [workers'] rights on hold."