UW-Madison Chancellor David Ward said the university is making progress toward beginning mediation with adidas, UW’s main licensing partner, to resolve the ongoing dispute over whether the company owes unemployed workers severance pay.
Ward wrote in an update to the university’s primary licensing committee Thursday that the Department of Justice, which will represent UW in the mediation process, has been working with adidas to select a mediation service upon which both parties agree.
While Ward admitted the mediation process has moved “slower than most of us prefer,” he said he is pleased to report that both parties have agreed on a process for selecting a mediator from a panel of available retired judges.
Ward decided to enter a period of mediation with adidas last month to resolve the dispute over whether the company owes employees severance pay after a factory contracted by adidas closed last January.
Adidas has consistently said they are not responsible for paying the workers. However, the Labor Licensing Policy Committee and Student Labor Action Coalition members have argued that by not paying the workers, adidas is in breach of the university’s code of conduct—which outlines a company’s responsibilities in dealing with workers, factories and suppliers.
Once the mediator has been selected, Ward said the parties and the mediator will choose dates and a location for mediation.
Ward also said he still believes mediation presents UW the best opportunity to ensure the workers are paid.