UW-Madison announced Friday that the university and adidas will not meet the April 15 deadline for completing mediation set by the Labor Licensing Policy Committee last month.
LLPC members hoped the deadline would pressure UW administration to ensure mediation results in payment to unemployed adidas-contracted workers within 60 days, which is the amount of time Chancellor David Ward initially said the process would last. The university now expects the process to last until mid-June.
Members of the Student Labor Action Coalition said they see the time extension it as a “stall tactic” for the university to continue mediation for more than double the time they initially proposed.
“This new time that he set for himself will end in the middle of June when of course students are no longer in school so there won’t be anybody here to make sure that he does the right thing,” SLAC Member Lingran Kong said.
However, Vice Chancellor for University Relations Vince Sweeney said the university feels mediation is the best response to the issue, despite the extended time frame.
Chancellor David Ward decided to pursue mediation with adidas to resolve an ongoing dispute over alleged labor action violations by a factory contracted by adidas. Since the factory closed, adidas has refused to pay severance to almost 2,700 unemployed workers.
The unemployed workers in the national Indonesian Textile, Garment and Leather Workers’ Union sent a letter to Ward detailing the consequences of adidas’ refusal to compensate them.
“Many of us have struggled to support our families… We cannot afford to eat three meals a day. We cannot keep up with school fees, which means that our children are not allowed to study and are falling behind,” the Worker’s Union said in the letter.
Given the unemployed workers’ struggle, SLAC has called for Ward to cut ties with adidas. But Ward said he believes mediation is the only way the workers will receive pay.
Support for UW-Madison severing ties with adidas has steadily grown outside of SLAC. Other groups including AFSCME Local 171, which represents blue-collar public UW workers, and the South Central Federation of Labor passed resolutions demanding the university end the partnership. The Teaching Assistants Association will also vote in the coming weeks on the same resolution.
SLAC will hold an informal protest on Bascom Hill from 12 p.m. to 1 p.m. Wednesday.