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Duke Agrees to Reduce the Number of Factories Producing Duke Merchandise
Durham, N.C. - In an effort to better monitor those factories that produce apparel with Duke University logos, Duke has agreed to reduce the number of factories that manufacture Duke merchandise, university officials announced Monday.
Duke Executive Vice President Tallman Trask III said administrators were approached in the fall by United Students Against Sweatshops who asked Duke to reduce the number of factories producing its apparel as a means to improve monitoring and working conditions in those factories.
"We told them at the time that we wanted to review the proposal with care and would meet again with them early in the new semester," Trask said. "Today, we met again with the students and we agreed in principle to a process to implement their proposal."
The agreement extends many conditions in Duke's previous policies requiring licensees to buy Duke logo apparel from factories that:
-- pay a living wage;
-- have the presence of a legitimate representative employee body within the factory;
-- sell the majority of their products to university licensees (or to other buyers willing to meet the same standards and pricing obligations as university licensees.)
The agreement also requires licensees to pay these factories prices sufficient to make it possible for these standards to be met, and that the conditions of the agreement be verified by the Worker Rights Consortium (WRC). The WRC is a non-profit organization that keeps affiliated colleges and universities informed about conditions in the factories that produce goods bearing their names and logos. Duke joined the WRC in 2001, and Jim Wilkerson, Duke's director of licensing, is now chairman of the board of that organization.
"We are committing to enter into a pilot program in which we will, in consultation with the WRC, require that 25 percent of Duke production be moved to a smaller number of designated factories that meet all of our requirements, and which can be more closely monitored," Trask said. "We agree with the students that this is an important global issue, and represents the latest instance in which Duke has provided leadership in the international anti-sweatshop movement."
In January 1999, Duke officials and Duke Students Against Sweatshops signed an agreement committing the university to seek disclosure of all licensees' factory locations. Duke was among the first universities in the nation to take such an action. Duke's agent then renegotiated contracts with 409 licensees to require factory disclosure.
Since then, Duke has taken a number of additional steps aimed at improving monitoring and working conditions, including canceling some companies' rights to manufacture and market products with Duke trademarks because they failed to meet specific standards.
In addition to belonging to the WRC, Duke is also a founding member of the Fair Labor Association (FLA), another national organization that assists campuses in monitoring the labor practices of manufacturers. More than 150 colleges and universities belong to one or both of the organizations.
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