FROM THE CHAIR of THE COMMITTEE
on MANUFACTURER RESPONSIBILITY
November 20, 2000
President Judith Rodin
100 College Hall/6380
The Committee on Manufacturer Responsibility has met five times this semester. Our principal agenda item for these meetings was the consideration of which of the two monitoring organizations [Worker Rights Consortium (WRC) or the Fair Labor Association (FLA)] Penn should join. I was eager to meet the Thanksgiving deadline for offering you a recommendation on this matter, and the committee has worked diligently to support me in meeting this goal.
My colleagues and I were assisted in our work by an abundance of written materials from both of the monitoring organizations and the press. We also invited three individuals to give presentations to us. The first was Ms. Tina Collins, a Penn graduate student and member of Penn Students Against Sweatshops. She gave the Committee an update on the WRC. The next guest was Dr. Bama Athreya, from the staff of the International Labor Rights Fund, which is a member of the FLA. She spoke to the issues of sweatshop labor generally, her organization and its relationship with the FLA. At our meeting on November 9, we had a presentation from Mr. Daniel Long, a graduate student at the University of Wisconsin and a member of the WRC Governing Board. By the time we took our vote on a recommendation for you, I felt that the committee was well informed about labor issues, governance structure, including university representation, and the merits and weaknesses of both organizations.
Following Mr. Long's presentation at our meeting on November 9, the committee had a very good discussion of the issues and then voted on a recommendation. There were four options open to us: join the WRC alone, join the FLA alone, join both organizations or join neither of them. There are nine voting members on the committee. The results of this balloting are: four in favor of joining only the WRC and five in favor of joining both organizations. There were no votes for joining only the FLA or joining neither organization. The five members who voted for joining both organizations have asked me to inform you that they feel quite strongly that the best option for Penn is to join both organizations, or neither of them. For these five members, joining the WRC is contingent upon also joining the FLA.
Our recommendation is that Penn join both the WRC and the FLA. This comes to you with a one-vote majority so it is obviously fair to say that the committee members were divided on the issue. In the interests of fairness, and completeness, I have invited the committee members to prepare both a majority and a minority opinion which outlines the basis for their votes. These reports are appended to this letter.
Having made our recommendation on the monitoring organization, the Committee on Manufacturer Responsibility can now turn to other important business. We have not yet hired an intern, although the position has been advertised. We also need to begin to work in a serious way on the Spring semester event focusing on sweatshop labor. As you know, Professor Peter Cappelli, Director of the Center for Human Resources in the Wharton School has agreed to work with us on this program. We will keep you informed of the planning as it progresses following the Christmas break.
After you have reviewed this recommendation, I look forward to your response and would be happy to answer any additional questions that you may have.
Almanac, Vol. 47, No. 16, December 19, 2000