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The following report was sent on September 15, 2002 to President Judith Rodin from the Chair of the Committee on Manufacturer Responsibility (CMR) in accordance with the Code of Workplace Conduct for University of Pennsylvania Apparel Licensees which was first published Of Record (Almanac March 28, 2000) and republished (Almanac, November 6, 2001). As outlined in the Code, the CMR will review the Code annually; review the effectiveness of monitoring, review the state of compliance of the apparel licensees and review any alleged violations of the Code.

Report of the Committee on Manufacturer Responsibility

I am writing to report on the activities of the Committee on Manufacturer Responsibility (CMR) for the academic year 2001-02. The CMR's appointed members included Professors Arnold (Skip) Rosoff and Alan Strudler from Wharton; Jed Gross from the Undergraduate Assembly; Jessica Merlin from GAPSA; Lincoln Ellis, Michael Hearn (Fall '01) and Anna Roberts (Spring '02) from PSAS; John Hogan, A-3 Representative; and Beth Hagovsky from PPSA. The CMR's ex-officio members were Amy Johnson from the Office of the Vice President for Business Services; Nancy Nicely from the Provost's Office; Leah Popowich from the President's Office; and Eric Tilles from the General Counsel's Office. Leah Smith from the Office of the Vice Provost for University Life provided indispensable assistance to the CMR, as did work-study student Joanne Chi, C'02.

The committee met nine times during the 2001-02 academic year. The major task of the committee this year was the evaluation of university licensees' compliance with the Code of Workplace Conduct for Penn Apparel Licensees.* The CMR took as its starting point a preliminary version of a questionnaire that had been developed in the 2000-01 academic year and mailed to licensees in spring 2001. As Professor Gregory Possehl, my predecessor as CMR chair, reported last year, that questionnaire proved to be an ineffective tool for determining licensee compliance. The open-ended nature of its questions seemed to confuse many respondents. In addition, the return rate was very low. Finally, responses arrived too late for the 2000-01 CMR to make recommendations to the Vice President for Business Services about the termination or continuation of licensees' relationships with the University.

In the fall of 2001, under my chairmanship, the CMR prepared several drafts of a new Licensee Compliance Questionnaire (LCQ), including a final draft** that was unanimously approved by members of the committee. We established a clear deadline for the submission of completed questionnaires to give the CMR time to review the responses well before the end of the academic year. Firms that did not meet the deadline were contacted by the University's Division of Business Services and encouraged to reply as quickly as possible. In several cases, the CMR voted to extend the deadlines for receipt of the LCQ to give licensees every reasonable opportunity to reply.

After receipt of the completed LCQ forms, the CMR evaluated the licensees and voted to certify that a firm was in compliance with the Code of Conduct or to recommend that the University terminate its relationship with firms that were not in compliance with the Code. In many cases, the CMR found the licensees' responses to our questions inadequate and contacted them for further information.

In addition, the CMR relied on reports and other information provided by the Fair Labor Association (FLA) and Workers' Rights Consortium (WRC), the two monitoring agencies that the University of Pennsylvania has joined. The committee's research assistant also conducted an extensive search of published and internet-available sources on the employment practices of university licensees and provided background information on the labor practices, environmental regulations, and prevailing wages of nations or regions where Penn licensees and their contractors are located.

After extensive discussion, the CMR found that 21 university licensees were in compliance with the Code of Conduct and recommended that their licenses with the University be renewed. We found that five licensees (all of whom had failed to respond to the LCQ, despite repeated contacts) were not in compliance with the Code of Conduct. We recommended the termination of their licenses. Finally, we recommended the provisional renewal of the license of one firm with a subcontractor whose labor practices are being audited by the WRC and the FLA. Our recommendations were all unanimous.

Based on our experience, the CMR strongly encourages next year's committee to continue to refine the LCQ, so that it will be a more effective tool for evaluating University of Pennsylvania apparel licensees' compliance with our Code of Conduct.

In conclusion, I wish to commend the committee members and staff for their collegiality and hard work. It has been a pleasure serving as their chair.

-- Thomas J. Sugrue, Chair,
Committee on Manufacturer Responsibility (2001-02)

Bicentennial Class of 1940 Term Professor of History and Sociology

Ed. Notes:
* The Code of Workplace Conduct is available at www.upenn.edu/almanac/v46/n26/ORPenn-Apparel.html
** The final draft of a new Licensee Compliance Questionnaire (LCQ) is available upon request from Leah Smith, via e-mail, leahsmit@pobox.upenn.edu.

 

President Rodin sent the following response on October 4, 2002 to Dr. Sugrue and members of the Committee on Manufacturer Responsibility:

Thank you for your comprehensive report on the activities of 2001-02 Committee on Manufacturer Responsibility (CMR). I greatly appreciate the time and energy you and the other members of the Committee spent this past academic year to ensure that items bearing Penn's name are made under safe and humane conditions.

I reviewed with great interest the Licensee Compliance Questionnaire and commend the Committee for continuing to improve this document. I am confident, with the ongoing oversight of the Committee, it will prove to be a useful tool in ensuring that Penn's licensees are in compliance with our Code of Workplace Conduct for Penn Apparel Licensees. I was encouraged by the fact that a great majority of our licensees were willing to provide us with the information the Committee thought was relevant to its deliberations and that our licensees, for the most part, are making efforts to comply with Penn's Code of Conduct.

I am confident this information was of value to the Division of Business Services in making licensing decisions for this fiscal year. As you know, Business Services concurred with your recommendations. Lastly, I was pleased to learn that membership in both the Worker Rights Consortium and the Fair Labor Association has proved to be a helpful mechanism, aiding the Committee's analysis of Penn's licensees.

On behalf of the Penn community, I thank you for serving as Chair. I will look forward to working with your successor, Dr. Gregory Possehl, who is returning to Chair the Committee and the other thoughtful members of the 2002-03 Committee on Manufacturer Responsibility.

--Judith Rodin, President

 

 


  Almanac, Vol. 49, No. 9, October 22, 2002

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