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Annual Report of the Committee on Manufacturer Responsibility

The following was sent on April 25, 2003 to President Judith Rodin from Dr. Gregory Possehl, 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 and January 28, 2003). 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.

This letter is a report of what the Committee on Manufacturer Responsibility accomplished this year. We held seven meetings and generally occupied ourselves with the revision of our Licensee Compliance Questionnaire (LCQ) and reviewing the vendor responses to it. As you will recall, the Code of Workplace Conduct for Penn Apparel Licensees mandates that the Committee on Manufacturer Responsibility evaluate vendor compliance with this Code. The committee decided in 2001-2002 that a questionnaire was the best way for this to be done. They developed the first LCQ, sent it out and reviewed the responses. This experience led this year's committee to revise the LCQ, an effort that was very ably led by committee members Ms. Amy Johnson (Director of Communications and Special Projects, Business Services) and Mr. Eric Tilles (Associate General Counsel). The current committee sent this revised LCQ to all 32 of our vendors. We have received 27 responses. At this point I am pleased to say that all of the vendors who have responded to the questionnaire this year are either in compliance with our Code, or the committee is in the process of following-up on various questions that arose from their responses. Such follow-up is a routine part of our business, and I expect that they will be found to be in compliance too. The LCQ goes out to vendors on a timetable, and there are some few whose responses have not yet been returned to us because of this schedule. These vendors, and their LCQs, will be discussed by the Committee, along with the follow-up inquiries just noted, at the Committee's first meeting next September or October.

We also strengthened our ties to the two independent monitoring organizations that Penn belongs to: the Worker Rights Consortium (WRC) and the Fair Labor Association (FLA). Mr. Tilles attended the annual meeting of the WRC, and gave us a very fine report on that organization.

During this semester our committee intern Okey Onyekwe, a junior in the College, began a benchmarking project to ascertain whether or not other peer universities had a code of conduct and if they did, how they ensured compliance of their code, how they monitored their licensees, and whether or not they were members of the FLA, the WRC, or both. Based on the responses we have seen thus far, most universities have not developed their own codes and they require their licensees to adopt the FLA code and participate in that organization's monitoring process.

One matter emerged from the revision of the LCQ and the evaluation of vendor responses that might be a part of the business for the 2003-2004 committee. At times vendor responses to LCQ questions raise issues that seem to require further investigation. This year such matters were pursued for us by Business Services' Trademark Licensing Unit (Center for Technology Transfer) and Mr. Tilles. But the question of how vigorously the Committee should investigate such questions, as opposed to turning them over to our monitoring organizations, the WRC and FLA, did come up. The next committee might dwell upon this matter and establish a committee policy to handle it.

The Committee also recommended to Business Services that all of the vendors covered by the Penn Code of Workplace Conduct be required to be members of the FLA. The WRC does not have manufacturer members, or we would have required membership there as well. Business Services is currently implementing this new policy.

I would like to close with two words of thanks. The first goes to Ms. Leah Smith, who has been the committee's staff for the past three years. She was, in fact, the heart and soul of the committee, and did a superb job for us. She has asked to step down from this position, to turn her full time attention back to the Office of the Vice Provost for University Life. Finally, my thanks go to the entire Committee on Manufacturer Responsibility. They proved to be good, hardworking representatives of the Penn family, and it was my pleasure to be their Chair.

--Gregory L. Possehl, Chair, Committee on Manufacturer Responsibility
Professor, Department of Anthropology


President Rodin sent the following response on July 9, 2003 to Dr. Possehl and members of the Committee on Manufacturer Responsibility:

Thank you for your thorough report on the activities of 2002-2003 Committee on Manufacturer Responsibility (CMR). As always, I greatly appreciate the immense amount of time and effort you and the other members of the Committee have spent working on the important issue of fair labor.

Greg, I hope you will agree to continue to serve as Chair for the coming year. Your superb leadership and full grasp of the issues are incredibly valuable to me and certainly, to the entire University. It seems this year will be a final one for both of us, as I hear you will be retiring after the coming academic year. Congratulations in advance--you deserve to be proud of all of your wonderful accomplishments!

I do hope you will agree to continue serve as Chair of the CMR as it transitions to new leadership after your departure. In the meantime, you have my best wishes for a fantastic summer. Thank you again.

--Judith Rodin, President

 

 


  Almanac, Vol. 50, No. 21, February 10, 2004

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