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Annual Report of the Committee on Manufacturer Responsibility
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September 2, 2008, Volume 55, No. 2

The following was sent on June 17, 2008 to President Amy Gutmann from Dr. Greg Urban, Chair of the Committee on Manufacturer Responsibility (CMR) in accordance with the Code of Workplace Conduct for University of Pennsylvania Apparel Licensees. 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.

Annual Report of the Committee on Manufacturer Responsibility

This is a report of the Committee on Manufacturer Responsibility (CMR) for academic year 2007-2008. The committee was established in accord with the University’s Code of Workplace Conduct (the Code) for manufacturers licensed to provide apparel with the Penn logo or identification. Its purpose is to ensure compliance with the Code by manufacturers through monitoring and oversight.  It has now completed its eighth year of operation. We held four meetings in the course of the year as required by the Code. Meetings took place on October 18, 2007, November 20, 2007, March 18, 2008, and April 29, 2008.  Membership continues to undergo change. The 2007-2008 membership list is below.

As part of its monitoring efforts, the CMR works with two organizations: the Worker Rights Consortium (WRC), an independent labor rights organization sponsored by a coalition of 175 university and colleges, and the Fair Labor Association (FLA), an independent monitoring organization sponsored by both industry and universities. The University of Pennsylvania is a member of both, and the CMR sends representatives to meetings of these organizations. This year our representatives attended meetings of the WRC Working Group on October 18, 2007 and March 20, 2008; the WRC University Caucus on June 5, 2008 and of the FLA (CAMEX) on March 3, 2008.

In addition to participating in these organizations, the CMR endeavors to directly monitor its licensees by sending out each year a License Compliance Questionnaire (LCQ) to each of our licensees. In 2007-2008, we sent out 47 LCQs as part of the license renewal process for the year July 1, 2008 through June 30, 2009. Of the 47, 44 licensees have responded affirmatively and 1 has terminated the agreement. The remaining 2 licensees are being contacted to determine their reasons for not responding. If any of them does not re-certify by signing the LCQ, their license will not be renewed. 

During the summer of 2007, the CMR was in negotiations with Nike to establish a new license agreement. Nike and Penn representatives, including Penn’s general counsel, successfully outlined terms that satisfied the requirements of the Code as understood by the CMR. The CMR was informed at its first meeting in the fall that Nike, for reasons unrelated to its specific negotiations with Penn, had decided not to go forward with the agreement.

As the 2007-2008 academic year began, the CMR was continuing to monitor the progress towards establishment of a Designated Suppliers Program (DSP). The program was an initiative of the Worker Rights Consortium (WRC). The objective of the DSP was to ensure stricter compliance by manufacturers with the codes of workplace conduct of many universities and colleges. The WRC sent the proposal to the Justice Department’s Anti-Trust section for an opinion.  The CMR learned at its March meeting that the Justice Department would not issue an opinion during the current Presidential term. This meant that the DSP would not be an option available to the University for the foreseeable future.

The CMR charge includes an annual review of the Code and an evaluation of its effectiveness. The CMR conducted this review and proposes no changes at the present time. However, as part of its efforts to bring about ever greater compliance with the Code not just by licensees but also by their supplying factories, the CMR looked into item VI.A of the Code, which requires “public disclosure” of “the company names, owners, and/or officers, addresses, and nature of the business association…of all the licensees’ contractors and manufacturing plants which are involved in the manufacturing process of items which bear, or will bear, the name, trademarks and/or images of the University.” Accordingly, the CMR prepared a list not just of the 47 current licensees, but also of their 275 supplying factories around the world. The WRC maintains a website where universities and colleges may post such information. The CMR concluded that listing its licensees and their supplying factories on the WRC website would help to ensure compliance with the Code through public oversight. Pending review by University counsel, the CMR proposes to post its information on the WRC website.

Given the number of supplying factories and their distribution around the globe, the monitoring and oversight responsibilities of the CMR are daunting. It is obvious to the committee that the LCQ alone, while necessary, is not sufficient to accomplish the task. The committee must continue to rely on the WRC and FLA, and we regard public disclosure as crucial to oversight. 

As part of its future work, the committee proposes to look into initiatives being undertaken by peer institutions and to coordinate our efforts with those of related organizations and committees on campus. 

–Greg Urban, Arthur Hobson Quinn Professor
Department of Anthropology, School of Arts and Sciences

Committee on Manufacturer Responsibility 2007-2008

Greg Urban, Chair, University of Pennsylvania Museum
Howard Kunreuther, Wharton School
Diana Mutz, Political Science, SAS
Colleen Rotindo, PPSA
Steven Hauber, WPSA
Phoebe Cheng, Civic House
Ashley Templeton, Civic House
Jason Karsh, Undergraduate Assembly
Ryan Burg, GAPSA

Ex-Officio
Leo Charney, Provost’s Office
Leah Popowich, President’s Office
Christopher Bradie, Business Services
Ilene Wilder, Business Services
Pierce Buller, Office of General Counsel

Staff
Jackie Miraglia, Center for Technology Transfer

 

The following response from President Amy Gutmann was sent on July 25, 2008.

Response to the Chair from President Gutmann

Thank you for your thorough report detailing the activities of the Committee on Manufacturer Responsibility (CMR) for the 2007-2008 academic year.

I appreciate the continued attention you and the other CMR members gave toward the proposed Designated Suppliers Program (DSP).  I am also grateful for your ongoing commitment to ensuring that both our licensees and their supplying factories are in conformance with the Code of Workplace Conduct. As you note, our License Compliance Questionnaires are important tools in this regard and I applaud your on-going work to more fully ascertain compliance by increasing public disclosure of manufacturer and supplier information.

Please accept my appreciation for your diligent work as chair of the CMR and extend my gratitude to the other members of the Committee.  I’d also like to express my thanks to Professor Howard Kunreuther for his many years of dedicated service on this important committee.

Related: A Code of Workplace Conduct for Penn Apparel Licensees

Almanac - September 2, 2008, Volume 55, No. 2