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Annual Report of the Committee on Manufacturer Responsibility

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September 13, 2011, Volume 58, No. 03

The following report was sent on June 11, 2011 to President Amy Gutmann from Dr. Walter Licht, 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.

The Code of Workplace Conduct for University of Pennsylvania Apparel Licensees can be found online at www.upenn.edu/almanac/volumes/v55/n02/apparel.html

Annual Report of the Committee on Manufacturer Responsibility

I am writing to report on the deliberations of the Committee on Manufacturer Responsibility for academic year 2010-2011. As mandated by the University’s Code of Workplace Conduct for Penn Apparel Licensees, the Committee met four times this year.  A list of members of the Committee is below.

In line with its basic responsibilities, the Committee reviewed the responses of all licensees to the University’s now on-line License Compliance Questionnaire. As of our last meeting on April 27, 2011, we considered responses of 46 licensees and found all compliant with our code of conduct and the codes of our affiliated monitoring organizations, The Workers’ Rights Consortium and the Fair Labor Association. Four licensees had not filed responses as of our April 27 meeting.

The Committee also received an update on a disputed situation involving two subcontractors of Nike products, a matter that had occupied the attention of the Committee in academic year 2009-2010. In the summer of 2010, Nike did move to compensate workers who had lost their jobs when the subcontractors closed their factories in response to worker protest. The severance packages ultimately provided by Nike, which included health benefits, represented a positive response in the judgment of monitoring agencies and the Committee agreed that no further action on our part was necessary.

The Committee did devote substantial time to an issue that has been raised repeatedly:  bringing licensees of non-apparel items under the Code of Workplace Conduct that has applied only to apparel licensees since the inception of the Code in March 2000. To place the matter in perspective:  the University currently deals with 91 licensees; of these, 43 supply non-apparel items and are under no obligation to abide by our Code of Workplace Conduct.

To better understand the issue of extending the Committee’s purview, we gathered information from 13 of our peer institutions. The University of Pennsylvania appears to be an outlier in several respects.  Along with Cornell and the University of Michigan, we deliberately created a committee to oversee licensee compliance (we can be proud of this); the great majority of the universities surveyed proceed in irregular ways, relying heavily on the work and judgments of outside monitoring agencies. We also appear to be the only university to draw a distinction between apparel and non-apparel licenses; as far as we can tell, our peers uniformly demand compliance of all licensees (perhaps we should not be proud on this score).

A consensus emerged in the Committee that the University should consider extending the direct monitoring of workplace conduct to non-apparel licensees. However, the Committee decided not to make a formal recommendation to the administration at this time, as more due diligence on our part is in order. Our survey needs to be sharpened—it was conducted quickly—and we need to better understand the logistical and other implications of more than doubling the number of licensees that we review.  We are also conscious that this recommendation has the potential effect of extending the charge originally put to the Committee. Though we are sensitive to this issue, we find it difficult to ignore the possibility that Penn is unique among its peers in requiring manufacturing responsibility solely from apparel licensees and believe that consideration is warranted.

The Committee intends to finalize its review regarding the extension of the University’s Code of Workplace Conduct to Penn non-apparel licensees in the upcoming academic year. The Committee also intends to relook at the language of the current code to determine whether changing circumstances warrant revisions of the text.

Please let me know if you need further information or would like to discuss directly the issues noted in this report.

—Walter Licht, Walter H. Annenberg Professor of History
Chair, Committee on Manufacturing Responsibility

Committee on Manufacturing Responsibility 2010-2011

Walter Licht, SAS, Chair
Robin Leidner, SAS
Mark Stern, SP2
Taylor Berkowitz, PPSA
Steven Hauber, WPPSA
Maddie Macks, CHAC
Kenny Puk, CHAC
Dong Chen, Undergraduate Assembly
Allyson Davis, GAPSA
Bokhung Kim, GAPSA
Leo Charney, Provost’s Office (Ex-Officio)
Leah Popowich, President’s Office (Ex-Officio)
Christopher Bradie, Business Services (Ex-Officio)
Ilene Wilder, Business Services (Ex-Officio)
Pierce Buller, Office of General Counsel (Ex- Officio)
Jackie Miraglia (Staff Support)
Andrew Schlossberg (Intern)

 

The following response from the president was sent to Walter Licht on July 5, 2011.

Response to the Chair from President Gutmann

Thank you for your detailed report of the 2010-2011 discussions of the Committee on Manufacturing Responsibility. I am pleased to hear about your deliberations and thank the Committee for its continued commitment to fair employment standards for University licensees.

I also appreciate your thoughtful conversation regarding licensees of non-apparel items under the Code of Workplace Conduct, which was first published in the Almanac in March, 2000. I look forward to hearing of the Committee’s suggestions with respect to appropriate licensee compliance.

Thank you, and all of the members of the CMR, once again for your dedication to these important topics and please accept my warmest wishes for an enjoyable summer.

—Amy Gutmann, President

Almanac - September 13, 2011, Volume 58, No. 03