In its latest move to fight sweatshop production of college logo sweatshirts and other apparel, Notre Dame has joined the Worker Rights Consortium.
The WRC, which activist students had urged the University to unite with, is a non-profit group of colleges and universities workers, and nongovernmental organizations that seeks to improve the conditions of workers producing collegiate apparel using the leverage of licensing agreements.
The University remains a member of the Fair Labor Association, another group aimed at protecting workers rights but whose membership includes such apparel manufacturers as Nike and Reebok. Notre Dame also plans to continue to pursue its own anti-sweatshop initiatives.
In 1997 Notre Dame became the first university to establish a code of conduct for the manufacturers of its licensed products, and in 1999 it became the first university to monitor working conditions in factories where those products are made. The University is establishing a regional monitoring committee for Mexico and Central America with members drawn from the church, labor and human rights organizations in the region.
Notre Dame also was the first university to prohibit the manufacture of licensed products in all countries that do not recognize the legal right of workers to organize. That provision, which effectively prohibits the manufacture of Notre Dame products in China and nine other countries, was to be fully implemented by June 30 of this year.
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