Overview: United Students against Sweatshops (USAS) Proposal

2006

 

  • Background
    • Current system works on a complaint basis
      • Once a complaint of non-compliance is made, the WRC and/or FLA investigate the allegation.
    • The USAS proposal is motivated by concern that monitoring of workplace conditions at the factory level is difficult and compliance hard to measure.
    • Also, there is a growing trend for brands to move production to low-cost suppliers who may not meet codes.
      • This undermines the incentives workers and plants have to push for improved working conditions.
  • Proposal Overview
    • To address these issues, the United Students Against Sweatshops has put forward a Designated Suppliers Program.
    • The program is based on the principle of ex ante accreditation, rather than ex post investigation of alleged abuses.
    • In addition to complying with local laws, accreditation requires:
      • Firms to pay a living wage;
      • Two-thirds of production to be for university licensees or others who adhere to the same codes; and
      • Legitimate worker representation.
  • How Proposed Plan Changes Existing Standards
    • Creates Designated Suppliers
      • Currently, the WRC and FLA investigate complaints of non-compliance and violations.
      • The proposal requires the WRC to accredit a plant as being in compliance, as stated above.
      • Universities can only purchase products from suppliers that are accredited by the WRC.
    • Mandates a living wage
      • Currently, plants are required to adhere to all local minimum wage laws and rules and regulation regarding wages.
      • The proposed plan mandates that the factory must demonstrate that its employees are paid a living wage.
    • Requires Union Representation
      • Current policies endorse the concept of free association.
      • The proposed plan requires that employees be represented by a legitimate, representative labor union or other representative employee body.