BC Joins Effort to Study Collegiate-Apparel Factory Conditions

(8-31-99) -- Boston College is part of a new initiative that will study the issues related to applying codes of conduct to factories in the developing world that produce apparel bearing university logos.

Other participants in the one-year pilot project are Duke University, Georgetown University, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and University of Wisconsin at Madison.

The consortium developed out of the inaugural meeting in June of university representatives to the Fair Labor Association, a group of more than 100 institutions that have expressed concerns on fair wages, women's rights and health matters in Third World clothing factories.

Vice President for Mission and Ministry Joseph A. Appleyard, SJ, and Athletic Director Gene DeFilippo are representing Boston College in the joint effort. The group will work with licensees and manufacturers in assessing labor and economic issues facing workers in underdeveloped nations, where much of the popular sports apparel is produced.

"We want to do more than just join the FLA," Fr. Appleyard said. "[University President William P. Leahy, SJ] feels that this is an important issue and wants Boston College to take a lead in it."

He said the five universities plan to work with the Collegiate Licensing Commission, the holder of most institutions' logo rights, in setting up monitoring groups to observe and interact with the local clothing makers.

"Our motive is not to take a confrontational approach, but to find a cooperative approach," Fr. Appleyard said. "We would like to sit down with the manufacturers in a cooperative kind of way to look at the issues and to see how they conform with our own codes of conduct.

"We are not interested in closing down these factories," he added. "They represent employment opportunities for many people. What is important are concerns such as safety issues and fair wages. There are a lot of questions to be asked."

Fr. Appleyard noted that student interest in this issue has been high on the Boston College campus. An Undergraduate Government of Boston College series on justice activities will include an Oct. 28 program on "Anti-Sweatshop Activism" led by Charles Kernaghan of the National Labor Committee, he said.

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