University Joins Workers' Rights Initiative

University Joins Workers' Rights Initiative

Boston College has joined the Workers Rights Consortium, a newly formed, cooperative effort of students, organized labor, non-governmental organizations and colleges and universities committed to the improvement of conditions for workers who produce collegiate apparel.

As a member of WRC, Boston College will promote and help monitor a code of conduct guaranteeing the rights of apparel workers in emerging nations to organize and engage in collective bargaining. The code also mandates the protection of workers' health and safety, compliance with local labor laws, protection of women's rights, and prohibition of child labor, forced labor and forced overtime.

Boston College was one of 30 institutions represented at an organizational meeting of the WRC in New York City last Friday. Forty-four colleges and universities have become members of the consortium to date.

In joining the WRC, Boston College will maintain its membership in the Fair Labor Association, another organization that is committed to establishing and monitoring labor standards for workers who manufacture the popular sports clothing.

"WRC and FLA take different approaches to monitoring," said Boston College Vice President for Mission and Ministry Joseph A. Appleyard, SJ. "FLA is the larger organization and, at this point, has more resources and includes manufacturers and the federal government. WRC is still taking shape but it has the participation of students and organized labor. We feel that the two groups complement each other and that both deserve the chance to see whether they can improve the condition of apparel-industry workers."

Fr. Appleyard praised the efforts of students who have urged BC to take a strong stand in seeking to improve working conditions for employees of clothing manufacturers. "We probably wouldn't be taking this step now if it weren't for the persistent lobbying of the students in BC's Faith, Peace and Justice program. They deserve a lot of credit for this," he said.

-Reid Oslin


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