BC students, faculty and administrators, especially those involved in the Peace and Justice Coalition, began to explore the issues surrounding sweatshop labor three years ago. In the spring of 1999 Boston College joined the Fair Labor Association - an initiative of the White House, apparel manufacturers, a number of non-governmental organizations and some 130 universities to develop a system for independently monitoring manufacturing processes.
In addition, BC is jointly funding a pilot monitoring project with five other universities: Duke, Georgetown, North Carolina, Wisconsin and Southern California. This project is aimed at educating manufacturers and subcontractors about ways of enforcing labor codes at their factory sites and is expected to be completed by spring 2000. The compliance and verification audit will be conducted by Verite, a non-profit organization based in Amherst, Mass. that specializes in third-party factory evaluations.
Public disclosure of manufacturing locations is viewed as a key component of any verification system. A number of universities have indicated that they will be requiring such disclosure in the coming months. Boston College will be among the first group of universities to require immediate disclosure.
Students at BC and on a number of campuses are pressing for further changes in the way universities monitor the conditions under which licensed merchandise is sold. Their proposals will be the subject of discussion in campus forums and workshops in coming months and in the board of faculty, students and administrators formed to advise the University administration on sweatshop issues.
- Jack Dunn
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