The Solidarity Committee of the Capital District and Solidarity Research Center have released the report SUNY and Sweatshops: How is SUNY Enforcing its Apparel Anti-Sweatshop Policy? It describes an investigation into how well the State University of New York (SUNY) is enforcing its five year old anti-sweatshop policy which is meant to deal with working conditions in the supply chain of its licensed apparel. The report concludes that the SUNY schools appear to be falling far short of a credible effort to deal with the sweatshop issue.
In the global apparel industry in general, many factories have been found to have sweatshop working conditions and this has been an issue of great concern for students and consumers for years.
A major problem is that the SUNY policy itself is fairly weak, requiring nothing more than self-certification by vendors that factory working conditions are in compliance with labor law. Furthermore, SUNY procurement officials appear to make little effort to gather more than the minimal amount of vendor information, often allowing factory names and locations to remain undisclosed. Moreover, it appears that SUNY has not convened an anti-sweatshop advisory panel authorized by their policy.
The report concludes with a recommendation for all the SUNY schools to join the Worker Rights Consortium (WRC), an independent monitoring group that collects supply chain information and investigates factories that produce college apparel. Currently only four out of 64 SUNY schools are WRC members.
Read the report.
Note: this report was written by Research|Action members when they were part of the Solidarity Research Center.