“Our entire leadership team has been very engaged with this student organization over the past several months, meeting with them on several occasions and offering to work collaboratively to address their concerns,” Ramsey said. “Unfortunately, despite our good-faith commitment to continue this dialogue, our efforts to thoroughly examine this complex issue together have now been rebuffed. It is disappointing since we have a long track record of working closely with our students on a wide variety of issues.”
The university has already taken steps to require all licensees that make logoed clothing in Bangladesh under a UofL license to sign and adhere to an agreement that will help ensure worker safety in that country’s garment factories.
By April 30, licensees must agree to sign and adhere to the Accord on Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh. The accord is designed to ensure reasonable health and safety measures for garment workers in Bangladesh. It includes independent safety inspections of factories and public reporting of the inspections.
UofL officials have worked with the student group Cards United Against Sweatshops on several initiatives to ensure its licensees are supportive of worker safety efforts. In addition to the Bangladesh accord, UofL has been stocking clothing from Alta Gracia, a clothing company in the Dominican Republic that pays a living wage to its workers, and promoting that line through signage and displays at the university bookstore. The student group has now cut off conversations with the university after UofL officials declined to terminate a contract with JanSport, a clothing manufacturer that does not produce clothing in Bangladesh.
In addition to the April 30 signing deadline for current licensees, the policy is included in a current request for proposals for all companies that wish to partner with the university on clothing.
“With this decision, the University of Louisville joins other socially responsible universities in the effort to ensure safe working conditions for all employees who make products bearing our name,” said Harlan Sands, senior vice president, chief operating officer and chief financial officer for UofL. “The university will continue to monitor our licensees to ensure that workers producing these garments are safe.”