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April 26, 1999

UC establishes advisory group on trademark licensing

By Brad Hayward
UC Office of the President

The University of California is establishing an advisory group of students, faculty members, and administrators to review the university's labor standards for trademark licensees, which are companies that are granted the right to manufacture clothing and other products bearing the university's name, logos, or other trademarks.

The Advisory Group on the Code of Conduct for Trademark Licensees will examine options for refining the Code of Conduct adopted by the university last summer. As a part of this process, the group will evaluate proposals put forth by a coalition of students and faculty, the University Coalition Against Sweatshops, for amending the code. The advisory group will then make recommendations to the Office of the President.

Horace Mitchell, vice chancellor for business and administrative services at UC Berkeley, will chair the advisory group. The panel's members also will include student representatives, faculty members, and campus administrators.

"UC is committed to fair, humane, and enforceable labor standards in the manufacture of products bearing the university's name," said V. Wayne Kennedy, UC senior vice president for business and finance. "This advisory group will build upon the good progress we already have made and will move us toward resolution of the remaining issues."

In August 1998, UC implemented its current Code of Conduct for Trademark Licensees. This document sets out workplace standards in areas including wages and benefits, working hours, overtime compensation, child labor, forced labor, health and safety, nondiscrimination, freedom from harassment or abuse, and freedom of association.

In implementing the code, the university recognized that some unresolved issues would require further discussion among faculty, students, administrators, and others in the higher education community nationally. The code therefore specifies that it is "subject to amendment to reflect any subsequently developed standards either by the university or a national higher education organization whose code the university chooses to adopt."

For the past several months, the Office of the President has been gathering information from other universities and higher education associations, meeting with interested students and faculty members, and conferring with campus administrators. Students and faculty have proposed new Code of Conduct provisions addressing such issues as monitoring, disclosure, and wages and women's rights, and these proposals will be reviewed by the advisory group.

The American Council on Education recently urged universities nationwide, including UC, to join the monitoring and compliance efforts being undertaken by the Fair Labor Association. UC will postpone its decision on that matter pending the deliberations of the new advisory group.

"The university takes seriously its responsibilities on these matters, and the input provided by students and faculty is important to us," Kennedy said. "We anticipate that the upcoming discussions will be very productive."

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