Recently, I received a recommendation of the Project Team on Social Responsibility, Business Practices and Service, to amend AU’s vendor code of conduct to address the concerns associated with the apparel industry in Bangladesh. I have accepted their recommendation.
The Social Responsibility Project Team was diligent in its consideration of the issues over the course of several months. Their review included a visit by the executive director of the Fair Labor Association (FLA) who delivered a presentation on the FLA and addressed the concerns over worker rights and safety, related to recent garment factory fires in Bangladesh. In addition, the project team met with three members of the AU End Deathtraps Coalition, who presented comprehensive information on the situation in Bangladesh, the related initiatives sponsored by the FLA and the Workers Rights Coalition (WRC), and the response by the U.S. apparel industry, particularly university licensees who are producing collegiate products in Bangladesh. Project Team staff also conducted independent research on the issue and provided additional resources and information to the team members.
The members concluded that the following recommendation was consistent with the university’s code of conduct for business partners and its longstanding commitment to and support of worker rights and safety as evidenced by its early alliance with the FLA and WRC:
“Effective immediately, American University will require that all licensees that produce, source or procure University licensed apparel from or in Bangladesh, within 30 days of this notice, sign the May 13, 2013 Accord on Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh.” The Accord is an independent, legally binding agreement between apparel company and retail signatories and worker representatives and is designed to improve factory safety through a three-part program that includes independent factory inspections and public reporting of inspection results, worker training, and the provision of resources to make factory improvements over a five-year period.
AU’s licensing agent will notify all current licensees that, if they produce, source or procure university licensed apparel from or in Bangladesh, they must subscribe to the Accord within 30 days in order to maintain their license. Subscription to the Accord for those who produce, source or procure from or in Bangladesh will be a requirement of all current and future licenses.
I commend the Project Team, especially co-chairs Linda Argo and James Thurber, for thoroughly exploring the issues and providing a recommendation that meets our high expectations for social responsibility.
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