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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

UMass Boston Affiliate Calls Out Adidas

UMass Boston is an affiliate of the Worker’s Rights Consortium (WRC). The WRC is an independent labor monitoring organization focused on ensuring that companies which sell apparel in college and university bookstores provide a living wage and a safe work environment for their employees.

The WRC works to ensure that factories around the world follow the labor laws of the country they are in. If a company is found to be in violation of a country’s labor laws, the WRC makes the violation known to the universities that are partnered with that company. It is then up to a university to decided whether the company has violated that school’s code of conduct. If so, the school’s recourse is to void its contracts with the offending company.

Universities affiliated with the WRC pay an annual fee, and in exchange the WRC supplies the university with reports on the working conditions in factories that produce  the products sold on campus. Recently, the WRC has been reporting on the closure of an Adidas factory in Tangerang, Indonesia.

On April 1, 2011, Adidas closed a factory, firing 2,800 workers.  Adidas has refused to pay severance to the unemployed. The company has instead offered the workers a food voucher program. According to the WRC, the voucher program is insufficient because it limits the family’s ability to purchase goods based on individual needs and the process of voucher distribution was “ burdensome to the workers.”

The recent closure of the factory in Tangerang was the catalyst for an anti-Adidas campaign which is in its very early stages. Cornell University has cut ties with Adidas cooperation. A small group of students are working on the UMass Boston campus with the goal of convincing the university to void its contracts with Adidas.

Similar campaigns have had marginal success in the past. When the Russell Brand corporation closed a factory in Honduras because terrible work conditions drove the workers to unionize, over 80 universities cut contracts with Russell Brand. As a result, the factory was reopened and the company formally recognized the workers union on October 3, 2007.

The bookstore has taken to advertising its accreditation by the Fair Labor Association, of which both the Follett Company and Adidas are members. The Fair Labor Association is an independent labor monitor with its own standards for what constitutes fair labor practices.

UMass Boston officials have yet to comment on Adidas’ practices