Upping the Logo Ante

March 31, 2006

In an effort to make it easier to monitor working conditions, the university has agreed to reduce the number of factories authorized to produce merchandise that carries the Duke logo.

According to Executive Vice President Tallman Trask III, the idea of reducing the number of factories was presented to administrators last fall by United Students Against Sweatshops. The agreement, announced in February, extends many of the conditions in Duke's previous policies. It requires licensees to buy Duke-logo apparel from factories that pay a living wage, have the presence of a legitimate representative employee body within the factory, and sell the majority of their products to university licensees or other buyers willing to meet the same standards and pricing obligations as university licensees.

The agreement also requires licensees to pay these factories prices high enough to make it possible for these standards to be met and stipulates that the conditions of the agreement be verified by the Worker Rights Consortium (WRC). The WRC is a nonprofit organization that keeps affiliated colleges and universities informed of conditions in factories that produce goods bearing their names and logos. In 2001, Duke joined the WRC. Jim Wilkerson, Duke's director of licensing, now chairs the WRC's board.

"We are committing to enter into a pilot program in which we will, in consultation with the WRC, require that 25 percent of Duke production be moved to a smaller number of designated factories that meet all of our requirements, and which can be more closely monitored," Trask says. "We agree with the students that this is an important global issue, and represents the latest instance in which Duke has provided leadership in the international anti-sweatshop movement."