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Likins unshaken by Duke labor code sit-in

By Tate Williams
Arizona Daily Wildcat
February 4, 1999
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Arizona Daily Wildcat

"I will probably sign (the code), but not with a great deal of enthusiasm." Peter Likins UA president

UA President Peter Likins said yesterday he plans to sign a multi-university labor code despite a recent protest by Duke University students that inspired their administrators to accept the agreement on a trial basis.

The Duke officials' decision serves as a compromise with the Students Against Sweatshops organization, which has repeatedly called for full disclosure of factory locations to pin-point alleged human rights violations.

A 100 student, 31-hour sit-in at Duke persuaded President Nannerl Keohane to accept the code for one year, while trying to gather nationwide university support for the disclosure.

UA's SAS president Arne Ekstrom said the group stands "100 percent" behind Duke's decision, but Likins called for more moderate measures.

"I will probably sign it (the code), but not with a great deal of enthusiasm," Likins said last night. "I've been in the somewhat lonely position of focusing on implementing the code."

Along with 13 other colleges, the University of Arizona was represented on the task force that formulated the agreement. Almost half of the approximately 175 universities represented by the Collegiate Licensing Company have responded positively to the recommended plan, CLC Chief Executive Bill Battle said yesterday.

However, University of Wisconsin at Madison Chancellor David Ward verbally committed Tuesday to signing the code only on the condition that it includes full public disclosure.

The CLC code that the 14 universities crafted includes a mandate for factory monitoring of companies with collegiate endorsements by an independent board, which Likins said should satisfy SAS.

"It seems to me that they should be ecstatic that we have a code that everyone stands behind," he said.

But Ekstrom said the better course of action would be altering the agreement before entering into it.

"We should dictate what (the companies) do, not vice versa," he said.

Ekstrom said the UA chapter appealed to administrators in letters and round table discussions, but doesn't feel a sit-in would be productive at this point.

Duke's SAS is working to gain support from more administrations, but doubts their sincerity toward the cause, said Tico Almeida, founding member of the school's Students Against Sweatshops organization.

"The next few months will tell us which are truly concerned, and which are in it for public relations reasons," he said.

If the CLC fails to alter the contract, Duke will withdraw and publicly criticize the licensing company, Almeida said.

Battle said, however, that it is unrealistic to not cooperate with the CLC, calling Duke's suggestions "difficult to enforce."

"It would be very hard to have one university be effective . . . .you can have a better impact on the marketplace with a large number of universities," Battle said.

U. Wire contributed to this report.