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SAS presents Likins with FLA's flaws, new deadline

By Ryan Gabrielson
Arizona Daily Wildcat,
March 2, 2000
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UA President Peter Likins and other administrators met with Students Against Sweatshops members for almost 80 minutes yesterday about the progress the Fair Labor Association, the Worker Rights Consortium and the university have made in the past year.

University of Arizona spokeswoman Sharon Kha, Trademark Licensing Director Mike Low and attorney Mike Proctor were also present at the meeting.

SAS presented a 75 page book that contains information ranging from a description of a Nike official's letter that mocks human and labor rights groups to a detailed analysis of the monitoring principles and procedures that the FLA has proposed.

"We've given them the information because they wouldn't get it themselves," said Jenny Mahalick, history senior and SAS member.

Along with the book, SAS members presented Likins with a new Mar. 31 deadline to have read the materials and have made an "informed decision" on whether to remain a member of the FLA or to seek an alternative monitoring system, Mahalick said.

SAS members also described the low amount of university representation in the FLA.

The FLA is composed of a board of 14 members, each representing their own interest group. More than 100 universities are members of the FLA and they are represented by one seat on the board, Mahalick said.

"This isn't something that hasn't been addressed," said Shamini Jain, research specialist at the College of Medicine and SAS member.

While SAS members said Likins promised to read all of the materials, some were not pleased with the meeting.

"I'm not reassured in any manner," Mahalick said. "I do appreciate that he promised he would read it."

Kha praised SAS members for the way they presented themselves at the meeting.

"Students demonstrated that they are very thoughtful and very concerned about the condition people are working in," said Kha.

Kha also said she thinks the new deadline will give both parties time to exchange information.

Administrators presented a list of UA accomplishments regarding its commitments to SAS.

Among the accomplishments listed are the formation of the UA Human and Labor Rights Task Force and the university notifying all of its licensees of the Collegiate Licensing Company's code.

While the focus of the long-running debate between Likins and members of SAS has been which monitoring system is the most effective, SAS spokeswoman Rachel Wilson said she thinks workers' rights have been pushed aside.

"I feel bad this issue has gotten lost in the alphabet soup of monitoring," Wilson said. "It's simple, companies shouldn't monitor themselves."

Whether SAS and Likins will have any more meetings before the next deadline has not been decided.

The WRC's founding conference will be held at New York University on Apr. 7 with all its members attending to help frame the organization's policies.

"I would say our goal is to be at that conference," Jain said. "We'll have to see what happens in a month."

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