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UA becomes member of the WRC

By Ryan Gabrielson
Arizona Daily Wildcat,
July 19, 2000
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Arizona Summer Wildcat

Begins dual membership by also remaining a member of the Fair

Though no action had to be taken until the first of August - if even then - UA President Peter Likins has made the university the newest member of the Worker Rights Consortium.

"I'm glad that he decided to follow with what a lot of other universities are doing," said Lydia Lester, Students Against Sweatshops spokeswoman and linguistics junior. "Obviously, we're really excited."

In a letter written to the WRC on June 20, Likins took the action suggested by the UA Human and Labor Rights Task Force, but no decision has been made whether the university will remain within the Fair Labor Association.

The FLA, a creation of the U.S. Department of Labor of which the UA was a founding university member, is a monitoring system that allows a large portion of control to the companies which it will be monitoring.

Members of the University of Arizona's chapter of SAS have labored through rallies and a camp-out on the Administration lawn in attempting to get Likins to commit to the WRC - an alternate monitoring system to the Fair Labor Association.

With the addition of the UA, there are 56 university members in the WRC.

In the letter that Likins wrote to Maria Roeper - WRC coordinator - he expressed his intentions to make the UA a member of the WRC and asks several questions about the consortium and its future plans.

"I am pleased to join the WRC at this time in an effort to broaden our strategies to seek workable means of monitoring and improving global workplace conditions," Likins wrote. "Like other universities, The University of Arizona still has some questions and concerns about the WRC."

The WRC has yet to respond to that letter but has listed the UA as a member on its Web site.

"The process of joining (the WRC) is so vague," said Sharon Kha, UA spokeswoman.

The task force's recommendations are to concentrate on whether the FLA and Likins have kept with the resolution signed in April 1999 resolving a 10-day sit-in in his office by SAS members.

Full disclosure of factory locations by Nike in October was the first of the requirements to be met and it hasn't been determined if increased women's rights, the implementation of a living wage and establishing an independent monitoring system has been achieved.

No monitoring has been begun by either system, though the WRC is still in its beginning stages.

What a dual membership will mean in the future is unclear. The WRC, since its inception last October, has presented itself as an opposite to the FLA, with students and university administrators at the helm rather than corporate heads.

"I know his (Likins) interest is to remain a member of the FLA and the WRC," said Andrew Silverman, law professor and member of the labor rights task force.

The decision whether to remain in the FLA is solely Likins', regardless of the task force's recommendation.

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