February 24, 2009
UW terminates licensing agreement with apparel maker Russell Corporation
The University of Washington has terminated its agreement with Russell Corp. to produce clothing carrying UW logos, effective immediately.
In a letter to Russell dated Feb. 13, the UW cited reports issued by the Workers Rights Consortium and the Fair Labor Association, which alleged abuse of workers’ rights and anti-union sentiment were significant factors in a decision to close one of the company’s plants in Honduras. Such actions violate the University’s Code of Conduct for companies licensed to produce goods bearing UW trademarks.
“Universities have adopted manufacturer codes of conduct to ensure that products bearing the university’s marks are produced under humane conditions that respect the rights of workers,” said UW President Mark A. Emmert. “We are serious about enforcing them, and when we come across a violation, we will take action.”
Russell Corp. announced in October that it would close the Jerzees de Honduras factory, where many workers had unionized. Investigations by two workers’ rights groups concluded that the factory in Choloma, Honduras, was being closed in part because of animus toward union workers.
The UW had notified Russell Corp. in December that it was in breach of its contract and provided the company 30 days to provide additional information the university could use to evaluate the alleged violations. Sufficient additional information was not provided. Russell proceeded to close the plant in Honduras in January.