Ending Land's End's License

Duke has suspended renewal of its trademark license contract with Lands' End, citing complaints about labor practices at an apparel factory in El Salvador that produces clothing bearing Duke trademarks.

Jim Wilkerson, the university's director of trademark licensing and stores operations, notified the Dodgeville, Wisconsin, clothier of the decision in a March 1 letter. "The most serious of allegations involves the 'blacklisting' of workers who are perceived to, or have actual ties to unions," Wilkerson wrote. Information provided by the Worker Rights Consortium (WRC) and Fair Labor Association (FLA)--two national organizations that assist campuses in monitoring the labor practices of manufacturers--supports these complaints about the Primo S.A. de C.V. (Primo) factory.

In 1997, Duke was the first university in the U.S. to adopt a code of conduct that requires licensees to agree to independent monitoring of factory working conditions. More than 100 colleges and universities now belong to one or, as in Duke's case, both of the organizations.

"One of the cornerstones of Duke's Code of Conduct for manufacturers is the requirement that the right of freedom of association and collective bargaining be upheld, and that no discriminatory or retaliatory actions are taken against workers who express an interest in or choose to exercise this right," Wilkerson stated in his letter. "[T]hus far, remediation of these issues by Lands' End has not been timely or adequate.... Despite the ongoing efforts of the WRC and FLA over the past year, progress has not occurred."

Wilkerson says that Duke values its relationship with the company and would consider renewing the trademark license, but only after a remediation plan acceptable to the WRC and FLA is in place. Both organizations have recommended that Lands' End provide orders to another factory, Just Garments, which employs a number of workers denied employment by Primo.

"The central issue in this case is the need to remediate the harm that was done to workers who were inappropriately denied employment at the Primo factory," Wilkerson wrote in his letter. "To date, this has not occurred."

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