Re-licensing Lands' End

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

In March, Jim Wilkerson, the university's director of trademark licensing and stores operations, notified the Dodgeville, Wisconsin, clothier of the university's decision to suspend its contract, based on information from both the Worker Rights Consortium (WRC) and Fair Labor Association (FLA). The two organizations, to which Duke and more than 100 colleges and universities now belong, had concluded that Primo, a Lands' End supplier in El Salvador, was "blacklisting" workers who had actual or perceived ties to unions. The organizations had tried unsuccessfully during the past year to resolve the issues with Lands' End.

"Lands' End needed to secure changes in Primo's hiring process in order to safeguard against future discrimination of any kind, including anti-union discrimination," Wilkerson says. "It also needed to remediate the harm that was done to workers who were inappropriately denied employment at the Primo factory.

"The WRC and the FLA recommended that Lands' End provide assistance to the Just Garments factory, where a number of these workers have employment or will have employment. Lands' End has agreed to these stipulations and more."

According to the WRC, Just Garments has offered employment to the blacklisted workers and is the first factory in the history of the export apparel industry in El Salvador to sign an accord with a union. The accord is a prelude to a collective-bargaining agreement that the factory has pledged to negotiate as soon as production is under way.

In 1997, Duke became the first university in the country to adopt a code of conduct that required licensees to agree to independent monitoring of factory working conditions, including remediation of violations in a prompt and effective manner. The university's Code of Conduct for manufacturers includes 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.

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