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Workshop to Explore Global Labor Standards

October 20, 2009

UW-Madison News Release–During the past decade, efforts to improve labor standards in global supply chains have focused on encouraging retailers and manufacturing firms to adopt private voluntary codes of conduct monitored by professional auditors and non-governmental organizations.

These codes are widely considered to have had a beneficial but limited impact in achieving the desired objectives of improving wages, working conditions, and rights of association for workers. The University of Wisconsin-Madison has been in the forefront of this movement through its participation in the Collegiate Licensing Consortium (CLC) and the Workers’
Rights Consortium.

To advance university efforts and provide a forum for discussion of these topics, the university will hold a one-day forum called “Improving Labor Standards in Global Supply Chains: Codes of Conduct, Monitoring, and Beyond.”

The session, open to the public, will be held from 9:15 a.m.-3:30 p.m. on Friday, November 6, in the Capital Conference Room, 5120AB of Grainger Hall, 975 University Avenue.

The event is sponsored by the Center for World Affairs and the Global Economy (WAGE) and the UW-Madison Labor Licensing Policy Committee, an advisory panel to Chancellor Biddy Martin. Martin is also expected to attend.

“As a university, we’re deeply committed to producing licensed products in conditions that our students, faculty, staff and alumni can be proud of,” says Dawn Crim, special assistant to Martin and UW-Madison director of community relations. “We’re always looking for ways to strengthen this process and explore new and additional tools that are available to us.”

The one-day workshop will bring together leading academic researchers and policy practitioners to review current approaches to improving labor standards in global supply chains, with particular reference to collegiate licensed apparel.

The workshop’s goals are to enrich public understanding of these issues and to lay the groundwork for an informed debate about alternative approaches to supply chain governance and collegiate labor licensing policy.  Key questions to be explored in the workshop include:

– What kinds of experiments and innovations are now under way in the worlds of private voluntary codes and audits, national-level regulation and global rule-making?

– What are the results of these different initiatives for wages, working   conditions and rights of association, as well as for more conventional measures of firm performance?

– Are there alternative ways of regulating labor standards in global supply chains that might plausibly achieve greater success than current efforts?

Register online for free by Thursday, October 29. Box lunches will be provided for those who register early on a first-come, first-served basis.

Learn more information about WAGE or the Labor Licensing Policy Committee.

For more information, contact: Dawn Crim, 608-263-5510, dbcrim@bascom.wisc.edu or Jonathan Zeitlin, 608-262-1131, jzeitlin@wisc.edu

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