WHAT ARE THE FLA AND THE WRC?
IS EITHER RIGHT FOR THE U OF R?
The Fair Labor Association (FLA) is designed to promote the improvement of working conditions in apparel manufacturing by the inspection and monitoring of factories, the public report of factories compliance with FLA codes of conduct, and the certification of brands produced in compliance with FLA standards. The FLA Charter Agreement lays the foundation for the creation of an independent monitoring system that will hold companies publicly accountable for their labor practices, as well as those of their principal contractors and suppliers around the world.
The Worker Rights Consortium (WRC) is set up to verify and inspect conditions in college apparel-producing factories in reference to codes of conduct developed by colleges and universities to ensure that goods are produced under conditions that respect the basic rights of workers. The WRC operates by means of public disclosure, verification of worker complaints, proactive investigations of regions and companies with a history of violations, and a network of local organizations in regions where licensed goods are produced.
FLA companies submit a monitoring plan detailing their proposal for an internal monitoring system, as well as request for an FLA accredited external monitor and identification of proposed factories which the company would have the FLA visit for announced and unannounced inspections. Initial external monitoring completed by accredited monitors is in 30% of the factories, reduced after the first year to only 5-15% annually. The report is then reviewed by the company, as well as by the executive director of the FLA, but there is no public disclosure of the reports from any inspections.
WRC model has three themes: information collection and the public disclosure of it, verification of worker complaints through worker-allied groups in the producing area, and pro-active spot investigations where local, independent NGOs and human rights groups with experience in the region will look into extreme violations. This network will allow the WRC to inform workers of their rights under applicable codes of conduct and will allow workers to report conditions securely and confidentially. The WRC does not allow the participation of companies in the development or practice of inspections. Inspections are unannounced.
Affiliated universities have a representative on the University Advisory Council (UAC). The UAC has a 14-15 member executive committee, of which 6 members represent licensing universities, 2 represent non-licensing universities, a representative picked by the collegiate licensing company, a rep designated by the licensing resource group, a rep designated by the association of collegiate licensing administrators, at-large majority voted-in member to increase the range of perspectives, the university member of the FLA board, and 1-2 chair(s) of advisory council. A 14-member board consists of 6 industry reps, 6 NGOs, 1 university rep, and a chair. Co-chairs of the UAC also meet with the board, but are ex-officio members. An executive committee includes 2 industry reps, 2 NGOs, the university rep, and the chair. (There is no student representative on the FLA board of directors!!)
The WRC is organized specifically for university membership. Each school picks its own representatives to the WRC. An advisory council consists of 20 representatives who have significant expertise in the issues surrounding worker abuses in the apparel industry and independent verification of labor standards in apparel factories. These representatives are from academic institutions, NGOs, and worker groups. The governing board of the WRC now consists of 5 students, 5 administrators, and 5 representatives from the advisory board. (No companies are on the board. That means that they do not possess a veto power in the enforcement of human rights-as the corporate interest does with the FLA!!)
1/23/01, the Fair Labor Association approved seven companies for participation in FLA's monitoring program. Together these companies contract with more than 2000 factories in 75 countries and represent over $23 billion in apparel and footwear sales. It also accredited its first independent external monitor. Verite, a non-profit organization based in Amherst, Massachusetts, was approved to monitor in 14 countries. More than twenty other applicants for accreditation are in various stages of the application process and Fair Labor anticipates additional accreditation in the coming weeks. To date, 149 colleges and universities have affiliated with the FLA.
The Board agreed to hold consultative meetings with the apparel industry, clarifying its relationship with the business community. It will hold 10 meetings with different industry groups or manufacturers to gain a better understanding of how to improve collection of information and to inform the industry about the WRC and its goals. The WRC has 75 member colleges and universities