Delivering American University's news and views since 1925. | Saturday, February 24, 2018

AU ends licensing agreements due to unsafe work environments

AU has ceased its licensing partnerships with two apparel companies and suspended its partnership with a third as a result of its new push to force companies producing AU apparel to adhere to the Accord for Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh.

The University chose not to renew its licensing agreements with Paramount Apparel and Box Seat Clothing. It is also currently suspending its agreement with the apparel company JanSport as the University looks at its parent company, VF Corporation and its labor practices in Bangladesh, according to Assistant Vice President of External Relations and Auxiliary Services Linda Argo.

The administration first began changing its policies regarding apparel partnerships in April, when President Neil Kerwin sent a memo to the campus community stating that AU would cease partnerships with any companies that did not sign the Accord for Fire and Building Safety within 30 days, the Eagle previously reported.

The AU End Deathtraps Coalition has been pushing the University to change its policies since fall 2013 and protested outside Kerwin’s office earlier this month because of the administration’s delayed response, the Eagle previously reported. Argo then sent a memo to the group on Sept. 5 announcing the changes, as well as AU’s hiring of the licensing management company Strategic Marketing Affiliates.

“AU is monitoring SMA’s performance by relying upon data from the WRC and FLA factory databases, the Bangladesh Accord website, and by consulting with peer institutions,” Argo said in the email to the group.

The coalition, was disappointed to see that the University has not severed ties with JanSport, according to College of Arts and Sciences senior Caiden Elmer, a member of the coalition.

“By choosing not to cut JanSport, [the] AU administration has not obeyed President Kerwin’s message nor our our newly changed vendor code of conduct,” Elmer said in an email. “They didn’t stay true to their word and I think this also shows a lack of communication and accountability to the student body.”

While glad to see that AU is taking steps to reform its policies regarding apparel companies, the group feels that the administration has still not done enough, Elmer said in an email.

“It has been disheartening to see that [the new policies have] not been put into effect. We still have yet to cut contracts with JanSport,” Elmer said. “JanSport/VF is one of the most dangerous brands producing in Bangladesh and we still have a relationship with them, even though they should have been cut on May 21.”

kmagill@theeagleonline.com


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