Originally created 04/08/00

Notre Dame enacts manufacturing ban



INDIANAPOLIS -- Notre Dame will ban the manufacture of its products in at least 13 countries that do not guarantee the rights of workers to form unions.

Manufacturers cannot sell Notre Dame goods produced in those nations after June 30, 2001.

The countries included on the banned list include China and a dozen others in Africa and Asia. Five other countries not explicitly banned have been flagged as having "questionable" labor laws.

Manufacturers learned of the list last month in a letter from the university.

"These are countries that either don't have domestic law on the subject or have not adopted two international conventions" that guarantee workers the right to organize, Notre Dame spokesman Dennis Moore said.

On the list are: China, Afghanistan, Eritrea, Iran, Laos, Saudi Arabia, the Solomon Islands, Somalia, Thailand, Turkmenistan, New Zealand, the United Arab Emirates and Oman.

The ban does not necessarily indicate that Notre Dame products -- from clothing to key chains -- are being made in those countries, only that the nations do not meet the university's fair-labor standards, Moore said.

Five other countries are under suspicion, largely because their laws have not been translated into English. They are Cambodia, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Equatorial Guinea, Mozambique and Qatar.

The ban arose from a set of recommendations submitted to the Rev. Monk A. Malloy, the president of Notre Dame, in January. University officials took a few months to investigate which countries should be included, then sent the list to manufacturers, Moore said.

"There are no exceptions to this requirement ... unless or until the laws of the following countries change," James J. Lyphout, Notre Dame's vice president for business operations wrote to manufacturers.

The university has also asked manufacturers to provide a list of every factory where goods are made.

An Indianapolis company that makes Notre Dame goods welcomed the new rules. Logo Athletics already asks its business partners to pledge that their products are not produced by inmates, children, forced labor or indentured labor. The company inspects factories and requires that its partners allow unions.

"We're very supportive," said Joe Cripe, director of sourcing for Logo Athletics, which is licensed by most major colleges and universities and has annual sales of $200 million. "By them coming out publicly, what that does is seconds the message we're trying to send to our factories. When we can fall back on a higher authority, that helps."

Notre Dame has been a national leader among schools taking action to oversee where official products are made. It became the first university to establish a code of conduct for its licensees in 1997 and last year became the first to begin monitoring overseas factories that manufacture its licensed goods, using the Pricewaterhouse Coopers firm to police its factories.

In addition to requiring countries where its products are made to recognize the right to unionize, the university is adding members of church, labor and human rights organizations to its professional auditors who monitor plants producing Notre Dame merchandise.

Another set of anti-sweatshop recommendations is expected later this spring.