The Worker Rights Consortium (“WRC”) is an independent labor rights monitoring organization, conducting investigations of working conditions in factories around the globe, with the purpose to combat sweatshops and protect the rights of workers who make apparel and other products. Its mission is to assist colleges and universities in the United States with the effective enforcement of their manufacturing codes of conduct. The WRC collects from over 175 college and university affiliates a list of factories where their school's logo goods are produced. Logo goods are products such as sweatshirts, t-shirts, baseball caps, coffee mugs, etc. that bear the college and university names and logos. The schools obtain the list of factories from their licensee companies. Licensee companies are companies that pay fees to schools in exchange for the right to sell products with the school's logo. The licensee companies have the goods manufactured in one or more factories, often overseas.
The WRC conducts independent, in-depth investigations; issues public reports on factories producing for major brands; and aids workers at these factories in their efforts to end labor abuses and defend their workplace rights.
Who can access it?
The WRC can launch factory assessments in direct response to worker complaints in the factories. The WRC can also proactively start an investigation, for example if there are indications from a reliable NGO.
How does it work?
Response to complaints
When worker complaints are received, the WRC weighs several issues in deciding whether to launch an investigation, including: the severity of the alleged violations, the views of knowledgeable local NGOs about the credibility of the allegations and the amount of production done by the factory for WRC affiliate schools and/or other major US apparel brands.
The WRC initiates proactive investigations in a number of different circumstances. For example, the WRC may decide to conduct an assessment when there are indications from reliable local NGOs that serious problems exist at a factory producing goods for WRC affiliate schools or when a particular factory is determined to be an especially important source of university apparel but little information is available about conditions.
In deciding whether to launch any investigation, the WRC considers whether collegiate production is an important enough part of a factory’s overall output to give licensees and universities real leverage to correct any violations that may be identified, or whether the factory has other major buyers who are likely to be rsponsive to findings of labor rights violations.
WRC Investigations shall be undertaken by Collaborative Investigative Teams, consisting of mandatory team members from on-site workers or community members in the immediate locality or region of the workplaces to be investigated, and their local or regional individual or organizational representatives or advocates and/or on-site or off-site staff or Board members of the WRC. Other members can also include local and regional organizations and advocates (in addition to the abovementioned) or based outside the area, local and regional specialists in labor-law compliance, labor relations, human rights, empirical social science methodologies, and other relevant fields, or based outside the area, members, representatives or appointees of the three WRC Constituencies who are not members of the WRC staff or Board.
The Collaborative Investigative Teams:
1. gather testimonial, documentary, survey and such other forms of evidence and empirical data as it sees fit
2. Undertake an analysis of the evidence, related to rights and standards contained in the University Codes of Conduct, the WRC Code of Conduct, and applicable domestic and international labor law.
3. Undertake to resolve conflicts of evidence and make findings of fact and interpretations of applicable labor rights and standards.
4. formulate Recommendations to any relevant parties about actions necessary to most effectively remedy failures to comply with the labor rights and standards that are the subject of the Investigation.
When violations are identified at a factory, the WRC makes recommendations for remedial steps that the factory needs to take in order to come into compliance with applicable codes of conduct. The WRC works with US apparel companies who are procuring goods from the factory in question to encourage the implementation of these recommendations. When a company is unwilling to press its supplier factory to take the appropriate remedial steps, the WRC will report this to our affiliate schools and the public. At this time, colleges and universities that have a relationship with the company in question may choose to communicate with their licensee and/or take other action as deemed appropriate by each individual institution.
After issuing any remedial Recommendations, the Collaborative Investigative Teams may conduct any of activities mentioned in the process again in order to investigate whether parties are complying or have complied with those Recommendations or have otherwise undertaken effective remedial action.