NYU has decided not to place any new orders of merchandise produced by JanSport until and unless JanSport and its parent company, VF Corporation, agree to sign the Accord on Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh, which is aimed at making Bangladesh factories safe workplaces.
If the University determines that it is unlikely that either JanSport or VF Corporation will sign the Accord by the end of the summer, NYU is prepared to cancel its licenses with JanSport by the start of the fall semester.
Last December, the NYU University Senate recommended that NYU require its apparel licensees sign the Accord, which is designed to improve workplace safety and protect lives in Bangladesh. The University immediately implemented the Senate recommendation and has required that all of its apparel licensees that do business in Bangladesh sign the Accord.
NYU did not at that time ask JanSport, an NYU licensee, to sign the Accord since it does not produce apparel in Bangladesh. However, JanSport’s parent company, VF Corporation, does produce apparel in Bangladesh and has up until now refused to sign the Accord.
“After consulting with other universities and the Worker Rights Consortium, an independent labor rights monitoring group that provides guidance to universities on these types of issues, it has become clear to the University that while in some respects JanSport and VF operate as separate companies, with regard to labor issues and practices, they act as one company,” said Lynne Brown, Senior Vice President for University Relations and Public Affairs.
“VF has a single labor rights compliance program, covering all production globally, under all brand names. Although NYU holds a license with JanSport, not VF, and JanSport does not manufacture in Bangladesh, we believe that their labor compliance structure is such that it is appropriate to ask both JanSport and VF Corporation to sign the Accord.
“We wish to thank the input we received on this issue from the Student Labor and Action Movement (SLAM), as well as other engaged student groups and faculty, as the University considered its course of action on this important issue. Through this action, NYU remains in the lead of ensuring compliance with the high standards for working conditions in the supply chain that produces collegiate-licensed apparel.”
The Accord has already been signed by more than 100 apparel corporations, including nine NYU licensees.
More than 3.5 million people are employed in the Bangladesh garment industry. The industry has suffered several major factory fires and building collapses in the past year, most notably the Rana Plaza building collapse in April, 2013, that took the lives of 1,132 workers.
Founded in 1831, NYU is one of the world’s foremost research universities and is a member of the selective Association of American Universities. NYU has degree-granting campuses in New York, Abu Dhabi, and Shanghai, and has eleven other global academic sites around the world. More NYU students study internationally than any other university, according to the Open Doors Report by the Institute of International Education, and NYU ranks third in the United States for the number of foreign students enrolled. Through its numerous schools and colleges, NYU conducts research and provides education in the arts and sciences, law, medicine, business, dentistry, education, nursing, the cinematic and performing arts, music and studio arts, public administration, engineering, social work, cities, global public health, big data, and continuing and professional studies, among other areas.