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Duke re-ups contract with Lands' End

The University announced Tuesday that it renewed its trademark license contract with Lands' End, just one month after the contract was suspended due to complaints about labor practices at a supplier factory in El Salvador.


      Wilkerson notified the Wisconsin-based clothier of the contract suspension in a March 1 letter, citing allegations by the Worker Rights Consortium and the Fair Labor Association that the Primo factory in El Salvador had blacklisted workers who had real or perceived connections to unions. The two organizations had tried during the past year to resolve the issues with the Lands' End, but with little success.


      Lands' End announced April 5 that it had reached an agreement with the FLA and WRC resolving the labor rights concerns in El Salvador--a statement that was corroborated by both the FLA and WRC.


      "What's been put in place is a remediation plan that Lands' End has committed to that, if fully implemented, will bring about a resolution of these issues," Wilkerson said. "They've made those commitments and we have every confidence they will keep them."

Wilkerson noted, however, that the remediation plan will be continually monitored by the FLA and WRC over the next several months to ensure that it is fully implemented.


      As part of the agreement, Lands' End said it would provide assistance--in the form of machinery, cloth and technical instruction--to the Just Garments factory, which offered employment to those workers who were denied employment at the nearby Primo factory due to their real or perceived ties to unions.

The company also agreed to evaluate Just Garments, the first factory in the history of the export apparel industry in El Salvador to sign an accord with a union, as a potential supplier once technical assistance was completed.


      In addition, Lands' End agreed to help ensure against anti-union hiring practices at the Primo factory through monitoring, labor compliance training and communication with the local government and industry officials about the company's commitment to workers' rights of freedom of association.


      "We're hopeful that by implementing those changes in the Primo factory that the same practices will move along to other factories that are run by the same owners," Wilkerson said.


      Chris Mordi, a spokesman for Lands' End, said the company was "glad to have reached a settlement and that we can move forward." He declined to comment on the company's contract with Duke, stating that contract information was confidential.


      Wilkerson said he was pleased with expedition with which the matter was resolved. "I was hopeful it was going to be resolved within 90 days or so," he said. "I am a bit surprised that it occurred this quickly, but I think the intervention by universities helped."

He said several other universities had suspended their contracts with the company in the three to six months prior to Duke's decision.


      Before the Lands' End decision, the last time the University suspended a trademark license contract was in November 2001, when it notified the New Era Cap Company that it would withhold its contract renewal indefinitely due to the company's unresponsiveness to labor concerns. The New Era contract was reinstated in August 2002.

Wilkerson said Lands' End annually sells about $25,000 at retail of merchandise bearing Duke trademarks, offering tote bags and a host of clothing products for men, women and children. He noted that most of this business is transacted online through Lands' End's own website.


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