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Duke to Buy $250,000 in "Sweat-Free" Apparel

According to Inside Higher Ed, Duke Stores has agreed to purchase $250,000 in sweatshop free labor from Knights Apparel, a collegiate garment company. Although not yet public, reports have surfaced of an agreement between Knights Apparel and Grupo N, a large garment export group in the Dominican Republic, to provide workers with "exemplary labor conditions". Under the proposed agreement, Knights Apparel will pay a higher price for its garments from the factory in the Dominican Republic as long as its workers receive a "living wage" and have the freedom to unionize. While the cost of these increased labor conditions will be passed on to the consumer, retailers only expect garments prices to increase by a couple of dollars.

The Workers Rights Consortium, which has been working on the deal for over a year, will ensure that the labor standards are met. According to an e-mail obtained by The Chronicle that was sent to university officials from the Workers Right Consortium:

"This will be the first apparel export facility in the developing world where workers will earn a verified living wage. This wage will be more than three times the prevailing wage for apparel workers in the Dominican Republic. It will, we anticipate, be part of a collective bargaining agreement negotiated with a representative union. This will also be the first time an apparel brand has agreed to re-structure a supply chain relationship in order to facilitate progress on labor rights. These are historic breakthroughs."

The Workers Rights Consortium was unable to comment on the specifics of the deal because it has not yet been finalized.

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