This is a guest post by Kathryn “Kitty” Higgins, to commemorate the 15th anniversary of the convening of the Apparel Industry Partnership – which has evolved into the Fair Labor Association. Ms. Higgins served as Deputy Secretary for the U.S. Department of Labor and is currently Chair of the Fair Labor Association Board of Directors.
Understanding workers’ perception of the factories they work in is essential for management seeking to recruit and retain talented and qualified employees. The Fair Labor Association’s SCOPE Workers’ Surveys are standardized, quantitative questionnaires which are completed anonymously by a randomly-selected, representative sample of workers. SCOPE surveys measure the effectiveness and impact of factories’ social compliance efforts in areas such as hours of work; hiring; communication; and grievance and complaint systems.
This is a guest post from FLA Participating Company, Patagonia. It was written by Vincent Stanley, co-author with Yvon Chouinard of The Responsible Company, to be published August 2012.
Bill McKibben made an interesting point a few years back when he compared the yields of factory farming and organic or low-input farming. Factory farming (with subsidies) yields more dollars per acre but an organic field yields more food.
Issues: During a 2009 factory visit, FLA assessors found that foreign staff at a factory producing apparel for adidas Group and Nike, Inc. lacked required legal work permits. In addition, some printing department workers, who neither asked to leave nor signed a withdrawal notice, were compelled to leave the union without their consent. The union leader said most printing department workers did not wish to be involved in the union; therefore, they decided to drop these workers from the roster and stopped collecting their dues.
Issues: A 2009 FLA assessment uncovered that some of the more than 400 workers at a factory supplying DVDs and CDs for Electronic Arts, Inc. were not using earplugs and eye protection in work areas where they were mandatory. In addition, deductions from pay for workers’ savings plans exceeded the legal 30 percent limit.
Issues: During a 2008 independent external monitoring visit, FLA monitors discovered that the disciplinary system in a factory producing men's shirts and ladies' wear for Liz Claiborne, Inc. did not give its 3,475 workers the opportunity to reply, challenge or make appeals against termination. Also, there was inadequate aisle space in the fusing area of one of the buildings, which did not allow workers to have free body movement.