Monday will mark a victory for Students Organizing for Labor and
Economic Equality if the University administration agrees to
require wage disclosure for companies that make University
apparel.

University President Mary Sue Coleman said yesterday that she
will update SOLE and the University’s Advisory Committee on
Labor Standards and Human Rights after she meets with her executive
board Monday.

The board includes Provost Paul Courant and Vice President for
Student Affairs E. Royster Harper and 11 other members. They will
make the final decision on whether to concur with the
committee’s request to release wage information for factory
workers who make products for University-contracted companies.

SOLE first presented the issue to the Coleman in February and
then to the committee in early March.

The committee unanimously voted Wednesday morning to recommend
that the University require companies to present it with documented
accounts of how much they pay workers. They said part of their
reasoning is that not all companies would volunteer such
information.

The committee also suggested that the University discuss with
its licensees, the Collegiate Licensing Company, the Workers’
Rights Consortium and the Fair Labor Association on the best method
to collect wage data as well as develop a systematic way to deal
with noncompliant licensees.

In an email to the committee, University President Mary Sue
Coleman said she “commends the members of the committee for
their diligence, thoughtfulness and dedication.”

Committee chair Sioban Harlow said she is pleased with
Coleman’s rapid reply.

“She clearly takes the issue seriously, and I look forward
to her response,” Harlow said.

SOLE member Diana Parker emphasized how much effort SOLE has put
into bringing attention to the issue.

“Wage disclosure has been one of our two major campaigns
this semester,” she said. The other main project has been to
support LEO negotiations with the University.

The advisory committee will meet again April 16 to determine
their next step, depending on how the administration responds. The
committee plans to continue working with the University on the
issue regardless of the board’s final decision.

SOLE members said they will hold a rally that day to increase
student awareness on the issue.

“We’re going to have to step up the pressure and
prove to the executive board that students support wage
disclosure,” SOLE member Marlowe Coolican said.

SOLE hopes to increase corporate transparency and accountability
to constituents, such as University students, and eventually try to
encourage the University community to be more concerned with
workers’ rights, Coolican said.

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