After months of meetings between the University administration and students who hope to terminate the University’s contract with Morgan Linen Services, University President Mary Sue Coleman proposed yesterday to form a taskforce to promote “ethical purchasing.”

Members of Students Organizing for Labor and Economic Equality said Morgan, a laundry service used by the University, treats its workers unfairly.

University spokeswoman Julie Peterson said while Coleman did not commit to terminating the contract with Morgan, the president will give more details on the taskforce and the contract tomorrow.

SOLE members who met with Coleman and General Counsel Marvin Krislov yesterday said Coleman will write a letter to Morgan to ask the company to address labor relation problems and to consider the possibility that the University will not renew its contract.

SOLE member Molly Hegarty said she hopes the taskforce is effective once implemented.

“Although we still need to work out how the taskforce will exactly work, it will be a student and faculty taskforce to look at language in a possible code of conduct for University subcontracts,” Hegarty said. “But since Coleman proposed this taskforce, her brainstorming to find a solution is commendable.”

SOLE has pressured the administration to cut its contract since October, when the group was approached by workers of the laundry service based in Toledo.

The University sends laundry to Morgan from the Martha Cook Building and from the Executive Residence of the Business School.

Karen Burnett – international representative of the United Needletrade, Industrial and Textile Employees – said it will be a positive statement for workers if the University cuts their contract with Morgan.

“Workers work in hot, nasty conditions. If the University pulls its contract, it will give a statement that they care about the workers,” Burnett said.

Peterson said the meeting was productive with good exchange of information.

“There were no specifics agreed on but Coleman will be working on the details over the next couple of days and plans on giving more information soon,” Peterson said.

SOLE member Mike Swiryn said the University has enough leverage on Morgan and other companies to change how they treat workers.

“The University has tremendous power as an prestigious institution and a consumer to influence companies. This taskforce would potentially be on the cutting edge as an institution promoting more ethical purchasing policies,” Swiryn said.

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