The Daily Tar Heel
Printing news. Raising hell. Since 1893.
Friday, Feb. 23, 2024 Newsletters Latest print issue

We keep you informed.

Help us keep going. Donate Today.
The Daily Tar Heel

Student Action with Workers, UNC still don’t see eye to eye

Although UNC representatives said the meeting was not between SAW and the chancellor, Folt was present alongside four other administrators to discuss the licensing of UNC-logoed apparel.

“We reiterated the University’s decision to require licensees that make UNC-logoed apparel in Bangladesh to sign the Accord,” Matt Fajack, the vice chancellor for finance and administration, said in a statement.

The University announced on Feb. 5 that it would require all licensees that produce UNC apparel to sign the Accord on Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh.

For several months, SAW has been asking UNC to cut ties with the VF Corporation, which has not signed the Accord on Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh, but instead formed the Alliance for Bangladesh Worker Safety and moved its manufacture of UNC apparel outside of Bangladesh.

Fajack said the University is reconstituting and recharging the Licensing Labor Code Advisory Committee to help instruct how UNC monitors and works with licensees moving forward.

But SAW member Richard Lindayen said the group worked through the committee for approximately six months at the beginning of fall 2013, and the experience wasn’t positive.

“This is something we’ve already worked through,” Lindayen said. “They’re putting forward to the committee what appears to be the same sort of question — the question of Accord versus Alliance, cut VF versus don’t cut VF.”

Lindayen said the Alliance was more a method of avoidance than a step toward safer conditions. He said 16 universities have cut ties with VF Corp.

At the Wednesday meeting, SAW called for UNC to follow suit.

“We went in there wanting (Folt) to cut VF,” said Ebony Watkins, a member of SAW. “I don’t think their initial response was as sympathetic as I had hoped.”

Both Watkins and Lindayen said while they were happy to meet with Folt, the meeting didn’t take SAW where the group wanted to go.

“At the end of the day, there are too many unknowns to be satisfied with the meeting,” Lindayen said.

He said while the issue of worker safety is urgent, Folt has slowed the process, taking months to respond to SAW’s request for a meeting.

Lindayen said at Wednesday’s meeting, Folt promised to meet with the student group again in four to five weeks.

“We’re really worried that she is just trying to bog this down in bureaucracy,” Lindayen said. “There’s reason enough to cut VF. And she wants more, but I don’t think she’s going to find more.”

To get the day's news and headlines in your inbox each morning, sign up for our email newsletters.