A recent decision by the Department of Justice will allow universities to monitor labor conditions in factories producing school apparel.

Schools that are members of the Designated Suppliers Program, which was approved in December, will work to develop licensing terms that reflect fair labor standards. All apparel produced in the plants that accept the terms will contain a label that clearly outlines the workers’ labor conditions.

The program will largely mirror Georgetown’s relationship with Alta Gracia, an apparel line that uses a Dominican factory that pays its employees three times more than the minimum wage in the Dominican Republic, where the factory is located.

“The goal of this project is to create workable means so that a factory can operate while providing safe working conditions, the right to organize and a living wage, so the workers can make it in life and the factory can still be viable,” said Scott Fleming, Associate Vice President for Federal Relations and Public Affairs and interim chair of Georgetown’s Licensing Oversight Committee.

Fleming hopes the program will inspire the creation of more factories like Alta Gracia.

“I can’t help but believe that hopefully there is some way that having the DSP may help the financial viability of Alta Gracia,” he said.

The push was spearheaded by the Worker Rights Consortium, of which Georgetown was a founding member. The group was founded in 2000 in response to student and university requests that school apparel be made free of sweatshop labor and includes more than 180 colleges, universities and high schools.

Through the committee, the university has worked to ensure Georgetown apparel is made without sweatshop labor and has aided the WRC in gaining approval for the new program.

Though the Justice Department’s Antitrust Division concluded that the proposed program follows U.S. antitrust law, the WRC cannot demand general licensing standards.

Instead, the program aims to offer something like a Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval to factories that uphold a school’s designated labor standards, according to Fleming.

The WRC will be responsible for monitoring factories that participate in the program and reporting conditions to the member schools, a process that is supposed to foster an open dialogue between the consumers, companies and workers.

Fleming said that he isn’t sure what the Designated Suppliers Program’s effect will be on the Georgetown University Bookstore, which already sells Alta Gracia products.

He admits that the success of the program depends on consumers’ willingness to purchase materials from these factories.

“We are here because the consumers of these products want this, and they are the ones who have gotten universities to establish these policies,” he said.

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