Committee Asks GU to Cut Adidas
Decision to dissolve apparel contract now rests with DeGioia
Published: Tuesday, October 16, 2012
Updated: Tuesday, October 16, 2012 13:10
The Licensing Oversight Committee unanimously recommended that the university terminate its contract with Adidas by Dec. 15 due to the company’s violation of Georgetown’s Code of Conduct for Licensees.
According to Scott Fleming, associate vice president for federal relations, the vote took place last Wednesday following months of deliberation. The committee made a formal recommendation to the Office of the President later that week.
Georgetown is a founding affiliate of the Worker Rights Consortium, which issued a report in January alleging that the sportswear company failed to pay $1.8 million in severance fees to employees after one of its manufacturing plants in Indonesia, PT Kizone, was shut down.
After the release of the report, LOC members sent a letter to Adidas and met with company representative Gregg Nebel in April.
According to LOC member Natalia Margolis (SFS ’13), Nebel said at the meeting that his company would not bend to pressure from outside groups.
“He made it clear that Adidas had no intention of paying the severance. He presented all the tools to support the workers by doing things like giving them food vouchers and helping with job placement, but he admitted that it wasn’t working,” she said. “To say, ‘We’re not going to pay you the money you’re owed, and we’re going to pay you in these food vouchers or other alternatives,’ is against the law.”
Students at Cornell University and the University of Wisconsin-Madison, have also expressed concern about their schools’ contracts with Adidas and Cornell terminated its contract with Adidas on Sept. 13, according to an article published in Cornell’s in-house weekly newspaper, Cornell Chronicle, on Sept. 17.
The LOC was unable to meet to make a decision until last Wednesday because of scheduling conflicts among its members, which include students, staff and faculty.
Fleming indicated that some members felt the relatively small size of the university’s contract with Adidas would render the termination irrelevant, but he also said that the size of the contract was not a major stumbling block in passing the recommendation.
Margolis said that money should not be a factor in the decision.
“While it might not make a huge impact financially for Adidas, I think the fact that Georgetown is making the stance that we care might make an impact for other universities,” Margolis said. “It makes a huge moral statement.”
An online petition created by the Georgetown Solidarity Committee through change.org, which called for the university to sever its contract with Adidas, played a role in the decision. According to GSC member Julia Hubbell (COL ’15), the petition garnered 172 signatures between its launch on Sept. 18 and its submission to the LOC last week.
“Certainly, the petition was a factor in the LOC’s discussions,” Fleming wrote in an email. “The committee considered a variety of comments and perspectives throughout the time that the matter was before the committee since last academic year.”
Though University President John J. DeGioia will have the final say in cutting ties with Adidas, Hubbell said that she expects the committee’s actions to weigh heavily on his decision.
“It is just an advisory body, but the LOC recommendations are taken very seriously,” she said. “Up until Dec. 15 we are going to continue talking to admins from the student perspective and make sure the action is completed.”
Fleming also expressed confidence that the university will follow through on the LOC’s suggestion.
“The disposition of our recommendation rests with the university administration, and I can tell you that it is actively under consideration,” he wrote. “I would expect a decision in the not-too-distant future.”