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Annual Report of the Committee on Manufacturer Responsibility

The following was sent on May 26, 2005 to President Amy Gutmann from Dr. Gregory Possehl, Chair of the Committee on Manufacturer Responsibility (CMR) in accordance with the Code of Workplace Conduct for University of Pennsylvania Apparel Licensees. As outlined in the Code, the CMR will review the Code annually; review the effectiveness of monitoring, review the state of compliance of the apparel licensees and review any alleged violations of the Code.

This is a report on the activities of the Committee on Manufacturer Responsibility (CMR) for 2004-2005. This is the fifth year that the committee has been operating under the University’s Code of Workplace Conduct (the Code) for manufacturers licensed to provide apparel with the Penn logo or identification. We held our four meetings as required by the Code.

Business Services has sent our Licensee Compliance Questionnaire (LCQ) to all 37 of our vendors. The majority of the vendors returned complete questionnaires. Those that returned incomplete questionnaires submitted letters explaining why they were not currently in compliance and explaining their plans and timeline to update their status. All of the vendors who have responded to the questionnaire this year were reviewed by staff and no problems were identified that needed to be brought before the Committee. It is fair to say that they are in compliance with our Code. The LCQ goes out to vendors on a timetable and there are a few responses that have not yet been received because of this schedule. The committee will discuss these vendors and their LCQs at the first meeting of the 2005-2006 academic year in September or October. 

This year, we had the services of work-study student Ms. Tiffany Johnson, a senior from Wharton. She was able to continue our process of benchmarking Penn’s efforts at monitoring workplace conditions as compared to other Colleges and Universities. We lost Tiffany’s services in the spring due to her school commitments, but will replace her in the fall.

The Committee on Manufacturer Responsibility was created as a part of the implementation of our Code. It states that two voting seats will be reserved for an organization called “Penn Students Against Sweatshops” (PSAS), or its successor. We learned in the fall that PSAS is not an active organization.  Since they were an important part of the Code, and our institution’s stand against sweatshop labor, we spent most of the fall verifying that PSAS is in fact no longer a viable group. As there was no stated successor organization, we approached the Civic House Associates Coalition as an organization with interests that would parallel those of PSAS. They sent Ms. Danielle Siegel to our two spring semester meetings.

As a part of her engagement with the CMR, Ms. Siegel approached the Civic House Associates Coalition Executive Committee on our behalf asking that they provide the two student representatives that we need to stay within our Code. They have agreed to do this, and thus will be considered the successor organization to PSAS.

The major issue we faced this year is the application by Nike to become a Penn apparel licensee.  While they meet our compliance requirements, Nike as you know has a “reputation” in some quarters, especially among young adults.  This issue was virtually the only agenda item for our two spring semester meetings, and is not yet resolved.  Next year’s committee will have to take up this matter in the fall.

I would like to close with a word of thanks to the Committee on Manufacturer  Responsibility.  For the most part they proved to be good, hardworking representatives of the Penn family, and it was my pleasure to be their Chair.

–Gregory L. Possehl, Chair,
Committee on Manufacturer Responsibility,
Professor of Anthropology


  Almanac, Vol. 52, No. 18, January 17, 2006


January 17, 2006
Volume 52 Number 18


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