The University of Wisconsin at Madison, which has a licensing agreement with Adidas worth $1.2-million a year through 2011, doesn’t plan to cut its ties to the athletic-apparel company over reports of worker-rights abuses at one of Adidas’s former subcontractors — despite a recent recommendation to do so by its own labor licensing policy committee.
Instead, the university plans to meet with Adidas executives and send an envoy to El Salvador, where the now-closed plant is located, to investigate workers’ claims and recommend what the university should do.“I am prepared to pursue my very grave concern about what has happened with the Hermosa facility directly to the senior management of Adidas,” Wisconsin’s chancellor, John D. Wiley, said in a written statement.
According to the university, Hermosa Manufacturing produced apparel for Adidas from 2000 to 2002. When the plant closed, in 2005, it didn’t pay 260 workers $825,000 they were owed in back pay or severance. In addition, it may have put some unionized workers on a “black list” in retribution for their labor activism.
As part of its agreement with the university to provide uniforms and athletic equipment, Adidas must abide by a code of conduct on how it must treat workers. The university is also allowed to view the company’s books and internal documents to get information about its labor and human-rights practices.