To: John Tomasi, Luc Morris, Nicholas Reville, David Moore, Lawrence Carr, Yolanda Lamboy

From: E. Gordon Gee

Re: Code of Conduct Committee Report & Recommendations

Date: October 18, 1999


Thank you for your thoughtful report of October 15th. I appreciate the time and effort that each of you have committed to this important task, and I am very pleased that the work of the committee is underway. As you know, this is an important issue to me, and one in which Brown has demonstrated national leadership. I expect that to continue, and the committee will be an essential element of our success.

There are two issues presented to me for decision by your report. One is whether Brown should remain as a member of the Fair Labor Association (FLA), and the other is whether Brown should join the Worker Rights Consortium (WRC). The recommendation of the committee is that Brown should continue supporting the efforts being made by the FLA and should consider supporting the WRC also. Although I endorse this recommendation and adopt it as the position of the University, I do so with some important qualifications.

It should be very clear to everyone that I do not find the progress made to date by the FLA to be satisfactory. The fact that they have not fully complied with the principles we announced on April 21, 1999 troubles me. However, I was moved by the arguments Pharis Harvey made during the course of his visit to Brown last week. As you state in your report, Mr. Harvey firmly believes “that the FLA is a credible (albeit still imperfect) system.” I value Mr. Harvey’s opinion and would agree with his view on this matter. Thus, for the time being, Brown will remain a fully committed member of the FLA.

After careful review of the proposed Worker Rights Consortium, I find myself intrigued by the possibilities it offers. I concur with some of our students who argue that monitoring would benefit from a degree of competition, and I believe that more rather than less efforts to improve this pervasive international problem are better. Accordingly, I am willing to have Brown join the Worker Rights Consortium as a founding member. However, the University will remain a member only if it becomes clear, through the further development of the consortium and the FLA, that the two organizations can operate in a complementary fashion. It is Brown’s position that both organizations can be effective and productive, especially if they work together, and I will look to the leadership of the WRC and the FLA to make this happen. Furthermore, Brown will closely review our relationships with both organizations and their performance. Should it ever become necessary for Brown to choose between the FLA or the WRC, we will choose the organization that makes the greater effort to work collaboratively with the other and that better preserves Brown’s ability to make choices that protect the workers’ rights in accordance with our Code of Conduct.

What should not be lost in our national discussion of these issues are the rights of the workers that make the apparel bearing the Brown logo. I urge all students, administrators and faculty, to work together on policies and practices that will achieve the goal of protecting those rights. Collaborative efforts to do so will be much more effective than adversarial positioning.

Other documents:

99-037  News Release announcing FLA/RWC decision
99-037r Advisory Committee's report to President Gee