SLAC Advances Cut JanSport Campaign

Written by Leland Pan

For over the past year, students and community members at UW-Madison have been demanding University administration cut the University’s licensing contract with JanSport.  JanSport’s parent company, VF Corporation, produces apparel in Bangladesh, where thousands of workers have died due to unsafe working conditions, including 1129 workers in the Rana Plaza factory collapse in 2013.  Workers in Bangladesh have organized to create an Accord on Building and Fire Safety to ensure legally binding inspections for factories to prevent such disasters.  VF Corporation refuses to sign on.

Student Labor Action Coalition, a pro-labor campus organization, has led this fight to ensure basic workplace rights for UW apparel producers.  While JanSport itself does not produce in Bangladesh, from a profit and corporate actions standpoint, they are one and the same.  The money JanSport makes off selling Wisconsin clothing goes to the same people that profit off the deaths of workers in Bangladesh.

Rather than listen to students and the campus community, the Chancellor has eliminated the shared governance committee of faculty, staff, and students that is supposed to advise her on licensing actions - a committee that recommended the cutting of the contract.  Instead, Chancellor Blank has flown UW administrators to meet VF Corporation executives.  These same South Carolina executives have also dabbled in writing editorials defending JanSport in local papers, only reinforcing the connection between JanSport and VF Corporation.

Due to these actions and other reports of administrative silencing of dissent, over thirty elected officials, faculty, community and campus leaders have joined Student Labor Action Coalition in submitting a request for information to UW-Madison Chancellor Rebecca Blank, asking for records of communications between apparel manufacturer JanSport and UW-Madison and internal communications about the JanSport.  Additionally, it is signed by Matt Kozlowski, Co-Chair of Progressive Dane, and a number of Progressive Dane elected officials, including Heidi Wegleitner, Rebecca Kemble, and TJ Mertz.  We hope the Chancellor complies with our request instead of protecting corporate interests.

An electronic copy of the request can be found here: SLAC Open Records Request 

--- Open Records Request ---

Chancellor Rebecca Blank and Special Assistant Lisa Hull:

In light of recent reports of administrative silencing of student and community dissent, we, the undersigned, submit the following request for information pursuant to WI Statutes §19.3119.39.

1) Copies of all communications (including email, memoranda and letters), from January 1, 2014 to present, between representatives of VF Corporation and/or subsidiaries of VF Corporation (including, but not limited to, JanSport and VF ImageWear) and the University of Wisconsin-Madison Director of Trademark Licensing Cindy Van Matre. Please include communications that have additional recipients or alternative senders.

2) Copies of all communications (including email, memoranda and letters), from January 1, 2014 to present, between representatives of VF Corporation and/or subsidiaries of VF Corporation (including, but not limited to, JanSport and VF ImageWear) and the University of Wisconsin-Madison Chancellor Rebecca Blank. Please include communications that have additional recipients or alternative senders.

3) Copies of all communications (including email, memoranda and letters), from January 1, 2014 to present, between representatives of VF Corporation and/or subsidiaries of VF Corporation (including, but not limited to, JanSport and VF ImageWear) and the University of Wisconsin-Madison Director of Community Relations Everett Mitchell. Please include communications that have additional recipients or alternative senders.

4) Copies of all communications (including email, memoranda and letters), from June 1, 2014 to present, between representatives of VF Corporation and/or subsidiaries of VF Corporation (including, but not limited to, JanSport and VF ImageWear) and the Chair of the Labor Codes and Licensing Advisory Committee John Ahlquist. Please include communications that have additional recipients or alternative senders.

5) Copies of all communications (including, but not limited to email, memoranda and letters), from November 1, 2013 to present, between University of Madison-Wisconsin Chancellor Blank and University of WisconsinMadison Director of Trademark Licensing Cindy Van Matre. Please include communications that have additional recipients or alternative senders.

6) Copies of all communications (including email, memoranda and letters), from November 1, 2013 to present, between University of Wisconsin-Madison Director of Community Relations Everett Mitchell and University of Wisconsin-Madison Director of Trademark Licensing Cindy Van Matre. Please include communications that have additional recipients or alternative senders.

7) Copies of all email communications, from November 1, 2013 to present, that contain one or more of the terms “LCLCC”, “LCLAC”, “Labor Codes Licensing Compliance Committee”, “Labor Codes and Licensing Advisory Committee”, “SLAC”, “Student Labor Action Coalition”, “VF”, “JanSport”, and/or “Jan Sport”, sent by or received by University of Wisconsin-Madison Chancellor Rebecca Blank, the Director of Trademark Licensing Cindy Van Matre, Director of Community Relations Everett Mitchell, Chair of the LCLAC John Ahlquist, or Chair of the University Committee Jo Ellen Fair. Please include communications that have additional recipients or alternative senders.

8) Copies of all records (including email, memoranda, letters, and financial documents) pertaining to the visit of VF corporation headquarters in North Carolina by University of Wisconsin-Madison Director of Community Relations Everett Mitchell and Chair of the LCLAC John Ahlquist. Please include all communication requesting that the trip be made, the planning of the trip, and all financial information regarding travel and other expenses. Please note: when searching for names, please include names in an email’s “To,” “Cc,” and “From” fields for names that messages may be sent or copied to, as well as received from. Keyword searches should search subject and body content of emails and should not be case sensitive.

Please provide these records in electronic form. Additionally, please provide these records in installments as soon as they become available. If charges are to exceed $50 please contact the Student Labor Action Coalition before processing this request. Wis. Stat. § 19.35(4)(a): open records requests should be responded to “as soon as practicable and without delay.” The WI Department of Justice suggests that most open records requests should be able to be responded to within 10 business days. If this will not be possible please notify the Student Labor Action Coalition with the estimated time required, as suggested by DOJ guidelines.
If you have any clarifying questions about this request and to submit the requested documents, please contact the Student Labor Action Coalition at studentlaboractioncoalition@gmail.com

Sincerely,
Student Labor Action Coalition
Eleni Schirmer, Co-President, Teaching Assistants’ Association
Jason Lee, United Faculty and Academic Staff
Michael Billeaux, CoPresident, Teaching Assistants’ Association
Chad Alan Goldberg, Professor of Sociology, UWMadison
Joseph Conti, Assistant Professor of Sociology and Law, UWMadison
Heidi Wegleitner, Dane County Supervisor, District 2
Leland Pan, Dane County Supervisor, District 5
Rebecca Kemble, Madison Common Council Alder, District 18
TJ Mertz, Madison Metropolitan School District Board of Education, Seat 5
Matt Kozlowski, Cochair, Progressive Dane
Michael Basford, Chair, Democratic Party of Dane County
Rabbi Renee Bauer, Director, Interfaith Coalition for Worker Justice
Sister Maureen McDonnell O.P., Co-chair, Interfaith Coalition for Worker Justice
Isaac Loegering, Cochair, UW Ten Percent Society
Jenny Tasse, Chair, UW-Madison College Democrats
Jourden Schultz, Co-chair, UW Ten Percent Society
Chet Agni, Vicechair, UW-Madison College Democrats
Danny Levandoski, Data Director, UW-Madison College Democrats
Natalie Halbrooks, Digital Director, UW-Madison College Democrats
Clara Hoff, Treasurer, UW-Madison College Democrats
Morgan Rae, Shared Governance Chair, 21st Associated Students of Madison (ASM) Council
Sreedevi Nair, Chief Justice, ASM Student Judiciary
Al Schultz, ASM Council Representative and Secretary
Angelito Tenorio, ASM Council Representative and University Affairs Chair
August McGinnityWake, ASM Council Representative and Sustainability Chair
Garrett Pauli, ASM Council Representative
Hoyon Mephokee, ASM Council Representative
Samuel Park, ASM Council Representative
Jennifer Epps-Addison, Executive Director, Wisconsin Jobs Now
Julia Wang, International Campaigns Coordinator, United Students Against Sweatshops
Mark Westphal, President, Fox Valley Labor Council