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UofL Cuts Ties With Clothing Maker JanSport, Effective In June

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The University of Louisville will not renew it's contract with clothing maker JanSport.

The decision comes after months of protest by a student group, Cards United Against Sweatshops, that has adamantly called for the contract to be severed. Students with the group say the University's contract with JanSport contributes to the mistreatment of workers in Bangladesh.

The issue comes from the failure of Jansport's parent company, VF, to sign the Bangladesh Accord on Fire and Building Safety, which makes clear provisions companies must adhere to in order to ensure worker safety.

Cards United Against Sweatshop's co-president Rebecca Peek said the students are "elated" at the announcement from the University.

"Of course, we would have liked it to happen sooner, but you know, the fact is that it happened, it's a win for everyone," she said.

Peek said she hopes UofL's decision to cut ties with JanSport will lead to the University of Kentucky doing the same thing. UK currently has a contract with the company.

UofL Dean of Students Michael Madris said the decision to cut ties is not "based on any one factor."

The contract is managed by Collegiate Licensing Company, he said. Earlier this year, CLC sent out a Request for Proposal for licensees who would source apparel and JanSport was not included on that list of potential companies.

"The RFP requested information about several business factors, including financials, workers rights practices, products, design, capabilities of the company, among others," he said.

One stipulation of the RFP, which was issued in March of this year, was that any potential licensee must sign the Accord for Fire and Building Safety, according to information provided by UofL.

Based on the information attained, JanSport was not selected, Madris said.

The contract with JanSport will officially end in June. University officials were unaware of the financial specifics of the current contract.

Madris credited Cards United Against Sweatshops for bringing awareness to the issue.

 

Jacob Ryan joined LPM in 2014. Ryan is originally from Eddyville, Kentucky. Email Jacob at jryan@lpm.org.