Unfair Labor Practice and Apparel Companies

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Research Working Paper
Can Factory List Disclosure Improve Labor Practices in the Apparel Industry?: A Case Study of Nike and Levi-Strauss

David J. Doorey SAS-HR2008-01-Doorey www.atkinson.yorku.ca/Research

Can Factory List Disclosure Improve Labor Practices in the Apparel Industry?: A Case Study of Nike and Levi-Strauss1

David J. Doorey* York University 4700 Keele Street Toronto, ON M3J 1P3

* Assistant Professor, York University, Toronto. This research is generously supported by a Research Fellowship from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada and the Helena Orton Memorial Fellowship of Osgoode Hall Law School. This paper was presented at the CRIMT Conference, “What Policies for a Global Era?”, HEC Montreal, 2007. 1

This paper draws on interviews with Michael Kobori, Vice President Corporate Code of Conduct, LeviStrauss at his office in San Francisco in 2006 and Caitlin Morris, Director of Engagement and Integration, Labor Compliance Department, Nike, at Nike’s Headquarters’ in Beaverton, Oregon in 2006, as well as discussions and/or e-mail communications with: Neil Kearney, General Secretary, International Textile, Garment, and Leather Workers’ Federation in Toronto, 2006; Bob Jeffcott and Lynda Yanz of the Maquila Solidarity Network, in Toronto, 2005 and 2006; Harvey Chan, Director, Ethical Sourcing, Mountain Equipment Co-op, in Toronto, 2007; and Patrick Neyts, VECTRA International, in Toronto, 2007.

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Information disclosure regulation is experiencing a renaissance. This development parallels, indeed is part of, a more general interest in so-called “post modern” regulatory approaches to governance that concentrate on the role of the state and regulation as a facilitator of the development of normative standards of conduct by private actors. regulation, or “new governance” and “third way” Appearing under regulation, these monikers such as “responsive”, “reflexive”, “out-sourced” and “decentered” approaches to regulation share an emphasis on the norm creating potential of private interactions—negotiations, conflicts, and compromises—between businesses and various state and non-state unions, actors, including nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), shareholders, consumer

groups, religious-based organization, and other civil society organizations.2 Information disclosure regulation is an important tool in this approach to governance because it aims to influence private behavior indirectly, but towards the attainment of state-desired outcomes. Disclosure regulation can inject new risks, like a virus, into management decision-making processes in the expectation that corporate leaders will seek to manage that risk in ways the state believes will further its policy objectives. Regulatory examples abound: disclosure of toxic emissions will cause companies to reduce emissions3; disclosure of executive salaries will cause compensation committees to impose salaries that are reasonable and fair4; disclosure of racial and gender percentages of 2

This literature is discussed in greater detail in: David J. Doorey, Who Made That?: Influencing Foreign Labour Practices Through Domestic Disclosure Regulation, 43 O SGOODE HALL L.J. 353 (2005). See also Julia Black, Decentring Regulation: Understanding the Role of Regulation and Self-Regulation in a ‘Post-Regulatory’ World, 53 Curr. Legal Probs. 103 (2001); Orel Lobel, The Renew Deal: The Fall of Regulation and the Rise of Governance in Contemporary Legal Thought, 89 Minn. L. Rev. 342 (2004). 3

See the Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act, 42 U.S.C. §§ 11001-50 (2005); William Pederson, Regulation and Information Disclosure: Parallel Universes and Beyond , 25 HARV. ENVTL. L. REV. 151, 151 (2001); M. Stephan, Environmental Information Disclosure Programs: They Work, But Why?, 83 Soc. Sci. Q. 190 (2002); R. PERCIVAL ET AL., ENVIRONMENTAL REGULATION: LAW, SCIENCE, AND POLICY 624 (2nd ed. Little Brown & Co 1996) (the theory...
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