UW-Madison Chancellor leans toward Adidas in contract violation - WKOW 27: Madison, WI Breaking News, Weather and Sports

UW-Madison Chancellor leans toward finding Adidas in contract violation

MADISON (WKOW) -- UW-Madison Chancellor David Ward indicated he believes Adidas has violated the terms of its agreement with the school in connection with the treatment of unpaid factory workers and will discuss the school's options with other university leaders.

A UW official told members of the university's Labor Licensing Policy Committee on Friday Ward was "inclined" to believe Adidas had a committed a material breach of its contract with UW-Madison.

Committee members approved a resolution urging the chancellor to give Adidas 90-day notice of the termination of the contract.

The Workers Rights Consortium found 2,700 workers at an Indonesian factory were not paid a total of nearly $2 million dollars in wages. The workers produced UW apparel for Adidas. Adidas officials said it satisfied the terms of its contract with UW by severing ties with the factory and has no legal responsibility to provide worker severance pay.

Some committee members said Adidas' action to "cut and run" from the factory situation did not satisfy licensing contract terms, and disputed Adidas' stance it immediately severed factory ties when the failure to pay workers was uncovered.

In addition to a licensing agreement to produce UW apparel, Adidas has a sponsorship arrangement with UW Athletics to provide teams with uniforms and other goods. Associate Vice Chancellor Vince Sweeney said the sponsorship's value is nearly $3 million annually. Sweeney said if the unresolved labor issues lead to a termination of contracts with Adidas, it would result in financial and logistical hardships for the athletics program, and an end to contract-required contributions to academic aid. Sweeney said it's hoped a compromise could be found with Adidas to keep the contract intact and help the displaced workers.

Student advocates said Indonesian workers waiting for pay for months have experienced hardships, including food shortages and interrupted education for family members.  

Committee members said they appealed to several other major universities with ties to Adidas to join UW in urging the company to help the displaced, unpaid workers, but only heard back from a University of Michigan official.

Sweeney said UW's approach to the continuing issue with Adidas may be finalized next week.

Click here to read Chancellor Ward's letter to the Labor Licensing Policy Committee.

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MADISON (WKOW) -- During a meeting of the UW's Labor Licensing Policy Committee, UW-Madison's interim Chancellor David Ward says he is "inclined to believe" that Adidas is in breach of their contract with the university.

Questions regarding the contract came up recently when it was discovered that workers rights had been violated at one of the company's Indonesian factories.

Adidas currently makes UW-Madison equipment and apparel. The Labor Licensing Policy Committee has recommended cutting ties with the company over these recent worker rights violation accusations.

Stay with WKOW.com and 27 News for more on this developing story.

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