Full Remediation of University Code of Conduct Violations at Mex Mode (Atlixco, Mexico)

To:WRC Affiliate Universities and Colleges
From:Tara Mathur and Ben Hensler
Date:January 17, 2024
Re:Full Remediation of University Code of Conduct Violations at Mex Mode (Atlixco, Mexico)

We are sharing with you an update to the WRC’s October 2022 report on violations of workers’ right to freedom of association at Mex Mode, a garment factory in Atlixco, Mexico, which is disclosed as a supplier of collegiate apparel to the licensees, Fanatics and Lakeshirts. Fanatics and Lakeshirts have informed the WRC that, for reasons unrelated to labor rights compliance, they no longer source from the factory. However, as discussed in this update, both licensees engaged with the factory management to help ensure full remediation of the university code of conduct violations was achieved.
The WRC’s October 2022 report had found that Mex Mode violated workers’ right to freedom of association by threatening workers for participating in a newly formed independent union at the factory, refusing to recognize that union as the representative of the workers who joined it, and failing to comply with requests from workers to discontinue taking union dues from their pay for an incumbent union that they did not wish to be a part of.
The WRC engaged extensively with not only Fanatics and Lakeshirts but also Carhartt, which sources non-collegiate apparel from the factory, to seek remediation of these violations. However, at the time the WRC’s October 2022 report was issued, these violations had been only partially remedied.
After issuing our report, the WRC continued to monitor efforts to secure the factory’s compliance with Mexican labor law and university and buyer codes of conduct. Interviews with factory workers have confirmed that, since our October 2022 report was published, the violations that the WRC’s investigation found have been substantially remedied.
As our new update details, the WRC, buyers, the factory management, and the newly formed union worked together to secure and implement additional corrective actions to bring the factory into substantial compliance with university code of conduct standards on freedom of association. Specifically, the factory has: (1) issued statements to the workforce committing to full respect for freedom of association, nonretaliation for union activities, and voluntary union dues deductions; (2) refunded workers for previous involuntary dues deductions from their pay for the incumbent union; (3) respected workers’ right to be represented by the new independent union; and (4) participated in labor-management dialogue with the new union to resolve workplace disputes.   
The improvement in the factory’s environment for freedom of association is noteworthy for two reasons: first, Mexico’s current government has committed to reforming its traditional labor relations system, in which attempts by workers to join unions that were independent of the former ruling political party were routinely suppressed, often with violence. It is meaningful that, in the country’s sizeable export garment manufacturing sector, it is a factory that produced university licensed goods which is now in the forefront of realizing these reforms.
Second, the Mex Mode factory (which, under its former name, Kukdong Mexico, previously supplied collegiate apparel to Nike and Reebok) was the site, more than 20 years ago, of the WRC’s first factory investigation, which established key precedents for the responsibility of licensees to fully remediate university code of conduct violations. These precedents remain crucial for protecting the rights of workers at not only this factory but factories around the world making university goods, to this day.
The WRC will continue to monitor freedom of association and other labor rights standards at Mex Mode to ensure that the important progress achieved for workers at this factory is maintained. As always please let us know if you have any questions or concerns.