New Report: All-Sportz Apparel (Dominican Republic)

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To:WRC Affiliate Universities and Colleges
From:Ben Hensler and Tara Mathur
Date:March 4, 2020
Re:New Report: All-Sportz Apparel (Dominican Republic)

Please find here a new report concerning violations of freedom of association at the All-Sportz Apparel (“All-Sportz”) factory in the Dominican Republic, which is a supplier of collegiate goods to the university licensee Varsity Brands (“Varsity”), as well as the remedial steps that All-Sportz has committed to take, following engagement by the WRC with both Varsity and the factory’s owner, to correct these violations and comply with university codes of conduct.

All-Sportz employs approximately 600 workers. Last year, the WRC initiated an investigation of freedom of association violations at the factory in response to a complaint from workers who had recently established a “Union Formation Committee”, which, under Dominican law, is a precursor body to a factory-level union. The WRC contacted All-Sportz concerning the workers’ complaint but did not receive a response until after the WRC reached out to Varsity, the university licensee. Subsequently, All-Sportz did engage directly with the WRC and, ultimately, committed to take the measures necessary to correct violations of workers’ freedom of association rights.

As discussed in this report, the WRC found the following violations of workers’ right to freedom of association under university codes of conduct at the All-Sportz factory:

  • Threats of retaliatory termination, blacklisting, violence, and plant closure;
  • Financial penalties for several workers and discriminatorily firing one other employee for engaging in associational activities;
  • Physical and social isolation of several workers from other employees in order to suppress the exercise of freedom of association; and
  • Interference with freedom of association at the factory by paying and permitting non-union employees to engage in anti-union activities on company time.

Each of these findings is reviewed in detail in our report, which also discussed the commitments that the factory has made, at the WRC’s recommendation, to remedy these violations. All-Sportz has committed to:

  • Issue and post an announcement that the company respects the right of workers to join or form a union of their choosing and that workers will not be retaliated against for exercising this right;
  • Compensate the workers who were financially penalized and isolated from other workers and reinstate with back wages the worker who was retaliatorily terminated;
  • Sponsor trainings for management and, separately, employees on the right to freedom of association, to be delivered by an expert agreed upon by the company and by the WRC;
  • Allow all employees to have a member of the Union Formation Committee present when an employee is called to a meeting regarding a disciplinary matter and allow all employees to meet with the committee members in non-work areas of the factory during non-work hours; and
  • Meet monthly with representatives of the Union Formation Committee to discuss workplace issues.

When the WRC initially reached out to All-Sportz, the factory management declined to implement the remedial measures the WRC recommended. However, after the WRC contacted the licensee, Varsity also engaged with the factory owner who, to his credit, ultimately committed to implement these corrective actions. All-Sportz and Varsity are working constructively with the WRC to finalize a corrective action plan by which the factory will implement the WRC’s remedial recommendations. The WRC will continue to support and closely monitor this process.

As always, please let us know if you have any questions or concerns.