Updates: Nike, Badger, johnnie-O Act on Uyghur Forced Labor

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To:WRC Affiliate Universities and Colleges
From:Scott Nova and Ben Hensler
Date:January 28, 2021
Re:Updates: Nike, Badger, johnnie-O Act on Uyghur Forced Labor

This update is to inform you of recent positive actions taken by university licensees to address exposure to firms implicated in forced labor in the Uyghur Region in their supply chains for collegiate apparel.

As we reported to you earlier this month, after outreach from the WRC and university licensing agencies, the licensee, Peter Millar, agreed to stop sourcing collegiate goods from the factory, Lu An Garment, a subsidiary of Lu Thai Textile, a Chinese company implicated in use of Uyghur forced labor. While the WRC has not identified forced labor at Lu An Garment, specifically, the WRC’s guidance is that licensees not source collegiate goods from any Lu Thai factory, given the risks inherent in doing business with a firm implicated in Uyghur forced labor.

This week, after engagement by the WRC and the licensing agency, Exemplar Associates, another licensee that had disclosed Lu An Garment among its suppliers, johnnie-O, also committed not to source any collegiate goods from Lu An Garment or any other Lu Thai facility. johnnie-O also committed that it will work to shift sourcing of its non-collegiate goods away from Lu Thai as well.

Over the past month, the WRC has also addressed the same issue with Nike, whose licensee for collegiate apparel, Branded Custom Sportswear (BCS), had disclosed last year, among its suppliers of Nike-branded collegiate products, a factory owned by another Chinese company implicated in forced labor in the Uyghur Region, the Esquel Group. In this case, as well, while the WRC has not identified forced labor at the specific factory disclosed by BCS, the WRC’s guidance is that licensees not source collegiate goods from any factory owned by the Esquel Group, given that the latter also has been implicated in Uyghur forced labor. Nike reported that, as of the fourth quarter of last year, Nike has stopped sourcing from the Esquel Group factory that had been disclosed by BCS.

Finally, as universities will recall, Badger Sport, whose collegiate products were reported by the WRC in 2019 to have been produced in the Uyghur Region in facilities associated with forced labor, committed, as a remedial measure (in addition to immediately ending such production), to make significant charitable contributions to nonprofit organizations assisting refugees from the Uyghur Region. We are glad to report that Badger continues to fulfill its commitment to make these important contributions, with new donations from the company this month going to support medical care, counseling, food, short-term housing, legal aid, and resettlement advocacy for refugees fleeing forced labor and other human rights violations in the Uyghur Region.

We will continue to update you on licensees’ implementation of the WRC’s guidance on forced labor in the Uyghur Region and other actions taken by licensees to address this crucial issue.