Corporate social responsibility is topic of April 9 symposium

March 28, 2008

University Park, Pa. -- A symposium is planned for April 9 on the University Park campus to promote collaboration and discussion among various constituencies that impact working conditions in businesses that manufacture collegiate merchandise, and to bring to the public accurate information about Penn State's continued commitment to assessing and improving labor conditions for apparel workers around the world.

Titled "Corporate Social Responsibility in Collegiate Licensing," the symposium will be held from 7 to 9 p.m. in 135 Reber Building. The event will provide a broad perspective on corporate social responsibility in collegiate licensing from a diverse panel of industry professionals who will provide comments and then respond to written questions submitted by those attending. The event is open to all members of the University community.

Panelists for the event are:

-- Joseph Bozich, founder and CEO, Knights Apparel. Bozich started in the retail industry in 1987, having launched Gold's Gym into the retail marketplace as president of Gold's Gym merchandising. Knights Apparel was founded in 2001 and has the exclusive rights for the mass channel of distribution with the National Hockey League, National Basketball Association and several colleges and universities. Knights Apparel also is the Collegiate Licensing Co.'s largest supplier of college apparel in the United States.

-- Tim Freer,
vice president of Global Human Resources, New Era Cap Co. Freer is an eight year New Era veteran whose responsibilities include ensuring that New Era executes exemplary best practice human resources strategies, program, and policies, all designed to be responsive to employee and organizational needs. During his tenure he has led New Era in its elevation to accreditation as a participating company with the Fair Labor Association and turned around a caustic union relationship into one of the strongest and most respected in Western New York.

-- Scott Nova, executive director, Worker Rights Consortium (WRC). In that role, his mission is to monitor the working conditions under which college-licensed products are manufactured around the world. The WRC is a collaboration of educational institutions, students and non-governmental organizations, all of which share the common goal of promoting greater respect for the rights of workers in the global economy. Prior to joining the WRC, Nova was executive director of the Citizens Trade Campaign, a national coalition of environmental, religious, human rights, labor and other public interest groups. Citizens Trade Campaign is one of the nation's foremost advocates of an approach to U.S. trade policy that makes human rights, worker rights and environmental protection central priorities.

-- Jorge Perez-Lopez, executive director, Fair Labor Association (FLA). Perez-Lopez became executive director of the FLA in June 2006. He joined the FLA as its director of code implementation and monitoring in June 2005 after serving 31 years in the U.S. government. Prior to joining the FLA, Perez-Lopez served as the director of the Office of International Economic Affairs at the Bureau of International Labor Affairs, where he was involved in the development, implementation and negotiation of U.S. trade policies and directed a supporting research program in international economics.

-- Christie Lohmeyer, social responsibility coordinator, Gear For Sports Inc. Lohmeyer is in charge of monitoring and sustainable remediation for the entire factory base of Gear for Sports/GFSI Inc. She leads the international social compliance team in verifying that remediation plans are completed, compliance is maintained and that factories are adhering to the code of conduct. She acts as a liaison between the Gear for Sports/GFSI Inc licensing department and the social responsibility department. She also communicates with universities and the FLA regarding our social compliance program.

-- Bruce Siegal,
vice president, The Collegiate Licensing Co. Siegal manages and oversees all legal activities for the Collegiate Licensing Company (CLC) and IMG College, a division of IMG Worldwide. CLC administers trademark licensing programs for more than 200 colleges, universities, conferences, bowl games and the NCAA.  IMG College includes marketing, sponsorship and media services for collegiate institutions. Siegal heads up CLC's labor code task force. He as worked for more than 10 years on establishing and implementing labor code standards to promote fair labor conditions.
 
Dan Sieminski, associate vice president for finance and business at Penn State, is the moderator.
 
“We have given a substantial level of attention over the past decade to the issue of labor practices and the manufacture of collegiate apparel and we plan to continue to monitor this issue along with our colleagues across the nation,” said Sieminski. "This symposium, hosted by Penn State, will provide a forum for the University community to hear directly from labor rights experts, licensing agencies, and licensees that produce logoed goods for universities across the country."
 
Penn State has been involved since the initial stages of the movement to eliminate sweatshop labor in the production of merchandise bearing the University's marks and symbols. The University has been an early adopter and an active participant in a number of oversight initiatives.
 
The University played an instrumental role in the development of the first code of conduct for manufacturing plants and was one of the founding partners of the Global Alliance for Workers and Communities, one of the initial international efforts to provide a partnership of business, public and nonprofit organizations dedicated to assessing and improving conditions in factories and communities. This unique initiative included the direct involvement of the workers themselves.
 
In 1999, the University became an early member of the Fair Labor Association, a partnership between leading universities and manufacturers that is dedicated to creating safer and better working conditions for the people who manufacture apparel. In 2006, the University also joined the Worker Rights Consortium, another organization designed to improve working conditions.
 
"Simply said, Penn State has made it a priority to foster partnerships with labor rights experts, organizations such as the FLA and the WRC, in an ongoing effort to ensure workers are treated fairly in factories around the world," said Sieminski.

(Media Contacts)

Last Updated March 19, 2009