Cornell cuts apparel ties over Bangladesh accord


Cornell University severed its relationships with the apparel manufacturer JanSport over worker and factory safety in Bangladesh.

Cornell first pressed the issue in May when President David J. Skorton sent a letter to Eric Wiseman, CEO of VF Corporation which owns JanSport, asking the corporation to sign the Accord on Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh by the end of September. Skorton threatened to terminate JanSport’s license for Cornell goods if the company didn’t sign.

RMG Rana PlazaOn Thursday Cornell did just that, cutting its ties with the company while leaving open the option to resume its business relationship if VF decides to sign the accord in the future.

“The sheer size of VF’s presence and influence in Bangladesh behooves the company to support all initiatives designed to improve worker and factory safety in that country,” Skorton wrote. “Although VF and JanSport are separate business entities, VF’s practices regarding labor compliance and practices govern all production globally and are applied to all VF subsidiaries.”

The accord is an independent agreement designed to make all garment factories in Bangladesh safe workplaces. It includes independent safety inspections at factories and public reporting of the results of these inspections, according to its website.

As part of the agreement retailers commit to ensuring that repairs are carried out, that sufficient funds are made available to do so, and that workers continue to be paid a salary.