A Penn licensee that produces sportswear has cut ties with a company that allegedly uses forced labor to source raw materials, according to a recent report.
Cutter & Buck, the sportswear apparel company and Penn licensee, agreed on Dec. 3 to cease doing business with the factory owned by Lu Thai Textile, according to a Dec. 21 WRC report. Cutter & Buck has a license with the University to manufacture sportswear and golf apparel featuring Penn’s logo, but no Penn-branded apparel was produced under forced labor conditions, Division of Business Services Director of Communications Barbara Lea-Kruger wrote in an emailed statement to The Daily Pennsylvanian.
College sophomores and Undergraduate Assembly representatives Sai Mamidala and Joan Dartey — who held seats on Penn's Committee on Manufacturer Responsibility in the fall — previously told the DP that the Penn licensee was using forced labor to produce Penn Golf apparel. They later confirmed that their report was inaccurate.
The Workers’ Rights Consortium, a labor monitoring organization that tracks violations of workers’ personal rights, made Penn and other member universities aware in November of reports of forced labor to source raw materials used by Lu Thai Textile. Cutter & Buck had used a factory owned by Lu Thai Textile to produce goods.
Lea-Kruger wrote that while Cutter & Buck does not produce apparel for the Penn Golf team or Penn Athletics, it is licensed to sell golf-style sportswear with the Penn logo through its store.
Lea-Kruger added that Cutter & Buck has since “cancel[ed] all open and future orders” from Lu Thai Textile.
In July 2020, the WRC released a report detailing the use of Uyghur forced labor in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region of China. The report implicated Lu Thai Textile, as well as five other companies, which sourced “cotton, yarn, fabric, and garments” produced in this region, possibly through forced labor.
After being made aware of Cutter & Buck’s relationship to Lu Thai Textile by the WRC, the CMR presented the concern to its body at a Nov. 13 meeting. Penn’s Code of Workplace Conduct for Penn Licensed Product Manufacturers states that “licensees and their subcontractors shall not use any forced labor, whether in the form of prison labor, indentured labor, bonded labor or otherwise.”
Cutter & Buck took action to sever its relationship with Lu Thai Textile, remedying the situation without requiring intervention by Penn’s CMR.
“We appreciate Exemplar’s engagement and [Cutter & Buck’s] decision to stop doing collegiate business with Lu Thai Textile,” the WRC Dec. 21 report stated.
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