WASHINGTON — Labor Department officials have added NFL Properties to the agency’s anti-sweatshop Trendsetter List.
The New York-based company, which through licensees claims $2.25 billion in annual apparel sales at retail, is one of the largest concerns to ascend to the good-guy list of garment manufacturers and retailers. Unveiled Dec. 5, the list is intended to highlight companies that use garment contractors that are monitored for compliance with wage and other Labor laws.
NFL Properties, based in New York, already conducts periodic quality- control monitoring of factories used by its 170 licensees. The company, which approached Labor officials to be included on the list, will now train these inspectors to look for workplace violations.
“We are business partners of our contractors. When our logos and insignias go on our products, we feel an obligation” to know they are made according to the law, said Susan Rothman, senior director, adult categories at NFL Properties.
Rothman said part of the company’s workplace-compliance initiative will be to get an exact accounting of the number and location of contractors used by its licensees. While it’s unclear whether a greater scrutiny of workplace practices might at the same time curtail another ongoing problem — counterfeiting of its products — Rothman said it couldn’t hurt.
“One business practice could begat another bad business practice, although we have no proof that people who are counterfeiting are doing it in sweatshops,” she said, in a telephone interview from Scottsdale, Ariz., near Tempe, where the Super Bowl was held Sunday.
Labor officials say it’s just a coincidence that NFL Properties’ ascension to the list came close to Super Bowl time. But Labor Secretary Robert Reich made mention of the event last week, as he announced the agency’s latest anti-sweatshop honoree.
“Along with the action on the field,” Reich said in a statement, “I certainly hope the public will read the NFL’s signals in the powerful play the league has made today on behalf of America’s workers. I feel like I’ve just won the Super Bowl myself.”
Labor’s controversial Trendsetter List now has 32 names, 14 of which are subsidiaries of The Limited.
A Labor spokesman said the announcement of NFL Properties to the list marks a restarting of the agency’s ongoing anti-sweatshop campaign after the recent government shutdowns. The list and pressure being placed on retailers in the crackdown have drawn the ire of many major retailers, who say it’s the manufacturer’s job to insure workplace compliance. — Fairchild News Service