Interim Chancellor David Ward released an updated report Friday detailing the University of Wisconsin’s plans to continue mediation with Adidas in light of accusations of unfair labor practices.
In the statement addressed to the Labor Licensing Policy Committee, Ward reasserted that mediation is a contractual responsibility for the university and that alternatives to mediation would be “problematic” because of financial risks and conflicts regarding the university’s code of conduct.
Ward acknowledged in his letter that the mediation process is moving slowly but ensures that mediation has progressed with the addition of LLPC board member Jane Collins and LLPC Chair Lydia Zepeda to the staff. Ward also said the state’s Department of Justice will represent the university throughout the process.
In addition, he said the DOJ and Adidas agreed upon a media service to use throughout the mediation process and will select a mediator and a location for the process shortly. He said the university has requested that the DOJ move forward with the process in “a timely manner.”
The termination of the university’s contract with Adidas would be unproductive, Ward said, adding that mediation is a “prudent step” to accomplish the common goals of compensating the workers and maintaining the integrity and financial responsibilities of the university.
Jon Perkins, a member of the Student Labor Action Committee, said he disagrees with Ward’s opinion on the issue. The student organization has previously advocated putting Adidas on notice for termination of contract, which the LLPC has recommended to Ward several times.
“Mediation largely operates without input from shared governance groups or the general public, it does not move fast enough for PT Kizone workers and it is not mutually exclusive with putting Adidas on notice — which the senior university legal counsel here has said does not risk a lawsuit,” he said.
Perkins added that he thinks mediation is “not a very good option,” but since mediation is the selected process, the university “should be putting them on notice at the same time.”
The mediation process will continue once the mediator has been selected and a date and location are chosen for the mediation process to take place, Ward said.