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December 10, 2003 - Image 5

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The Michigan Daily, 2003-12-10

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The Michigan Daily - Wednesday, December 10, 2003 - 5

[How to survive blackouts

Labor allegations may stop

'U' from
By Tomislav Ladika
Daily Staff Reporter
The labor practices of a factory in
El Salvador are prompting the Univer-
sity to reconsider its contract with
retailer Lands' End for the production
of alumni apparel.
The University's Committee on
Labor Standards and Human Rights is
expected to make a recommendation to
the University on Friday about whether
to renew the contract, said Kristin
McRay, a student representative on the
Students Organizing for Labor and
Economic Equality has said the Univer-
sity should not renew the agreement
because Primo, a factory in El Salvador
that produces Lands' End apparel,
allegedly has been blacklisting employ-
ees with a history of union participation,
SOLE member Elliott Mallen said.
The allegations were originally
published in a report by the Worker
Rights Consortium, a group that
works with colleges and universities
to investigate labor practices. The Fair
Labor Association, another group that
advocates worker's rights, has infor-

mally confirmed the report's findings,
Mallen said.
Mallen said the contract is "in the
thousands" of dollars, but added that the
dollar amount does not matter because
labor standards apply to every company.
"We have to go after the big and
small contracts," he said.
McRay, an LSA junior, said Primo
allegedly refused to hire union workers
from a neighboring factory that was
going out of business. She said that
according to the accusations, any work-
ers who were union sympathizers or
organizers "were systematically blocked
from having contracts with Primo."
"Basically these workers were not
given jobs because of their union
Such labor practices are against the
laws of El Salvador and the Code of
Conduct for University of Michigan
Licensees, McRay said.
Lands' End spokeswoman Ann
Woolman said the company does not
agree with the findings of the Worker
Rights Consortium, but that it is taking
the allegations seriously and has initi-
ated five investigations into Primo's
labor practices.

"Lands' End has never acknowl-
edged any violation at the Primo plant
for the very good reason that the evi-
dence simply does not support it,"
Lands' End Director of Quality Anne
Keis said in a letter sent to the Univer-
sity last month. "The Primo El Sal-
vador plant is widely regarded as a
safe, clean, comfortable and generally
first-rate facility."
While the Worker Rights Consor-
tium listed 21 employees who Primo
allegedly had blacklisted and refused
to hire, Keis said one of those employ-
ees currently works for the company,
and another was hired but recently left
due to personal reasons.
University spokesman Joel Seguine
said University administrators hope
Lands' End will abide by its responsi-
"If they don't, we're going to have to
take a hard look at continuing our rela-
tionship," he said.
McRay said the committee members
are analyzing the response by Lands'
End and considering both sides of the
issue. But she added that the consor-
tium's accusations have usually been
accurate in the past.

Art and Design senior Dena Bai and her design team present a
display of their blackout project in the Media Union yesterday.

Students pus/h li m is of old Res Hall carcuits

By Evan McGarvey
Daily Staff Reporter

A tangle of wires, wrapping around the
TV and plugged into two power strips on
the other side of the room, dominate Geoff
Easton's West Quad dorm room.
"I never heard anything about how many
appliances we should use in our rooms,"
said Easton, an LSA freshman
Between Easton and his roommate, their
room has a television, multiple video game
systems, an electric toothbrush, cell
phones and various other electrical devices
- all plugged in, through power strips, to
the room's wall outlets.
This cluttered scene is commonplace in
most University residence halls. The flood-
ing of residence-hall outlets, not designed
for massive power use, poses many dan-
gers. The strain on a room's system can
lead to electrical fires, localized hall
blackouts, and the costly problem of

excess power use.
Facilities and Operations spokeswoman
Diane Brown said the old age of the dorms
helped create the current situation. The
most recent hall built - Bursley Resi-
dence Hall - was instituted in 1968.
"One of the real challenges is that the
residence halls were not built in an era
with the current level of power demand.
We analyzed the problem with housing and
the facilities folks and tried to make
changes during each summer to make the
dorms better for all of the new electrical
appliances," Brown said.
Students said they were unaware of the
dorms' limitations.
Most said they received no real informa-
tion about how much power consumption is
appropriate for each room. Students often left
their computer on constantly, left lights on
during the day and used multiple electronic
devices simultaneously, all behaviors directly
discouraged in University recommendations.

The University's energy-management
website said the University spends $4 mil-
lion a year on building lighting alone.
Furthermore, the website estimates that
more than 26,000 computers are used, in
both residence halls and in academic
buildings, on a daily basis. Computers
account for 10 percent of all electrical use
on campus.
Even with the University caught in the
midst of an economic downturn and the pos-
sibility of a 5-percent cut from state funding,
students said they were uninformed about
energy costs and their potential impact on the
University's financial security.
LSA sophomore Tal Masters Jones said
most students are completely ignorant
when it comes to electricity use.
"We never have anyone come into our
dorm or send us letters telling us 'don't
use that much electricity.' We've never
been told something explicit," Jones said.
Whether they are aware or not, students'

Many students fill their power strips like this one In West Quad's Winchell House, despite
University concerns over high electricity costs and safety Issues.

choices when it comes to power have an
impact on not just the cost of power, but
problems and hazards like blackouts. "It's
a problem everywhere where electronic
devices are left on and unattended. We are
just having additional consumption in the
dorms when people leave printers and
computers on, in particular leaving them

on overnight. Students can do their part
and monitor their use," Brown said.
Still, students claim their behavior
should not be monitored.
"One of the nice things about college is
that you don't have your mom coming into
your room telling you to turn off your TV,"
Jones said.


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