Souvenir medallions bearing the Colorado State University logo are being made in a Chinese sweatshop where workers are forced to work long hours and are paid “starvation wages,” according to a recent report by the National Labor Committee, an international watchdog group. University of Colorado merchandise is also connected to a company mentioned in the report.In November the NLC released its report (PDF), titled Today, Workers Bare the Cross, revealing sweatshop working conditions at the Junxingye Factory in Dongguan, China, where mostly young women were often forced to work 15 hours a day, seven days a week, and to live in unsanitary and unsafe conditions. On top of that, the NLC also says that the workers were being paid less than half of China’s minimum wage of 55 cents an hour to manufacture college paraphernalia.
The same factory was also found to have been making crucifixes sold at St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York City and throughout the country. After the report was made public, the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of New York pulled the crucifixes from its shelves.
Pictures smuggled out of the factory show two styles of CSU Ram medallions:
In response to the report, CSU spokeswoman Jennifer Dimas says that “we are very concerned and we are looking into it.”
“It turns out that when we named this factory we knew it had some connection to a very big company in China called Full Start,” says Charles Kernaghan, executive director of the NLC. “It wasn’t until we released the report that Full Start admitted that it had owned the factory that we had researched.”
One avenue by which university merchandise traveled from Full Start to the United States, according to the report, was through Team Golf, a company based in Dallas that describes itself as the “largest supplier of collegiate licensed golf accessories in the country.”
Team Golf sells CU merchandise, including Buffaloes divot tool packs and embroidered towels.
“Full Start has a relationship with Team Golf, which is an official licensee to universities, … so that’s at least one sure way those medallions and pins would have made it to the universities,” says Kernaghan. “There could be many more avenues; the only one we were able to come up with was Team Golf.”
Bronson Hilliard, a spokesman for CU-Boulder, says the university is a member of the Worker Rights Consortium, an independent monitoring organization, and that the WRC is looking into the allegations.
“They are aware of these alleged violations. The licensee has acknowledged the violations. The WRC is going to look further into the allegations and we are going to await the WRC recommendation,” Hilliard says, although there is no set time-line for when the recommendations are to be released.
Neither the WRC nor Team Golf returned requests for comment.