This weekend, universities belonging to the Worker Rights Consortium discussed the possibility of incorporating corporate representatives into its monitoring process. Although the discussions were vague and preliminary, participating universities and the WRC should be careful not to become too similar to the Fair Labor Association, the sweatshop-monitoring agency that is dominated by corporate representatives.
It is, of course, important that a dialogue exists between the WRC and corporations it investigates so that sweatshop conditions can be either improved or prevented. If the consortium cannot communicate with corporate executives and representatives, it will only be moderately effective.
Fortunately, most universities oppose allotting WRC board membership to corporate representatives. Hopefully, as this discussion continues, leaders of the WRC will recognize that although corporations must be involved and their perspectives sought, in order for truly independent monitoring to be conducted they must not have any controlling power within the consortium.