Social aspects of Jansport Production
Jansport is almost as central to many college students’ lives as coffee. Whether students carry their books in Jansport backpacks or show up to class in Jansport sweatpants, the brand makes its mark on college campuses. In PLNU’s bookstore, Jansport products are the store’s second bestselling products, but do PLNU students really know the details behind the brand’s production methods?
Jansport’s website claims their clean and safe factories of production treat the workers well, but their vague Facility Compliance Guidelines and Global Compliance Principles provide no information regarding the details of workers’ compensation. Jansport is a Vanity Fair (VF) Corporation company accredited by the Worldwide Responsible Accredited Production, which prohibits employee abuse and demands compensation and benefits for employees. Upon further inspection of WRAP’s requirements for accreditation, however, the only requirement for employee compensation is that “facilities [will] pay [their employees] at least the minimum total compensation required by local law, including all mandated wages, allowances & benefits.” “Local law” is the catch phrase here. What are the wage rates required by local law in the countries where VF factories are located?
Although Jansport claims to be transparent and ethically sound, practices in a few of their factories call the company’s bold claims into question. According to a study by Miami University students, Lesotho, a small country surrounded by South Africa, is home to two factories which produce Jansport products. Although the factories provide Lesotho’s people with much needed work, they do not properly treat employees. The factories help women contribute to their household incomes, but they also force female employees to work much unpaid overtime and fail to accommodate pregnant women.
Other issues have occured in Jakarta Indonesia, which is the location of export processing zones for Jansport’s university apparel. According to a study by the Workers’ Rights Consortium, the factories in this region (the Kawasan Berikat Nusantara region) mistreat employees. Some employees who work in these factories reported that they are afraid to speak up because of frequent and illegal military intervention suppressing employees’ union efforts and strikes. Furthermore, the KBN region factories have a trend of abruptly closing and failing to fulfill their contracts with employees, leaving employees unpaid and without work.
These issues occurring in Jansport’s factories challenge the bold claims on the company’s website, leaving Jansport’s ethics and production methods in question.
Written by: Audrey Hiatt