The Univesity of Oregon’s football team has had a pretty good season with its new head coach Mario Cristobal. Ducks won their first bowl game in three years, the team recruited its best-ever 2019 freshman class and wide receiver Dillon Mitchell just announced his NFL draft ambitions.
If you want to celebrate the season with Ducks gear, you’d better check to see where it came from. There’s a chance it could be made by Chinese-forced labor.
UO Matters, a website operated by UO economics professor Bill Harbaugh, published a post linking to an AP story that reported a network of camps operated by the Chinese government enslaves more than 1 million Muslims. One of the products that the camps make is merchandise for Badger Sportswear, which has a licensing agreement with the UO to produce Ducks clothing.
Molly Blancett, UO’s interim spokesperson, says Badger Sportswear accounts for less than 1 percent of the UO’s licensed merchandising.
Badger Sportswear has responded to the allegation through a press statement on the company website. The statement said Badger was misled by the Chinese facility when officials toured it, and have ceased production from the facility. Badger Sportswear has gone on to hire a third party company to investigate the facility.
The AP story says the Chinese production facilities are surrounded by barbed wire and guarded by armed officers and dogs.
Regardless, Blancett added, the UO is investigating the company. If the allegations are true, the UO will sever ties with Badger Sportswear because the UO values “worker’s rights and are committed to working with licensee who share that commitment.”
If UO ends up revoking its licensing agreement with Badger Sportswear, it would follow other universities, according to CBS News, such as Texas A&M, Bowdoin College in Brunswick, Maine, and the University of Maine in Orono.