|Submission Date||March 9, 2017|
OP-17: Guidelines for Business Partners
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Office of Environmental Sustainability
How many of the institution’s business partners are covered by policies, guidelines and/or agreements that require adherence to minimum environmental standards?:
How many of the institution’s business partners are covered by policies, guidelines and/or agreements that require adherence to minimum standards governing employee wages, benefits, working conditions and rights?:
A copy of the policies, guidelines, and/or agreements with the institution's business partners (or a representative sample):
The policies, guidelines, and/or agreements with the institution's business partners (or a representative sample):
Because sustainability is important to Oberlin College, when selecting providers, negotiating contracts, and conducting business, environmental considerations are tended to.
The Environmental Policy Implementation Plan (2015) directs:
F. Leverage relationships with vendors
The College can increase the likelihood that it will be able to achieve the goals outlined in this section by proactively working with vendors to promote sustainable practices and products. The College will favor vendors with demonstrated expertise in and commitment to sustainability and resource use efficiency. Specifically, the College will wherever possible:
1. Convey in writing its goals for source reduction and will encourage vendors to help us achieve these goals. This document will emphasize the institution’s adherence to ‘total product life-cycle analysis’ leading to closed-loop scenarios in product development, design, packaging, shipping, and the return of products for recycling, reuse and remanufacturing.
2. Work with other area institutions to increase its leveraging and buying power. This has the potential to expand access to sustainable products as well as create monetary savings.
3. Instruct vendors to notify buying staff of all of the environmentally sensitive products or services that they provide and plan to provide.
4. Favor “Products of Service” when available. This arrangement allows the consumer to purchase the service of a product while the manufacturer retains material ownership of that product. It creates an economic incentive for the manufacturer to produce durable products that provide valuable services to the customer. (For example, the College rents washers and dryer for laundry services and the provider owns the machines).
5. Minimize the generation of materials destined for landfills or incineration, and seek relationships with waste vendors that help the College achieve this goal by developing cooperative mechanisms to audit, monitor, and reduce waste streams.
For example, BAMCO was selected as the college's food service provider due to their sustainability commitment. A decade ago, Oberlin was seeking a provider who was willing adhere to environmental standards beyond typical operations and Bon Apetit was the only one who was willing to work with us on these progressive issues - composting was the determining factor at the time. Dining aims to "purchase, prepare and dispose all food and products in the most sustainable, socially and fiscally responsible manner possible." Bon Apetit was willing to continue Oberlin College's efforts to source locally and responsibly.
In office supplies, Staples was selected as our partner due in part to their willingness to encourage sustainable behavior. We asked Staples to consolidate shipments and they have complied. The college shared our green purchasing policies and Staples organized the website to route users automatically to greener preferred products. Staples periodically presents new green products to Oberlin College for our consideration.
As for our vehicle fleet, Oberlin College sought a partner who would prioritize both financial savings and environmental considerations. Enterprise was selected and our contracts for business and personal vehicle rentals is written such that cars with better fuel economy are encouraged. In the Enterprise CarShare program of which we now have 4 vehicles on campus, fuel economy and environmental manufacturing was the primary determinant in the vehicles selected for campus.
Individuals with purchase cards (corporate credit cards) are given guidelines by which to conduct business. One of which includes environmental considerations and references the green purchasing policy.
In building, construction, and renovation projects, many factors of "green" are prioritized. Not only adherence to LEED Silver or beyond building standards, but further considerations are made. Facilities Planning and Construction created their own rubric to make evaluations with the manufacturing, shipping, function, beauty, and longevity of materials being considered. Our contractors should also adhere to our environmental standards and preferences.
Oberlin College Sweatshop-Free Apparel Code of Purchasing
Updated November 2013
Oberlin College will only knowingly purchase from apparel companies whose workers and whose suppliers’ workers (meaning those of all contractors and subcontractors) are present at work voluntarily, not at undue risk of physical harm, fairly compensated and not exploited in any way. Please checkmark the items with which your company complies, and use the space below each item to explain your company’s policy if it is not in compliance with Oberlin College’s Code. Noncompliance with one or more items does not necessarily mean Oberlin College will withhold business from your company.
_____ There shall not be any use of forced labor, whether in the form of prison labor, indentured labor, bonded labor or otherwise.
_____ No person shall be employed at an age younger than 15 (or 14 where the law of the country of manufacture allows) or younger than the age for completing compulsory education in the country of manufacture where such age is higher than 15. Companies and suppliers should work with governmental, human rights and non-governmental organizations to minimize the negative impact on any child released from employment as a result of the enforcement of this Code.
_____ Companies shall ensure that suppliers construct and maintain a safe and healthy working environment which will prevent accidents and injury to health.
_____ Employees shall receive compensation for any injuries, illnesses, or diseases which may arise in an employee as a result of her or his working for for a supplier of the company. Employers must ensure that workers are paid all compensation and benefits due to workers under local law in the case of dismissal, layoff, plant closure and other instances of termination of employment or suspension of work, regardless of whether the payment is made by the affected workers’ direct employer or the apparel company.
To ensure compliance with this standard, at the time of contracting for products from a given supplier factory and on a quarterly basis thereafter during the duration of the contract, the company must require proof that the supplier factory and/or its owners have set aside and/or contributed sufficient funds to fulfill these obligations, in a manner that guarantees the availability of these funds to workers at the time when they are due.
The company must not enter into a contract for products from a given supplier factory when they know or reasonably should know that the factory and/or its owners have significant outstanding obligations to current or former employees as a result of prior dismissals, layoffs, plant closure or other instances of termination or suspension of work, unless the contract requires the supplier to satisfy its obligations to these employees as a condition of receiving payments.
Notwithstanding the foregoing, in the event that a supplier factory does not fulfill its obligations to current and/or former employees from dismissal, layoff, plant closure or other instances of termination of employment or suspension of work within thirty (30) days of effective date of the obligation, the apparel company will pay, according to principles of joint and several liability, the entire outstanding obligation within thirty (30) days.
The apparel companies shall be jointly and severally responsible for all legally mandated compensation, including but not limited to severance pay, accrued vacation and holiday pay, and unpaid wages owed to workers employed at factories that have produced apparel, even if the company is not the direct employer of the workers.
_____ The company and all its suppliers shall recognize and respect the right of employees to freedom of association/unionization. If employees engage in the process of unionization, employers shall not retaliate against any employees in any relevant manner. No threats shall be made, there shall be no indication to any employee that she or he will be punished if she or he expresses approval of the union, and/or decides to join the union. Once a union has been formed, employers at all levels shall negotiate in good faith with the union and its representatives. Members of factory management shall not hold office in factory level unions.
_____ Companies shall require their suppliers to respect the right of a worker to refuse work that he or she has reasonable justification to believe is unsafe, without suffering discrimination or loss of pay, including the right to refuse to enter or to remain inside a building that he or she has reasonable justification to believe is unsafe for occupation.
_____ Companies shall ensure supplier factories maintain a legitimate worker complaint process and mechanism that ensures that workers can raise in a timely fashion concerns about health and safety risks, safely and confidentially.
_____ Employers at supplier factories must provide wages and benefits which comply with all applicable laws and regulations, and which match or exceed the local prevailing wages and benefits in the relevant industry.
_____ Employees shall not be required to work more than the lesser of (I) 48 hours per week or (II) the limits on regular hours allowed by the law of the country of manufacture.
_____ Overtime shall not exceed 12 hours per week.
_____ Overtime shall not be, in any manner, required of any employee.
_____ Employees shall be entitled to at least one day off in every seven-day period.
_____ Payment for overtime work shall be at a rate of 1.5 times the normal salary, or such premium rate as is legally required in the country of manufacture, whichever is higher.
_____ Homework (work not done at the place of manufacture) shall not be required of or pressured upon any employee. Any instances of voluntary homework must be done in a manner safe for the employee and any persons who may be in the surrounding vicinity.
_____ The use of temporary workers should not be a permanent practice of any company or supplier. Rather, they should be used in response to unforeseen events, or yearly events – such as an increase in demanded production around the winter holidays – which last for a short period. Temporary workers are not to be used as a weapon against the employees in the case of a union struggle. They are not to be used to escape from paying benefits to its part or full-time employees.
_____ In the case of a natural disaster or other crisis that causes the disruption of production, the company and suppliers shall make every effort to resume production at the affected worksite(s) to prior levels as soon as feasible and not to move production elsewhere, as doing so would further intensify the effects of the disaster/crisis on the workers and their community.
_____ Companies that own or purchase from factories operating in Bangladesh must be party to the Accord on Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh.
_____ In countries where law or practice offers fewer or weaker protections than these labor standards, the above mentioned standards should apply to corporate practice. Firms should refrain from any actions that would diminish the protections of these labor standards.
_____ A list of all supplier factories, including contractors and subcontractors, and their addresses and contact information is attached to this checklist.
_____ If your company has any program of third-party independent monitoring of supplier factories, please name the monitoring group and describe the program below. If possible, include a copy of a recent inspection report.
(Company Name) (Date)
A brief description of programs and strategies institution has implemented to ensure that the guidelines are followed, including a brief description of instances when the guidelines have changed purchasing behavior, if applicable:
The Purchasing Department works with the Sweatshop Committee to oversee the Anti-Sweatshop Purchasing Policy. The policy, which was heralded by AFL-CIO president John Sweeney as "probably the strongest anti-sweatshop agreement of any college or university in the United States" in 1999, has since been expanded beyond apparel. Over the years, Oberlin has ceased purchasing from several manufacturers determined to be in violation of the policy. For example, Oberlin College banned Coca-Cola products over concerns about the company's environmental and human rights record from 2007-2013.
The website URL where information about the institution’s guidelines for its business partners is available:
The information presented here is self-reported. While AASHE staff review portions of all STARS reports and institutions are welcome to seek additional forms of review, the data in STARS reports are not verified by AASHE. If you believe any of this information is erroneous or inconsistent with credit criteria, please review the process for inquiring about the information reported by an institution and complete the Data Inquiry Form.