Lead Firms, Joint Liability and the Regulation of Work in Global Supply Chains

Thursday, July 17, 2014: 8:45 AM
Room: Booth 41
Oral Presentation
Jennifer BAIR , University of Colorado at Boulder, Boulder, CO
This paper examines how the concept of joint liability can be applied to labor organizing in the context of global supply chains. It does so by revisiting the history of jobbers agreements in the U.S. apparel industry. Jobbers agreements were collectively bargained contracts that were negotoated  between jobbers--companies that marketed but did not make apparel--and the unionized workers employed by the independent contractors that filled their orders. The paper then explains how the jobbers agreement model is inspiring new efforts to negotiate "buyer agreements" with modern-day jobbers: brands and retailers such as Adidas, Wal-Mart, and Apple that sit atop global supply chains. Such efforts leverage creative forms of worker organizing and enlist students, activist consumers and other stakeholders to demand recognition of modern-day jobbers as de facto joint employers.