View Header


Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate Release September 9, 1999


Anti-Sweatshop Fair Labor Association Names Charles Ruff As Chair

Over three years ago, the President called together members of the apparel and footwear industries, labor, and consumer, labor rights, and human rights organizations to find ways to ensure that products made for American consumers were not made under abusive sweatshop conditions. Responding to his challenge, the invited groups joined together to form the Apparel Industry Partnership (AIP). The AIP established a historic workplace code of conduct and monitoring principles and drafted a blueprint for a new organization, the Fair Labor Association (FLA), to oversee implementation of code, development of a service mark, and raise consumer awareness.

These companies and non-governmental organizations have taken a major step toward making the FLA blueprint a reality by announcing today that Charles Ruff will be the first Chair of the Board of Directors of the FLA. The President is confident that Mr. Ruff will bring to the FLA the extraordinary intellect, energy, and integrity that have served him so well through his distinguished legal career, including his service as White House Counsel. Mr. Ruff's ability to forge compromise among diverse points of view and his commitment to an inclusive process make him a natural to head an organization that provides a forum for some of the most difficult and contentious issues in international labor rights. Mr. Ruff's leadership and foresight will be invaluable to this evolving institution as it addresses these issues.

This appointment of the Chair comes on the heels of other significant steps: the recent announcement that two additional major apparel companies have joined the FLA and the decision by yet more colleges and universities (now over 120) to require that their licensees meet FLA standards. These events, taken together, make clear that the FLA promises to be one serious, viable mechanism to address our shared goals of raising labor standards in workplaces around the world and providing accountability to American consumers.

The President congratulates the FLA for its new leadership and applauds the companies that have made this commitment to raising labor standards. We hope that others will continue to join the effort.