FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                          AT
FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 1, 1996                           (202) 616-2771
                                               TDD (202) 514-1888

 DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE APPROVES PROPOSAL BY GROUP OF GARMENT AND
      ATHLETIC SHOE MANUFACTURERS TO DISCUSS LABOR STANDARDS


       Group wants to Inform Consumers that their Products
             Weren't Made Under Sweat Shop Conditions


     WASHINGTON, D.C. -- The Department of Justice today approved
a proposal allowing a group of garment and athletic shoe
manufacturers, organized labor representatives and a human rights
group--including Nicole Miller, NIKE, Reebok, L.L. Bean, and AFL-
CIO--to jointly discuss voluntary labor standards to inform
consumers that their products were not produced under sweat shop
conditions.  

     The proposal by the Apparel Industry Partnership will allow
its 18 members to engage in preliminary talks to discuss how to
develop such standards, as well as possible auditing mechanisms,
and methods to inform consumers that their products meet the
standards.  The partnership plans to articulate its standards
within six months.

     "The goal of the partnership is to provide reliable
information to consumers as to whether the products they purchase
are made under decent and humane working conditions," said A.
Douglas Melamed, Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General of
the Antitrust Division. 
     
     The Department's position was stated in a business review
letter sent yesterday by Melamed in response to a request made on
behalf of the partnership.
  
     The Department said that with certain safeguards in place,
the proposed discussions are unlikely to have anticompetitive
consequences even though some of the members are direct
competitors.        

     The partnership proposes to discuss how the organization
will go about setting standards, developing an auditing process
for those who choose to comply with the standards, and creating
common language that can be used to inform consumers that certain
products comply.  Safeguards will be in place during the
discussions to prevent the exchange of competitively sensitive,
proprietary information.  These safeguards will include the
presence of antitrust counsel at all discussions between direct
competitors, the creation of discussion guidelines, and
documentation of the discussions.

     This business review letter does not address any standards
that the partnership might articulate.  Nor does it address any
auditing system that may ultimately be used to assess compliance
with the standards or any methods the partnership might develop
to inform consumers, through labeling, advertising or otherwise,
that products comply with the standards. 

     The following companies are members of the partnership:  

Business for Social Responsibility; Interfaith Center on
Corporate Responsibility; International Labor Rights Fund; Karen
Kane Inc.; Lawyers Committee for Human Rights; Liz Claiborne
Inc.; L.L. Bean Inc.; National Consumers League; Nicole Miller;
NIKE Inc.; Patagonia; Phillips-Van Heusen Corp.; Reebok
International Ltd.; Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union;
AFL-CIO, CLC; Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Center for Human Rights;
Tweeds Inc.; Union of Needletrades, Industrial and Textile
Employees; and Warnaco Inc.

     Under the Department's business review procedure, an
organization may submit a proposed action to the Antitrust
Division and receive a statement as to whether the Division will
challenge the action under the antitrust laws.

     A file containing the business review request and the
Department's response may be examined in the Legal Procedure Unit
of the Antitrust Division, Room 3235, Department of Justice,
Washington, D.C. 20530.  After a 30-day waiting period, the
documents supporting the business review request will be added to
the file. 
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