L.L.Bean's Commitment to Human Rights in Jordan
Recent news coverage regarding a report on labor conditions in Jordan has L.L.Bean very concerned. In March, 2006 the National Labor Committee published a report describing abhorrent labor conditions in Jordanian factories, and L.L.Bean was identified along with numerous other retailers as a company with production in Jordan. The allegations contained in the NLC report include confiscation of passports, illegal work hours, illegal wage rates, nonpayment of wages and slave labor conditions as well as other equally unacceptable conditions.
L.L.Bean has had a presence in Jordan at a factory named Maintrend since 2003. However, allegations of abuse at the factory in which L.L.Bean has placed production are unfounded. L.L.Bean has a strong human rights policy and goes to great lengths to ensure it is sourcing products from reputable vendors around the world. The L.L.Bean Vendor Code of Conduct contains strict provisions concerning standards such as general factory conditions, safety, nondiscrimination, compensation, work climate, harassment and benefits. The factory in question was inspected for compliance with this code prior to the commencement of production. You can find a summary of this code online.
In response to NLC claims, L.L.Bean has again thoroughly inspected the Maintrend factory and has concluded that while the general allegations in the report might apply to other factories in Jordan, the assertions made by the NLC with respect to L.L.Bean and Maintrend are wrong. To verify our findings, L.L.Bean contracted with a third-party human rights auditor and requested the Jordanian Ministry of Trade conduct independent assessments of conditions at the Maintrend factory. Their findings were in line with our own. Since these visits, Maintrend has been placed on Jordaní's "Golden List" of factories that have achieved the government'ís highest level of human rights standards.
Our company has also attempted to meet with Charlie Kernaghan, NLC Executive Director and sponsor of this report, for a joint inspection of the Maintrend facility. To date, L.L.Bean's calls to Mr. Kernaghan have not been returned.
In the meantime, the NLC has published yet a second document naming another factory that L.L.Bean is alleged to be in and citing human rights violations similar to those in the March report. This is not a factory that L.L.Bean is using or has ever used. For independent confirmation, we have asked several third parties and the Jordanian government to inspect the factory to determine if any unauthorized subcontracting of work is happening there. They have all reported that they found none of our product in this factory. According to an NLC update, this factory has closed and workers have been deployed to other acceptable factories in Jordan.
L.L.Bean's reputation as a responsible company with a conscience is something we will not compromise. While L.L.Bean respects the NLC's campaign to improve general working conditions and practices in Jordan, we resent being unfairly associated with the outrageous and abhorrent conditions described by the NLC.