Fair Labor Association (FLA)
The FLA, a non-profit organisation facilitated by US President Clinton in 1996 and incorporated in 1999, brings together three key constituencies – universities, civil society organizations (CSOs) and companies – to find sustainable solutions to systemic labour issues.
The FLA seeks to protect the workers who manufacture the clothing, footwear, luggage, jewellery, electronics and other items enjoyed by consumers around the world.
The 19-member Board of Directors, FLA’s policy-making body, is comprised of an independent Chair and an equal split of 6 representatives each for universities, CSOs and companies.
Most of FLA's funding comes from members' dues and government grants; however, a detailed financial breakdown has not been made public.
The FLA's multi-stakeholder affiliates include companies, suppliers, CSOs, colleges and universities.
The participating companies include some major international brands.
Companies join the FLA on a voluntary basis, but they must implement the FLA Workplace Code of Conduct for as long as they are affiliated.
The FLA currently focuses only on working conditions and labour rights, however it does require that employers adopt responsible measures to mitigate negative impacts that the workplace has on the environment.
The Workplace Code of Conduct is derived from ILO conventions and has nine key provisions:
3. Harassment or abuse
4. Forced labour
5. Child labour
6. Freedom of association and collective bargaining
7. Health, safety and environment
8. Hours of work
FLA holds affiliated companies accountable for enforcing its Workplace Code of Conduct in the factories, farms and facilities they use.
Working with FLA staff, independent external assessors randomly visit approximately five percent of facilities supplying affiliated companies each year.
United Students Against Sweatshops has been highly critical of the FLA for not pushing hard enough to improve standards, and advises against universities joining the initiative.
“...it [FLA code] is a weak code that fails to provide for women's rights, a living wage, the full public disclosure of factory locations, or university control over the monitoring process. It is more corporate cover up than industry reform.”
The Worker Rights Consortium (WRC) has also criticised the FLA for giving Apple manufacturing facilities in China a ‘clean bill of health’ after only a superficial inspection.
The FLA does not carry a consumer-facing label. Communication to consumers primarily takes place via brands' websites.
Otherwise, FLA is designed to be communicated to consumers via NGOs.
Although the FLA does not certify either production facilities or participating companies, it does accredit companies' compliance programmes.
The FLA also publishes summaries of the unannounced assessments it has conducted, including information on the relevant participating company/buyer; however these assessment/audit reports do not include the name of the enterprise operating the factory/farm.
FLA also does not publish a full list of the factories affected indirectly by the FLA through accredited internal audits conducted by participating companies.