Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Did Michigan make Warren Buffett Mad?

Usually when your a public institution that relies on donations to do things like spend hundreds of millions dollars renovating your football stadium or putting up a new basketball practice facility, you usually don't want to piss off the richest man in the world. For those of you that don't know, Microsoft founder Bill Gates is now behind good friend Warren Buffett as the richest man in the world. On a side note, I hear they play in the member/member golf tournament together at Augusta National. I wonder what they talk about during the round? I would guess their golf cart radio would be playing a new song specially made for them by The Bare Naked Ladies called, "If I had 50 Billion Dollars". For the record Buffett is about 62 Billion and Gates is at 58.

So you ask, how would have The University of Michigan not made Warren B very happy?

Well, Michigan did this..........The University of Michigan will not renew its apparel licensing deal with Russell Corp.

Russell Corporation, owned by Berkshire Hathaway Corp (Warren's firm) has come under fire from labor advocates who said workers' rights to unionize were violated at factories in Honduras. One factory was closed partly due to anti-union animus, labor advocates said. Russell said the closure was prompted by declining demand for the apparel it produced.

This from Last year, Russell Corporation engaged in a series of mass firings of workers at its apparel plants in Choloma, Honduras -- in all, the company fired nearly 150 workers in blatant acts of retaliation for exercising their basic right to join a union. In response to pressure from universities and colleges whose logo apparel Russell produces, however, the company agreed to provide reinstatement offers and back pay to the fired workers, and to recognize a union at its Jerzees de Honduras plant.

I'm not hear to advocate who is right and who is wrong in these situations, we all know the reasons for and against unions and U of M had every right to end it's relationship with Russell for any reasons they see fit. I just hope Bill Martin didn't have a call into Warren about a new hockey practice facility or even a couple of suites in the new Big House!

The Russell story also had this interesting tid bit: This is the first time U-M has cut ties with an apparel manufacturer since a 2003 dispute with Land's End. That license was renewed several months later. Does anyone know why Michigan has a licensing agreement with Lands End? I haven't seen too much Lands End gear at the MDen? Is Lands End making a Michigan Snuggie or what?

Also, I think Michigan had a pretty public separation from Nike last year, so I'm not sure Lands End is the only apparel manufacturer Michigan has ended ties with since 2003.


Anonymous said...

most bigtime ncaa athletic departments have cut ties with russell athletic over the past week or so.

Anonymous said...

I may have missed it, but why do we care what Buffet thinks? Is he a big donor?

Anonymous said...

Re: Land's End

The alumni association is giving away a Land's End fleece for signing up for a lifetime membership.

Anonymous said...

I have watched interviews with WB and he is about the most down to earth guy you will ever meet. Other people run his businesses while he just gets the check. I don't think he cares one bit about us.