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October 20th, 2011

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NIKE WORKERS ALLEGE THEY HAVE BEEN CHEATED OF MILLIONS OF DOLLARS IN WAGES THROUGH FORCED, UNPAID OVERTIME

February 22nd, 2011

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Team Sweat:

This afternoon I sent the letter below to Nike CEO, Mark Parker.  The letter outlines the information I was recently given by the trade union representing Nike’s 18,000 workers at PT Nikomas in Indonesia.  If Nike complies with my requests, I hope to have an update to you on this case on March 8th.

Peace, Jim Keady

###

February 22, 2011

Mark Parker, CEO
Nike Inc.
One Bowerman Drive
Beaverton, OR 97005

Dear Mr. Parker,

On February 6, 2011 I had the pleasure of meeting with representatives from the Serikat Pekerja Nasional (SPN) in Serang, Indonesia to discuss the current conditions for Nike factory workers producing at PT Nikomas.

During this meeting, I was told that Nike factory workers at PT Nikomas are being forced to work unpaid overtime to meet Nike’s production quotas.

Here are the facts as they were given to me:

  • There are approximately 18,000 Nike factory workers at PT Nikomas and they produce more than 2,000,000 pairs of Nike sneakers per month.
  • Nike factory workers at PT Nikomas typically work from 7am-3pm.  This is followed by three hours of paid overtime.
  • Following their regular shift and paid overtime hours, your factory workers are then told by their supervisors to punch out on the time clock.
  • Once your workers are off the clock, they are forced by their supervisors to get back on the production line for one hour of unpaid overtime.
  • This hour of forced, unpaid overtime happens primarily in the sewing divisions and includes approximately 13,000 Nike factory workers.
  • The hourly wage for a fourth hour of overtime would be Rp12.600 ($1.40).
  • Nike factory workers are being forced to work this unpaid hour 6 days a week.
  • If these allegations are accurate, Nike factory workers at PT Nikomas have been cheated out of approximately  $5,460,000.00 this past year -  $1.40 (rate) x 6 (days) x 50 (weeks) x 13,000 (workers) = $5,460,000.00.
  • The SPN representatives shared that this forced overtime/wage cheating has been happening to Nike factory workers at PT Nikomas for 18 years.

In light of these alleged violations of your workers’ rights, I am requesting that:

1.     By March 8, 2011, Nike Inc. will contract the Trade Union Rights Centre (TURC) in Jakarta, Indonesia to conduct an independent investigation into the allegations at PT Nikomas listed above and the results of TURC’s investigation will be made public to the international NGO community, the press, and the trade unions at each Nike factory in Indonesia.

2.     By March 8, 2011, Nike Inc. will send an official memo to Muhaimin Iskandar, Indonesia’s Minister of Manpower, alerting him to the fact that you have received this memo and that you will be taking immediate action to ascertain the validity of the aforementioned violations of your Indonesian workers’ rights at PT Nikomas.

3.     By March 8, 2011, Nike Inc. will send an official memo to Rakhmat Suryadi, Chairman of SPN-Serang District, alerting him to the fact that you have received this memo and that you will be taking immediate action to ascertain the validity of the aforementioned violations of your Indonesian workers’ rights at PT Nikomas.

4.     By March 8, 2011, Nike Inc. will send me confirmation that each of the actions in points 1-3 has been taken, along with copies of the memos sent in English and Indonesian.

Once the findings from the investigation by TURC are complete, we can discuss what appropriate action(s) might follow.

If you would like to discuss this in more detail or if you have any questions, please feel free to email me at jim@educatingforjustice.org or call me at 732-988-7322.

I thank you for your consideration of this matter and I look forward to hearing from you by March 8th.

Peace,

Jim Keady, Director
Educating for Justice, Inc.

“WE ARE POWERLESS” A MINDSET THAT WE MUST BREAK

February 2nd, 2011

“We are powerless.”

As these words were uttered yesterday in two very different settings, my heart sank and my Irish temper flared. I am saddened because no human being should feel powerless. We all have inherent rights and dignity and given these, we all have power, given from God, that no man or economic system can strip from us. I am angry because it is completely unjust for people and corporations (ex. Nike) from my country to take advantage of this situation and exploit it for the pure maximization of profit.

I first heard the words “we are powerless,” during the panel discussion on the state of labor rights I took part in with the Jakarta Foreign Correspondents Club. It was during the presentation by Pak Wahid from the Ministry of Manpower.

During the question and answer period, a reporter from Agence France-Presse asked Pak Wahid why he felt that the implementation of Indonesia’s labor laws is ineffective and why it is so difficult when trying to improve labor conditions. After Pak Wahid shared his thoughts with the reporter, I asked the moderator if I might also comment.

I began, “You asked why does the Ministry of Manpower feel powerless? As an outsider, the analysis that I would give is because the country is still under colonial rule.”

There was a collective look of surprise among the Indonesians in the audience when I said this. Many of them know and feel this is the truth, but I imagine it was the first time that any of them heard these words come from the mouth of someone from one of the colonizing countries.

I continued, “In the past, it was the Dutch. The neo-colonialists are the transnational corporations. If you read Adrian Vickers, ‘A History of Modern Indonesia,’ just read the first three chapters and substitute ‘the Dutch’ for the Nikes, the Adidas, the Freeports… and it’s the same dynamic.

…And that’s where I have a problem as an American. Because I feel that Nike is misrepresenting what Americans stand for and what our values are. They are exploiting the corruption and collusion and nepotism (and) the poverty in this country and it is unfair and unjust.”

Later that evening, I was sitting on the floor of a cramped room in Balaraja, having a discussion with a Nike shoe factory worker about what he wants to do about the poor wages he and his fellow workers are being paid. As part of the discussion, we did a role playing exercise. I pretended to be a Nike worker and I spoke to my translator Alif as if he were the CEO of Nike. I told the Nike CEO that I was angry. That I work hard every day. That my friends and I deserve better wages. That it is unfair that the Nike executives are greedy and get rich, while workers grind out lives in abject poverty.

I asked the worker if this is what he felt in his heart. He said, “Of course. I’m not stupid Jim. I know this is our reality and it is unfair.  But… We are powerless.”

Alif, my translator, who himself is a journalist and activist, said, “Jim, he is stuck.” I agreed and the discussion ended there.

What both of my Indonesian friends have in common is a deeply held belief that Indonesians are powerless against the forces of globalization that have swept their country. This belief is rooted in a long and painful history of colonization in Indonesia and it is a mindset that must be broken if Indonesians are to claim the power that they do have over their lives, their workplaces, and the destiny of their nation.

I know in my heart and head what we need to do. We need a massive grassroots education campaign grounded in the theory of Paulo Freire (read the book Pedagogy of the Oppressed). I have actually worked with my Indonesian colleagues and developed an action plan for doing such critical education with the 123,000 workers producing Nike products in Indonesia. The challenge is that the price-tag for its implementation is $175,000 for one year’s worth of work.  But, I know we can make it happen.

Why?

Because in the struggle to make this a reality… we are not powerless.

Peace (and Justice), Jim Keady

NIKE’S INDONESIAN WORKERS ARE STILL PAID A POVERTY WAGE

January 31st, 2011

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Team Sweat:

After a day of settling in and enjoying some of the sights of Jakarta (national monument, national mosque, etc.), this evening I had my first meeting with a Nike factory worker during this trip. This particular worker is a long-time friend and colleague of mine in the struggle for justice for Nike’s workers in Indonesia. Our conversation was one of the most productive I have had in my more than 10 years of working on this issue.

We sat around a table at a hotel in Jakarta, ordered some coffee, tea, and french fries and got right down to brass tacks.

Workers at this particular Nike shoe factory are currently being paid Rp.1.243.000 ($138) per month for their basic wage. Along with their salary, they receive transportation to and from the factory by one of two means - there is a company bus provided for them or if they do not live on the bus route, they receive a transportation allowance of Rp.10.000 per day. They also receive one meal at the factory or if a meal is not provided, they receive a meal allowance of Rp.4.500 per day.

I also learned that workers are able to earn marginally more than the basic wage via the company promotion system. When a worker starts out at the factory, they are considered at “Level 1″ and are paid the basic wage of Rp.1.243.000. They are then assessed after three months. If they meet their production targets and their attendance is good, they will be promoted to Level 1A and for this they receive an additional Rp.16.000 per month in pay. They will be evaluated in another three months and if they pass, they are promoted to Level 1B and they receive an additional Rp.5.000. There are levels 1A to 1F and then they hit Level 2 that also goes from 2A through 2F.

Here is a breakdown of the entire promotion system.

Level 1 Rp.1.243.000
Level1A Rp.1.259.000
Level 1B Rp.1.264.000
Level 1C Rp.1269.000
Level 1D Rp.1.274.000
Level 1E Rp.1.279.000
Level 1F Rp.1.284.000
Level 2 Rp1.303.000

Level 2A Rp.1.308.000
Level 2B Rp.1.313.000
Level 2C Rp.1.318.000
Level 2D Rp1.323.000
Level 2E Rp.1.328.000
Level 2F Rp.1.333.000

So, the maximum salary that a operational level worker (sewing, cutting, assembling…) can make is Rp1.333.000 ($148) per month. To earn this salary, working in production groups of 250, cutting, sewing and assembling the shoes, workers produce 900 pairs of sneakers in 8 hours, that is 112.5 sneakers per hour or 1.875 sneakers per minute.

Let’s take a worker who is making the maximum (Level 2F) and see what they can afford for their toil on the production line.

They start the month with Rp1.333.000.

Rent = Rp.200.000
Transportation (beyond work-related travel) = Rp.600.000
Drinking Water = Rp.110.000

If you add up these three major expenses, they are Rp.910.000. Subtract the Rp.910.000 from Rp.1.333.000 and you are left with Rp.423.000. Divide that Rp.423.000 by 30 days and you have Rp.14.100 to spend each day on food, clothing, soap, toothpaste, education for your kids, and anything and everything else one might need to have to feel like a full human being.

Well…

One meal of rice, vegetables and a piece of chicken are going to cost you Rp.8.000 at the local food stall. A bottle of locally made iced-tea would cost you Rp.3.000. A snack of two bananas would cost you Rp.6.000.

You do the math.

Seriously, take a moment and do the math.

I asked my friend what a living wage would be for a Nike factory worker in the area where he and his fellow workers live. He said that for a worker that is single, it would be Rp,3.500.000 per month ($387) and for a worker supporting a family of four, it would be Rp.4.500.000 ($498).

I shared with him that to make this happen, to be able to pay Nike’s Indonesian workers a living wage, it would only be an additional $5 in production costs for a pair of sneakers. I told him that there are tens of thousands of consumers in the United States and around the world that will support workers if they make this demand of Nike. I also shared that it is imperative that we expose the lies that Nike tells the world about workers’ wages (Ex. Phil Knight stating that Nike factory workers are “absolutely” paid a living wage, “no, question about it.”)

He agreed, and tomorrow afternoon, after my morning panel discussion with the Jakarta Foreign Correspondents Club, he will go on camera and tell his story to the world. He has also agreed to set up meetings with workers from other factories to get their stories and the truth on the record. Stay tuned.

He did express to me that many of his fellow workers are still afraid to speak up and demand the justice they deserve. To let them know that there is support for them around the world, can you take a moment and write a comment to this note? Please tell Nike’s workers in Indonesia that you stand with them in solidarity!

Peace (and Justice), Jim Keady

STUDENT ACTIVISTS AT XAVIER UNIVERSITY ARE TELLING NIKE “JESUIT VALUES ARE NON-NEGOTIABLE” - WILL YOU JOIN THEM?

January 26th, 2011

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Team Sweat:

I just did a Skype session with student activists from Xavier University.  Xavier currently has a major endorsement deal with Nike and these students want to use that relationship to bring Nike’s business practices more in line with Catholic, Jesuit values.  If Xavier is going to be a marketing agent for Nike, then Nike needs to know loud and clear that there are some non-negotiables for Jesuit school.

1. Nike must disclose wage rates at all their factories around the world.  Nike has made the claim that “transparency is the first step to open-source problem solving” but to date, they have refused to tell consumers, investors and university partners how much workers are actually paid at their factories.  This basic information is important, because as Catholics, we have strong teaching on a worker’s right to a living wage.  How can we know if Nike is paying a living wage if they won’t even give us this baseline data?

2. Nike must ensure that workers at their factories are paid a living wage and provide proof of this reality.  A living wage, as defined by Catholic Social Teaching, is a “family wage,” meaning that it would allow the wage-earner to be able to provide food, clothing, housing, health care, education, modest recreation and modest savings for themselves AND their family members.  To date, there is no evidence that Nike workers are earning living wages in the developing countries where Nike products are made.  If you are interested in seeing what a living wage would be for factory workers in a developing country, please check out this story about the Alta Gracia company. If Alta Gracia can do it, so can Nike.

http://altagraciaapparel.com/story/living-wage-and-its-impact

3. Nike must agree to take part in tri-party negotiating sessions (Nike, factory owners, trade unions) and these sessions must result in binding tri-party collective bargaining agreements (union contracts).  Catholic Social Teaching is clear on both workers’ rights to form trade unions and an employer’s responsibility to bargain with these unions in good faith.

These are the non-negotiable items that student activists at Xavier are going to be bringing to their community.  Their goal is to have the university President, the university Athletic Director, and the Head Men’s Basketball Coach publicly bring these demands to Nike.

DO YOU WANT TO JOIN THIS FIGHT FOR ECONOMIC JUSTICE?

The student activists at Xavier are looking to network and join forces with students on other Jesuit campuses.  If you want to work with them to start a similar campaign on your campus, please contact Jerry Patron-Cano.

Jerry’s email: patroncanog@xavier.edu

Jerry’s cell phone: 812-371-7125

Jerry on FB: http://www.facebook.com/jerry.patron

If you have any questions that you would like to ask me about this campaign effort, please post it here or send me an email at jim@educatingforjustice.org.

AMDG

(This is the abbreviated version of the Jesuit motto “Ad maiorem Dei gloriam” or “For the greater glory of God.”)

Peace (and Justice), Jim Keady 

NIKE AND CATHOLIC SOCIAL TEACHING: A CHALLENGE TO THE CHRISTIAN MISSION AT ST. JOHN’S UNIVERSITY

January 20th, 2011

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Nike and Catholic Social Teaching:

A Challenge to the Christian Mission at St. John’s University

A term paper by

James W. Keady

For

Catholic Social Teaching

St. John’s University, NY

Spring 1998

When I first began my research for this paper I had no idea of the incredible journey it would lead me.  As a graduate assistant soccer coach at St. John’s University pursuing a master’s degree in pastoral theology, what started as a simple research paper hoping to link moral theology and sport turned into a hard life lesson in big money, power and politics.  Also, for the first time in my life I was awakened to the reality of attempting to live the justice of the Gospel.  Never in my wildest dreams could I have foreseen what would unfold from exploring the possibility that the Nike Corporation was a possible violator of Catholic Social Teaching.

To give a full account of what has transpired around this issue and the implications of such, I would have to write a book (and I may just yet).  The purpose of this paper is multifaceted and will focus on the following areas: 1) general background on the issue at hand; 2) raw capitalism; 3) Nike as an example of raw capitalism; 4) Nike as a violator of Catholic Social teaching; 5) Nike relationship with St. John’s University; 6) Saying no to Nike, a matter of conscience.

General Background Information

How did I get involved with an issue that would open my eyes to the stream of injustice that flows through our economic system, that would begin to stir the moral conscience of the largest Catholic University in the United States, and would force me to rethink my values and eventually put them to the test?  I have my friend and professor Paul Surlis to thank for this.  It was he who suggested that I attempt to find a topic for my research paper that would somehow link theology and sport.

As I searched and searched I met dead end after dead end.  Nothing quite grabbed me in a way that made we want to dig in and start writing.  Then, very casually, I became aware of a potential “issue” that was of interest to me.  In an edition of St. John’s Today, the official publication of St. John’s University, there was an editorial written by a fellow graduate student titled, “Michael vs. Vincent.”  The writer of this editorial was very generally questioning the business relationship that existed between St. John’s and the Nike Corporation.  A few days after reading this, I happened to read another article in one of the major New York publications criticizing Nike and their business practices.  My interest was now piqued; I had found my topic!  I did a few days of initial research and what I found astounded me.

The following week there was a response to the editorial in St. John’s Today by St. John’s Athletic Director, Ed Manetta.  I was shocked at what was included in this letter.  It seems he was attempting to exonerate both Nike’s business practices and the University’s relationship with Nike.  At this point I had only done limited research, but was already certain that in no way were Nike’s hands clean of misdoing.  I wanted to respond to Mr. Manetta’s assertions, but I wanted to have substantial evidence for the challenge I was going to make.

I assert that as a Catholic university we should not be benefiting from nor be a marketing agent for a company (Nike) that violates the social teaching of the Church and the mission of the university.  To this end I have done months of research that have led me to conclude the following.  1) The Nike Corporation has been one of the grossest violators of workers rights and the entire body of Catholic Social Teaching.  2) By St. John’s being in a contract with said corporation we are in violation of the social teaching of the Church, the Catechism of the Church, the mission of the University, and the social justice implications of the Gospel.

Raw Capitalism

To understand the issue at hand I believe one must first have a general understanding of why capitalism or raw capitalism is by its nature counter to the ethos of Christianity.  What is raw capitalism?  One might claim that raw capitalism results when the laws of a capitalist economic system are taken to their extreme.  It is capitalism without conscience.  It completely removes the human element; meaning that its sole concern is the maximization of profit not human or workers’ rights.  It is a machine of production that when put in motion seeks a strict bottom line with no regard for ethics.  Again, its only concern is the maximization of profit no matter what the cost to the environment or human beings.

If we look to CST for greater insight into how capitalism is defined we find, “…The position that defends the exclusive right to private ownership of the means of production as an untouchable ‘dogma’ of economic life.” (LE, section 14)  This position however is not completely supported by the Church teaching.  The right to private property is not “untouchable.”

“This right, which is fundamental for the autonomy and development of the person, has always been defended by the church up to our own day.  At the same time, the church teaches that the possession of material goods is not an absolute right, and that its limits are inscribed in its very nature as a human right.” (CA, section 30)

Unfortunately the reality that occurs is when the system behind this “dogma” is set in motion, what is created is an economic machine that has one goal, the maximization of profit.  In order to fully realize the potential of this goal it becomes necessary for all elements of the economic equation to be quantified or commodified.  This includes the commodification of human labor.  This in itself runs completely counter to the body of CST and the Christian ethic.  “The Church’s teaching has always expressed the strong and deep conviction that man’s work concerns not only the economy but also, and especially, personal values.  The economic system itself and the production process benefit precisely when these personal values are fully respected.” (LE section 15)

When we begin to see people as cogs in the machine of production, we run the risk of dehumanizing work and violating the Divine sanctity of those who are affected by such actions.  We must constantly keep in mind that work and the economy are for persons, and not persons for work and the economy.

“In truth, however, the economy is a human reality, not one that transcends human control.  The economy is a system set up by human choices, that should serve human needs, and that can be changed by human decisions.” (Thompson, 40)

We must as Christians continue to struggle to awaken people’s consciences to the fact that the “bottom line” is not the final measure of success.  What are most important is that all people are treated with basic human dignity and that their basic economic needs are met to ensure this.

The issues of raw capitalism and human work become particularly interesting and complex when dealing with multi-national corporations or MNC’s.

“MNC’s are central actors in the globalization of the world economy, that is, in the increasing integration of national economies into an international market.  They are not the pawns of any state, rich or poor, but independent actors, influenced by a global market which they in large part create and manipulate, and from which they profit.  The global economy has become fiercely competitive and unforgiving of efficiency; it seems to transcend the control of even the most powerful governments or corporations.” (Thompson, 40)

Although I agree with the spirit of the above statement, I think it necessary to clarify that MNC’s are not completely “independent” actors.  They do benefit quite a bit from their relations with the state, i.e. labor laws, use of military or police…  The reality that we are faced with then is MNC’s following the rules of the economic system to their extreme and the result is raw capitalism.  In doing this we see said corporations searching the world for the cheapest resources in which human labor is included.  By these actions “…a small number of very rich men have been able to lay upon the masses of the poor a yoke little better than slavery itself.” (RN, section 2)

In searching for the cheapest resources, i.e. labor, we are faced with the question of a just wage.  The logic of the system would have the dollar amount placed on wages to reflect whatever the market will bear and quite unfortunately, this is the reality that exists.  Recognizing this reality, it is our duty as Christians to seek out those who take advantage of the current system and exploit human workers.  We must continually struggle with this injustice and demand of corporations that they pay a just wage, a living wage.

What is a just wage or living wage?  Again we can look to CST for our answer.  A just wage is such that “…the remuneration must be enough to support the wage earner in reasonable and frugal comfort.” (RN, section 34)   More specifically, a just wage is one that would allow the earner to procure the following for themselves and their family: food, housing, clothing, health care, and education.

This issue of wages is of paramount importance.  So much so that Pope John Paul II makes the statement:

The key problem of social ethics in this case is that of just remuneration for work done.  In the context of the present there is no more important way for securing a just relationship between the worker and the employer than that constituted by remuneration for work…  Hence in every case a just wage is the concrete means of verifying the justice of the whole socioeconomic system and, in any case, of checking that it is functioning justly.  It is not the only means of checking, but it is a particularly important one and in a sense the key means.  (LE, section 19)

What we see though is case after case of this injustice, paying a substandard wage, practiced throughout the world by MNC’s.  Their defense is that they are investing and creating jobs in places that otherwise would be devastated by poverty.

“MNC’s argue that they invest large amounts of capital in developing countries and bring sophisticated technology and management skills there which create jobs, produce goods and services, and increase economic growth.  Critics contend that the MNC’s control capital and technology, introduce inappropriate technology (tractors instead of tillers), manipulate markets and crush cultures through advertising (infant formula instead of breast milk, Coca-Cola instead of fruit juice), and in the end take the profits home.  These critics interpret such MNC operations as neo-colonialism.”(Thompson, 42)

It is this neo-colonialism that Thompson speaks of that can be so devastating to a developing country’s labor force and resources.  “Whatever its national origin, a MNC seeks to maximize its own interests and those of its shareholders, rather than the interests of any country or of the poor.”  (Thompson, 40)  What fuels this neo-colonialism, are cheap resources, slack environmental laws and a work force that is desperate for jobs yet completely vulnerable to the whims and needs of the MNC’s.  As a result of this we see vast exploitation of workers throughout developing countries.  Again, MNC’s will attempt to defend their paying less than a living wage by making the claim that if they weren’t there people wouldn’t be making any wages.  The harsh reality of this is, if they have to raise wages they will leave.  CST speaks very strongly to such beliefs and actions.  “If through necessity or fear of a worse evil, the workman accepts harder conditions because and employer or contractor will give him no better, he is the victim of force and injustice.” (RN, section 34)

Nike as an Example of Raw Capitalism

How does Nike fit the mold of an MNC using or rather exploiting the current global economic situation?  Recall that one of the key elements of raw capitalism is finding the cheapest source of labor.  Companies search the world for social and political climates that are conducive to such practices.   The two most pressing factors that make certain countries attractive to MNC’s are 1) a labor force that is in dire need of work, 2) a labor force that is not allowed to organize and collectively bargain for better conditions and wages.  Historically, based on their actions, Nike is a company that exploits these conditions.

The following, which was written by a Portland middle school student (very encouraging for the future), begins to give us some indication of Nike’s exploitative business practices.

In 1984 the $5.2 billion dollar Nike Corp. closed its last U.S. factory and moved its entire production to cheap labor in Asia.  Some 65,000 Nike U.S. shoe workers lost their jobs because of the move overseas (Putnam, Internet).  Making these sport shoes does benefit developing countries.  It brings money jobs and some skills are shared.  However, Nike’s target is not so.  As Taiwan and South Korea democratized, unions became legal, and wages began to rise, Nike immediately began to look for new undeveloped havens of low wages.  New operations were set up in Indonesia, China, Vietnam, Pakistan, and Thailand.  Nike now has a work force of only 8,000 employees.  The 350,000 people who make their shoes in Asia (Hua, “Nike Protest Charges Abuse of Employees.”) are employed by subcontractors, not Nike. (Glenn, 1)

The above gives a general idea of how Nike operates.  Nike seems to be a classic example of a neo-colonialist company.  “Although MNC’s are not in the development business, their investment of capital, technology, and management skills, which can create jobs and foreign exchange for developing countries, can contribute to economic development.  The question is: whose interests does this private foreign direct investment serve?” (Thompson, 40)  I believe if we look at Nike’s track record we can gain greater perspective on where their interests lie and who their investment is serving.  The following includes parts of the “Nike Chronology” that was compiled by Global Exchange in 1997, which documents Nike’s trend of exploitation and oppression of its worker’s rights.

1970s

Nike shoes are made in Taiwan and South Korea.  When workers organize for better wages, Nike pulls out and begins production in Indonesia, the People’s Republic of China and Vietnam.

July 28, 1992

Indonesian government raises the minimum wage by 500Rp (USD $0.40) from 2,100Rp to 2,600Rp (USD $1.10).  However, the Sung H Dunia factory in Indonesia fails to comply with the new minimum wage regulation by paying workers an increase of only 120 Rupiah (USD $.09) per day.

September 28, 1992

6,500 workers at the Sung Hwa Dunia factory in Indonesia stage a one day strike and demand better wages, facilities and working conditions.  Some of the workers’ demands are met and all workers go back to work on September 30, 1992.

January 1993

24 Indonesian workers are accused of organizing the September 28th strike and all 24 are fired.

1995

Dusty Kidd, Director of Nike’s Labor Practices Department admits (in a press conference in 1997), “probably 80 percent of the Nike contracted factories” applied for and received minimum wage exemptions for the last two years.  Nike paid workers in Indonesia below a minimum wage until April 1997.

Chinese New Year 1997

The Wellco Factory management in China pays workers half their regular wage forcing workers to go on strike until management agrees to pay their full wages.

March 1997

The Assembly Production department at the Wellco factory goes on strike because they were not paid their full wages.  All workers involved are fired.

April 1, 1997

The minimum wage for factories in the Jakarta area of Indonesia rise from $2.25 to $2.46 per day.

April 22, 1997

10,000 workers from the HASI factory in Indonesia go on a four-mile protest march because their paychecks do not reflect the new minimum wage increase.  The management had stripped workers of an attendance bonus to offset the rising minimum wage.  Workers on strike are nervous about the factory’s application for an exemption from the minimum wage.  HASI had, in fact applied for the waiver, along with other Nike producing factories.

April 23, 1997

Nike agrees to pay minimum wage for Indonesian workers.

April 25, 1997

1,300 workers at the Sam Yang factory in Vietnam go on strike to request a one-cent per hour raise in their salaries.  Refusing to submit to threats of termination, the workers remain behind locked gates within the factory grounds.  Other issues include excessive and illegal overtime, compensation for working with hazardous material and emergency medical services for night shift workers.

April 30, 1997

International Confederation of Free Trade Unions denounces Nike operations in Indonesia and Vietnam.

May 7, 1997

1,800 workers at the Sam Yang factory in Vietnam go on strike for the management to sign a collective bargaining agreement with workers.  Less than a week later, Sam Yang management states it intent to fire up to 700 workers involved in the strike.

July 1997

9 workers are in jail, 300 are injured, 97 are terminated from their jobs and cases are issued against 800 workers at the Youngone factory in Bangladesh after the police disrupt a labor demonstration in the Dheli Export Processing Zone.  The factory’s main buyer is Nike.

September 21, 1997

A report by two Hong Kong human rights groups cites “poor conditions” in factories.  It charges that workers – mostly young women, some of them children – from rural provinces in China are forced “to put in excessive amounts of overtime to keep their jobs.”  The report claims Nike violates up to 10 Chinese labor laws with respect to minimum wage, overtime, child labor and more.

November 10, 1997

Dara O’Rourke, an independent consultant with the United Nations performed environmental audits of at least 50 factories in Vietnam.  During his visits, he performed walk-through audits in the factories and interviewed management personnel and interviewed workers confidentially outside the factory (O’Rourke is fluent in Vietnamese).  His evaluation of the Nike Tae Kwang Vina factory revealed low pay (the lowest of all 50 factories audited), health and safety hazards, sexual harassment and violations of numerous Vietnamese labor laws.  O’Rourke was leaked an internal audit performed by Nike’s accounting firm Ernst and Young by a disgruntled Nike employee.  O’Rourke says Ernst and Young mistakenly reports  Nike is in compliance with the Vietnamese minimum wage law of 19 cents per hour.  However this internal document shows Nike pays workers… 20% below Vietnamese minimum wage law.

It seems obvious from this limited listing of facts and events that Nike business practices are exploitative.  They have consistently violated the two most fundamental workers’ rights, 1) the right to a living wage, 2) the right to organize.  In doing such, they have made themselves a perfect example of an MNC that takes advantage of the exploitative nature of raw capitalism.  Also in doing this they have become one of the grossest violators of Catholic Social Teaching.

Nike and the US Bishops’ Economic Justice for All

While I believe Nike’s business practices to be in violation of the spirit of the entire body of CST I felt that it would serve best to focus on one particular letter.  The letter I have chosen is Economic Justice for All, which was written in 1986 by the US Bishops as an analysis of the current economic situation, the injustices that are inherent to it, and possible suggestions for improving the plight of the poor and oppressed.  Since Nike is an American company I felt that this particular document would do well to shed light on the injustices that are occurring within the context of an American based multi-national.  To this end, I will offer commentary on a number of points that are brought up in the letter that I feel are most relevant to this discussion. 

“Our faith calls us to measure this economy, not only by what it produces, but also by how it touches human life and whether it protects or undermines the dignity of the human person.” (Section 1)  I believe this statement is the essence of Nike’s violation of CST.  Their concern, as a multi-national working within a capitalist system, is the bottom line.  They are to minimize costs and maximize profits.  In doing so, as discussed earlier, they commodify labor and “undermine the dignity of the human person.”

The two major issues of concern with regards to Nike’s business practices are their continual failure to pay a living wage and their desire to conduct business in countries where workers are not allowed to organize and collectively bargain for basic human rights.  These human rights “are the minimum conditions for life in a community.  In Catholic Social teaching, human rights include not only civil and political rights but also economic rights.” (Section 17)  Although Nike claims they believe in and fully support the rights of their workers, “We cannot separate what we believe from how we act in the marketplace and the broader community, for this is where we make our primary contribution to the pursuit of economic justice.” (Section 25)

To gain some perspective on the scope of the injustice of Nike’s business practices, it would serve us well to have the following information.  To begin, Nike has made some strides in addressing the allegations that they are violating the rights of their workers in their Asian factories.  On May 12, 1998 Phil Knight, CEO of Nike announced “New Labor Initiatives” which show promise but unfortunately do not adequately address the two areas of greatest concern, wages and the right to organize.  From their report for Community Aid Abroad, “Sweating for Nike,” by Tim O’Connor and Jeff Atkinson we can learn the following about how Nike is addressing these two critical issues.

For a start, the Code and Memorandum make no mention of the right of workers to organize and to bargain collectively – although the company says it “allows independent trade unions in all of its contracted factories” (Bours 1996).  These are the most fundamental of all workers rights, internationally recognized and set down by the International Labor Organization (ILO) in its Conventions Nos 87 and 98.  (The ILO is an international body consisting of representatives from government, business and the union movement, which establishes international standards for workers rights.

The guidelines of the Athletic Footwear Association (AFA) mentioned above call on members to only do business with contractors whose workers are “allowed the right of free association and not exploited in any way.”  Nike’s Code and Memorandum should at the very least be in line with these industry-wide guidelines.

Also needed in the Code and Memorandum is the principle that wage levels should be sufficient to allow workers to meet their basic needs for adequate food, shelter, sanitation, and health care.  All they say is that contractors should comply with local regulations regarding minimum wages.  But, as has been argued above, in most cases this is not enough to fulfill basic needs.  Wage levels should be set by companies not on the basis of government regulation alone, but according to what is needed to allow workers and their families to have adequate diet and housing and to pay for basic necessities such as healthcare.

Along with this I will offer some other quick facts generated by the labor rights watchdog group, Global Exchange.

* Indonesian workers make $2.46 a day.  10,000 Indonesian workers went on strike to protest wages that are below subsistence level.  “If I don’t work overtime, I can’t survive,” says Baltazar at PT Hasi Nike factory in Jakarta.  He works an average of 40 overtime hours a week.

* Vietnamese workers make a $1.60 a day.  1,300 workers at the Sam Yang factory went on strike to demand a one cent per hour raise in wages.  Other issues include excessive and illegal overtime and compensation for working with hazardous materials.

* Chinese workers make a $1.51 a day.  The minimum wage in Dongguan province is $1.93 per day for eight hours of work.  Nike employees get as little as $1.51.  Workers are forced to work from 144-192 overtime hours per month to make ends meet.

To make things worse…

* Philip Knight, CEO of Nike is the sixth richest man in America.  He is worth 5 billion dollars and profits off the backs of sweatshop laborers.

* Nike is the biggest shoe company in the world because it operates in countries where it is illegal to organize and collectively bargain for better wages and working conditions.

* Nike can afford to pay endorsers like Michael Jordan, Tiger Woods and Monica Seles a combined total of over 60 million dollars to brand themselves with the swoosh.

Now, to view these facts in light of CST makes it all the more distressing for those of us who are committed to the social justice implications of the Gospel. By not paying a living wage and conducting business in areas where workers cannot organize, the Nike Corporation specifically violates the following sections of Economic Justice for All and generally violates the spirit of the entire body of Catholic Social teaching.

Section 69

Commutative justice calls for fundamental fairness in all agreements and exchanges between individuals or private social groups.  It demands respect for the equal human dignity of all persons in economic transactions, contracts, or promises.  For example, workers owe their employers diligent work in exchange for their wages.  Employers are obligated to treat their employees as persons, paying them fair wages in exchange for the work done and establishing conditions and patterns of work that are truly human.

Section 73

…Work with adequate pay for all who seek it is the primary means of achieving basic justice.

Section 80

…First among these are the rights to life, food, clothing, shelter, rest, medical care, and basic education.  These are indispensable to the protection of human dignity…  Participation in the life of the community calls for the protection of this same right to employment, as well as the right to healthful working conditions, to wages, and other benefits sufficient to provide individuals and their families with a standard of living in keeping with human dignity, and to the possibility of property ownership.

Section 103

…The way power is distributed in a free market economy frequently gives employers greater bargaining power than employees in the negotiation of labor contracts.  Such unequal power may press workers into a choice between an inadequate wage and no wage at all.  But justice, not charity, demands certain minimum guarantees.  The provision of wages and other benefits sufficient to support a family in dignity is a basic necessity to prevent this exploitation of workers.  The dignity of workers also requires adequate health care, security for old age or disability, unemployment compensation, healthful working conditions, weekly rest, periodic holidays for recreation and leisure, and reasonable security against arbitrary dismissal.  These provisions are all essential if workers are to be treated as persons rather than simply as a “factor of production.”

Section 104

The Church fully supports the right of workers to form unions or other associations to secure their rights to fair wages and working conditions.  This is a specific application of the more general right to associate.  In the words of Pope John Paul II, “The experience of history teaches that organizations of this type are an indispensable element of social life, especially in modern industrialized societies”… No one may deny the right to organize without attacking human dignity itself.

Section 105

Denial of the right to organize has been pursued ruthlessly in many countries beyond our borders.  We vehemently oppose violations of the freedom to associate, wherever they occur, for they are an intolerable act on social solidarity.

Section 111

Large corporations and large financial institutions have considerable power to help shape economic institutions within the United States and throughout the world.  With this power goes responsibility and the need for those who manage it to be held to moral and institutional accountability.

Section 256

In this arena, where fact and ethical challenges intersect, the moral task is to devise rules for the major actors that will move them toward a just international order.  One of the most vexing problems is that of reconciling the transnational corporations’ profit orientation with the common good that they, along with governments and their multilateral agencies, are supposed to serve.

Section 279

…Foreign investors, attracted by low wage rates in less developed countries, should consider both potential loss of jobs in the home country and the potential exploitation of workers in the host country.

Section 280

Although the ability of the corporations to plan, operate, and communicate across national borders without concern for domestic considerations makes it harder for governments to direct their activities toward the common good, the effort should be made; the Christian ethic is incompatible with a primary or exclusive focus on maximization of profit.

With the above sections of CST fresh in mind, it seems quite obvious that Nike is a long way from living up to the standards set by CST.  It is for this reason that I have grave concern with the current relationship between Nike and St. John’s University.  In the section that follows I shall explore this in greater detail.

Nike and their Partnership with St. John’s University

For those of you not familiar with St. John’s University please allow me to share with you an excerpt of the university mission statement.

St. John’s is a Catholic university, founded in 1870 in response to an invitation of the first Bishop of Brooklyn, John Loughlin, to provide the youth of the city with an intellectual and moral education.  WE embrace the Judeo-Christian ideals of respect for the rights and dignity of every person and each individual’s responsibility for the world in which we live.  We commit ourselves to create a climate patterned on the life and teaching of Jesus Christ as embodied in the traditions and practices of the Roman Catholic Church.  Our community which comprises members of many faiths, strives for an openness which is “wholly directed to all that is true, all that deserves respect, all that is honest, pure, admirable, decent, virtuous, or worthy of praise” (Philippians 4:8). Thus, the university is a place where the church reflects upon itself and the world as it engages in dialogue with other religious traditions.

St. John’s is a Vincentian university, inspired by St. Vincent de Paul’s compassion and zeal for service.  We strive to provide excellent education for all people, especially those lacking economic, physical, or social advantages.  Community service programs combine with reflective learning to enlarge the classroom experience.  Wherever possible, we devote our intellectual and physical resources to search out the causes of poverty and social injustice and to encourage solutions which are adaptable, effective, and concrete.  In the Vincentian tradition, we seek to foster a world view and to further efforts toward global harmony and development, by creating an atmosphere in which all may imbibe and embody the spirit of compassionate concern for others so characteristic of Vincent. (Mission Statement of St. John’s University.

It is because of this consistent claim to following the Vincentian ideal that is so committed to searching out the “causes of poverty and social injustice” that makes St. John’s contract with Nike so distressing.  As one can see from the section on Nike and CST above, Nike is most definitely in violation of the social teaching of the Church.  How then can the largest Catholic university in the west allow themselves to be prostituted as a promoting agent by said company?  It would seem that Nike is no more concerned with the mission of the Vincentians than they are with paying a living wage!  How are we at St. John’s allowing ourselves and our mission to be compromised?

I will offer this example for you to ponder.  Let us imagine that Planned Parenthood, one of the largest suppliers of abortions in the United States was to offer St. John’s 3.5 million dollars for their pharmacy school.  I would have to imagine that St. John’s, citing the moral teaching of the Church, would claim that accepting these funds would compromise the integrity of the university.  Another example, perhaps a well-known organized crime family were to offer St. John’s 3.5 million dollars to build a new chapel.  I would hope that again, University officials would feel that entering such a relationship would seriously compromise the integrity of the University and they would decline.  Why then is there this compromise of the Christian ethic when it comes to the Nike Corporation?

I have my own theory as to why the administration is so quick to defend and attempt to vindicate the Nike Corporation.  They want the money!  Also, I am quite sure that the administration is somewhat concerned and embarrassed that this issue was brought to light by a number of graduate and undergraduate students.  Therefore, to save face, they have entered into months long scrambling and avoidance of the issue hoping that Nike will come around or that we, the activists, will go away.  Unfortunately for them neither has occurred.

To be honest I am very troubled and confused as to how the administration can morally justify our relationship with the Nike Corporation.  Perhaps if the following questions were answered I might have a better understanding of their position.

1. Is it morally acceptable for workers to be paid less than a living wage?

2. Is it morally acceptable for workers to be refused to right to organize and collectively bargain for better wages and working conditions?

3. Are both of these basic human rights, the refusal to pay a living wage and not allowing workers to organize violations of the social teaching of the Church?

4. Is it morally acceptable to benefit from a company that violates the rights of its workers and maximizes its profits by doing so?

5. Are we not benefiting from such a situation by being in a relationship with the Nike Corporation?

6. If Nike’s business practices are morally unacceptable is it not our Christian duty to publicly pressure them into change?

7. What are we specifically going to do to try and change Nike?

8. Is it true that there is an anti-defamation clause in our contract, as is standard in all Nike’s contracts with universities, that does not allow coaches or administrators to be publicly critical of Nike?

9. If there is such a clause, does this not limit our academic freedom, our ability to be publicly critical, and an individual’s right to dissent?  And, if Nike’s labor practices are as good as Phil Knight says why is this clause necessary?

I am very interested to know the answers to these questions, as I believe they define

the parameters of the issue at hand.  On a more personal note, I want the answers to these questions, because it was on these that I was forced to make a most difficult decision.

Saying no to Nike, a Matter of Conscience

The decision was to wear Nike and drop the issue, or resign.  I was given this ultimatum in May by one of the athletic administrators.  Ironically, on that same day, May 12, 1998, Phil Knight held his press conference to announce his “New Labor Initiatives.”  At first I was elated by the news.  I believed Nike had come around and my conscience could rest easy knowing our University was in a contract with a company that was committed to justice, specifically to worker’s rights.  Unfortunately as I read though the transcripts of the press conference it became distressingly obvious that Nike had not significantly addressed the issues of wages or the workers’ rights to organize.  Therefore, I decided the issue could not be dropped.  The dialogue must continue.  The University must be publicly pressured to reconcile how we can remain in this contract and stay committed to our mission and the social justice implications of the Gospel.

All of this lay heavy on my conscience.  I was a coach for one of the most successful college soccer programs of the 1990’s.  I truly felt that in the coming year, with the team we had returning, that I would be able to realize the dream as a coach that I did not realize myself as a player; to win an NCAA championship.  Now I was faced with the challenge of putting this dream on the line.

I couldn’t believe that I was being forced to make this decision.  I believed and still do that I was following the true spirit of the mission of university and the Gospel by making this a public issue.  I had no idea what consequences these actions would hold.  I simply could not allow myself to sit back while our Catholic university was benefiting from profits made on the backs of the poor.

Now was the time to decide how committed I was to the cause.  The decision was laid before me.  Show your allegiance to a company that violates the body of CST and the mission of the university or show your allegiance to the pursuit of the social justice implications of the Gospel.  I wish I could say the choice was easy.  Thanks to God, through prayer and reflection the truth pierced through to my heart of hearts and I knew what had to be done.   I resigned.

Works Cited

O’Brien, D.J., and Shannon, T.A., Catholic Social Thought: The Documentary Heritage; Maryknoll, (New York 1997).

Thompson, J. Millburn, Justice and Peace: A Christian Primer; Maryknoll, (New York 1997).

Glenn, T., “Nike’s Cheap Labor,” in Campaign for Labor Rights, www.compugraph.com/clr/alerts/nikey0001.html, March 1998.

Global Exchange, “The Nike Chronology,” in Corporate Accountability, Nike Campaign, www.globalexchange.org/corpacct/nike/chronology.html, March 1998.

O’Connor, T. and Atkinson, J., “Sweating for Nike,” A report on Labor Conditions in the sport shoe industry; Community Aid Abroad Briefing, Paper, No. 16 – November, 1996.

St. John’s University, Mission Statement of St. John’s University, New York; Approved by the Board of Trustees, December of 1991.

$2,000 in $6,000 TO GO! WILL YOU GIVE TO TEAM SWEAT?

December 22nd, 2010

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Team Sweat:

With $2000 in pledges already in, we have $6000 more to go to fully fund my upcoming research and organizing trip to Indonesia.

Will you make TEAM SWEAT part of your holiday giving and contribute $25, $50, $100, $250, $500 towards this effort?

To contribute right now, just click DONATE NOW!

Or if you would like to send a check, please make it payable to Educating for Justice and send it to:

Educating for Justice

1201 Third Avenue, Suite A

Spring Lake, NJ 07762

My last visit to Indonesia to expose conditions for Nike’s workers producing gear for the 2010 World Cup gained international media attention.  Here is a clip from the article that the LA Times ran on June 28, 2010.

“Like any die-hard sports fan, Jim Keady eagerly anticipated soccer’s World Cup. But he isn’t at home watching the matches. Instead, the 38-year-old New Jersey native has been in Indonesia, talking to the workers who make the Nike jerseys worn by nine of the teams in the tournament. For years, the former professional goalie has waged a one-man campaign to highlight Nike’s labor practices, complaining that the company pays Indonesian workers low wages to stitch together the uniforms that have made the company the world’s most successful sports garment manufacturer.”

I am confident my upcoming trip will be just as fruitful.  But it can only happen with the support of people like you.

Your contribution will help me to:

• Present “Behind the Swoosh: Sweatshops and Social Justice” at five Indonesian universities;

• Present a panel discussion on Nike’s sweatshops and labor rights for the Jakarta Foreign Correspondents Club, a non-profit organization for hundreds of foreign journalists based in Indonesia;

• Organize education sessions with workers at five Nike footwear and apparel factories;

• Conduct in-depth organizing meetings with members of the independent trade union at a major Nike footwear factory. I am hoping through these face-to-face discussions that we can finally reach a point where these workers will be ready to make their demands to Nike;

• Conduct a round of field research on wages, spending power, etc. to update my Nike case study;

• Develop a follow up education/organizing plan with my Indonesian team based on the outcomes of the planned meetings with workers.

Again, all this only happens with the financial support of people like you.

Please be sure to follow the latest with the campaign at www.teamsweat.org or www.facebook.com/teamsweat and if you have any questions or suggestions, feel free to email me at jim@educatingforjustice.org or call me at 732.988.7322.

Thanks in advance for your support and Happy Holidays!

Peace,

Jim Keady, Director

Educating for Justice

VIDEO: TEAM SWEAT SUPPORTER MAILS HIS NIKE STUFF BACK TO PHIL KNIGHT

December 21st, 2010

MORE CONSUMERS JOIN TEAM SWEAT TO FIGHT NIKE SWEATSHOPS

December 21st, 2010

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After the presentation, I realized that I am one of those people who feeds into Nike’s (and other) public announcements. I have realized that they make these to brainwash us! They are aware of their wrong doings, and that’s the scary part. Nike, a multi-billion dollar corporation, is sweeping it’s issues under the rug and I believe now’s the time to reveal them.

- Audra Spero

I enjoy the products that Nike makes, but the wages that employees receive in foreign countries such as Indonesia and Vietnam are not acceptable. It isn’t fair and I want to make my voice heard.

- Zachary Jankowski

Today Mr. Keady came to talk at my school. His presentation opened my eyes to a lot of things. I didn’t know that this was happening so drastically because of such major businesses that produce such used materials. I was disgusted by the lies that Nike throws out and the fact that these companies have so much money and cant even give people the amount of money they need to survive. It is inhumane. This is why I decided to join, to see what else I could do.

- Patrick Travis

Mr. Keady presented at my school today. it really opened my eyes to what is really going on behind the closed doors that everyone forgets about. I am a humanist and i back your cause 110%.

- Amanda Figueroa

Jim Keady came to speak to our school and I really want to help.

- Amanda Leigh Gambacorto

As a consumer, a student-athlete and an average person who wants to make a difference, joining Team Sweat is one step in fighting injustice. We learn about it through church and school, but often think “I am only one person.” We need to realize that if just 100 people say that, they are not each just one person anymore, they are 100 people who together can make a difference. We have no choice in the apparel we wear every single day as D1 student-athletes. Instead of being “walking ads” for these corporation, we deserve to be able to speak out and use our influence/publicity for the common good.

- Amelia Karges

(I joined Team Sweat because) because I want to be able to wear Nike products and feel good about it.

- Ashley Gaillot

I’ve seen your short film three times now and I’ve seen you speak. I’ve related to the issues you’ve talked about and want to know more about how I can help.

- Mary Kate Newhouse

I heard Jim Keady speak tonight at St. Louis University and want to learn more about what he does.

- Erin Kofron

Jim Keady just spoke at my school, St Louis University, and really opened my eyes to the gross injustices that, despite what the PR campaigns for different manufacturing companies are saying, still exist and affect people around the world.

- David Gaillardetz

A friend showed me the video about the working conditions in Indonesia and I found it to be a cause worth fighting for. I would like to start a campaign on my campus at Willamette University in Salem, Oregon and raise awareness.

- Lexi Parsagian

All humans have a right to be treated equally. American companies think they can walk over other countries to make a larger profit. It is time to take a stand.

- Adam Hucek

I want to join because I heard Jim Keady speak and It really got me excited and interested. I believe that what Nike does to these people is inhuman and disgusting and I want to do something about it.

- Charlie Veys

Please change my “affiliation” to X-Consumer! I can’t believe how ignorant I’ve been … the more I’m researching this the more disgusted I get. I would LOVE to see Phil Knight on CBS’s reality show “Undercover boss!” Have CBS get his ass to Indonesia!  Your parents must be very proud of your efforts. I would like to learn more and better understand the progress you’ve made. How can people like me help?  A new fan of Team Sweat!

- Lauren St. Amand

Hello my name is German Arredondo. I just finished seeing your video and I was very moved by it. Recently I have noticed things around me and also that America is a very corrupt and greedy country. I have seen many things happening here in my own city as well. I’ve heard of the living conditions and about the extremely low pay that Nike workers receive. At first i didn’t think about it that much until I saw your video. This has opened my eyes. So please I don’t have much money but I’m more then glad to help you in your fight because I know that Nike is one of many corrupt companies in America. I do believe that the hard workers of Nike and other companies should get what they deserve and more. By the way I’m 16 if that makes you feel better because younger people like me should be aware of what is happening. Well thank you for reading this and I hope you can reply soon and I wish you for the best of your fight with Nike and other companies.

- German Arredondo

(I joined Team Sweat) because it is disgusting and degrading what we, as a human race, are allowing to happen in our world.

- Rachel Hiltz

MORE CONSUMERS JOIN TEAM SWEAT TO FIGHT NIKE SWEATSHOPS

December 20th, 2010

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My name is Todd Carr, I am a Freshman at Franklin Pierce University. I play for the baseball team here, and tonight I listened to presentation about the sweat shops around the world. I feel that the Nike corporation must make a change in the way they run their business. I feel it is a civil duty as a U.S. citizen to speak up about this problem and try and make a change.

- Todd Carr

Just enjoyed Jim’s presentation at Georgetown. Keep up the good work!

- Cory Bronenkamp

I saw Jim Keady speak at Georgetown University and it changed my life.  I went on camera and talked about how terrible Nike is.

- Dane Zito

(I joined Team Sweat because I was ) inspired by Jim Keady to make a difference.

- John Patrick Serzan

I am writing a paper about a Nike commercial, “Destiny - Force Fate” in my English class. We are to research the facts behind the origins, history, etc. about Nike and critically analyze this ad and how Nike appeals to consumers. I had found some articles about Nike and Sweatshops. I then thought that I could analyze this paper on Human Rights and Dignity. Then as I was searching for recent articles on Nike & Sweatshops, I found Jim Keady. Unfortunately, I was unaware of his name and his actions.  I am a student at the University of Toronto in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. I want to become a medical doctor and work with Medcins sans frontiers (MSF, Doctors without borders). I believe Human Health must be protected and can be protected.  I am joining Team Sweat because Team Sweat can not only improve wages, but the health of so many people. It is still only a small movement in this large society, but it is a step in eradicating poverty.  I will constantly be aware of this team, and spread the words to my community at UofT. Thanks for taking action, and letting us know the truth.

- Justina Lee

I want to see just wages given to the workers. I love Nike’s products, but we must who and under what conditions are these products being made.

- Anna Wheeler

(I joined Team Sweat) because I want to act.

- Jamie R. Sturdevant

(I joined Team Sweat) to help stop Nike sweatshops.

- Alyssa

I watched Jim Keady’s video of his speech at Suffolk University and his data/ research has convinced me that a lot needs to be done to change Nike’s ways. He has encouraged me to add myself to the numerous people supporting the raise of wages for factory workers overseas.

- Gabrielle Womack

I saw one video posted by one of my friends and I couldn’t believe the tremendous abuse against those human beings and those poor conditions that they deal with it day by day while day by day other people are getting rich with thousands, millions or billions of dollars without caring about the others.

- Talysha Arteaga

I hate sweatshops and they need to be stopped. Team Sweat is doing great things to get the word out about Nike and their bad ethics/business.

- Fatima  Czachorowski

I attended an assembly at my high school, Middletown High School North, this morning where Mr. Keady spoke. Prior to the assembly, I was fortunate enough to have seen the Nike video in my english class. The fight for justice and rights, which should be automatically granted to everyone, can be won and I want to join this fight. Ignorance, stubbornness, and lies will not be accepted in place of human rights and justice, two very simple and required aspects of life. GO TEAM SWEAT!

- Liz Huang

MORE CONSUMERS JOIN TEAM SWEAT TO FIGHT NIKE SWEATSHOPS

December 20th, 2010

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(I joined Team Sweat because of) the message given at St. Norbert College by Jim Keady.

- Kevin Hansen

I am quite young but have never liked Nike. Up until last year i never knew about their sweatshops. I found it disgusting that they force people to work for very low money. I want to help them but I am too young so I thought I could join and stay up to date. Thank You.

- Darcy Stein

People need to come together to help fight the issue of sweatshops.

- Missy Krouth

Jim came to my school, UW-Green Bay, and I was inspired about what he talked about, and I would like to be more informed about things, and hopefully participate in awareness events.

- Megan Geil

I listened to your talk at UW-Green Bay tonight and its just so hard to believe that these people at Nike are so selfish and unwilling to help other people over something as stupid as money. Ive personally been to India once and saw how some of them live. I believe fully in what you are doing and would love to be a part of it!

- Jessie

I joined because I believe everyone should have the right to earn a living wage and live without fear. As citizens of the world we need to take care of each other. So let’s start now.

- Ann M.

These are the types of issues I am studying right now in college. I hear examples of social injustice, stories, and other peoples’ points of view. Rarely do I receive a detailed opportunity of how to affect change. Mr. Keady’s video was pretty much the most detailed, vivid, example of how others live. It is visual evidence…it’s not just an idea in my head that someone mentions through words in a class I’m taking. It’s not rocket science….it’s commonsense. People deserve their rights as a human…it’s mentioned in the United Nations charter, in the preamble. I know what’s important: humanity not stupid pair of shoes that will probably look like crap by the end of a month.

- Stephanie Suchecki

My life goal is to help make a difference in this world. I’m passionate about equality of others no matter the circumstance.

- Brittany Polze

(I joined Team Sweat) because I believe very strongly in the cause and to receive updates on Jim’s work.

- Sara Ewald

I saw Jim Keady’s presentation last night.  It really me think about those problems and I want to see change. And I also am responsible for theose workers because they deserve same treatment I do.

- Jane Yang

I just attended Jim’s presentation at UW Stevens Point and I was very moved. I hate that the workers are proud to have such a terrible job just because they make a little bit of money that doesn’t even allow them to cover their basic needs. They deserve more and I want to help them.

- Nikki Sterling

I want Nike to start taking responsibility by paying their workers a living wage. The quality of their product sets a high standard and already speaks for itself, however they fall short in the human justice category. This is the perfect opportunity for Nike to set the example for other corporations. Please do the right thing Nike.

- Caitlyn Schoenfeld

(I joined Team Sweat) to help in the fight against Nike’s (and others) social injustices.

- Heather Kozlowski

I used to think that Nike’s great products were a great fit for my lifestyle.  Now, I know that as of today it’s damaging others’ lives to buy Nike products.  Jim came to my town yesterday to give the TeamSweat presentation. He opened our eyes to the reality that Nike is trying to ignore. I join him in efforts to stop this abuse of humans in Indonesia and around the world.  I’m taking action by telling friends, emailing Nike with my complaint, and becoming more conscious of my buying habits. For the good of all, I’m taking a stance against this brutality.

- Thew Case

So that I can give you a tiny portion of my time to show that you have supporters. Capitalism is a pyramid and the American consumer is at the top. My conscience prohibits me from knowingly participating in an action that yields a high degree of despair. I’ve been told that living at the top of the pyramid and perpetuating despair are co-morbid. But I often wonder if it’s an obligated relationship.

- Glenn Wills

Workers everywhere should be paid a livable wage.

- Casey Robb

I would like to join Team Sweat because I am very passionate about this topic. I believe that we can make a huge different in the world by stopping the Nike Sweat Shops. I know it will be tons of work but I am willing to go the extra mile to stop this cruelty.

- Tommy Martin

MORE CONSUMERS JOIN TEAM SWEAT TO FIGHT NIKE SWEATSHOPS

December 20th, 2010

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I’m joining Team Sweat because today at CBA, Mr. Keady showed me some very interesting facts today that really opened my eyes, and have forced me to think about what products I buy, and how they were made.

- Sean Groody

On a trip to Indonesia last year I was moved by the level of poverty and shocked at the lack of access to education for children. I understand that kids don’t often get to continue schooling after about age 11, so the poverty perpetuates itself. Thoughts about this have been in the back of my mind for some time.  This morning I heard part of a Keady lecture on a podcast called Phedippidations, which referred me to this website. I can see a clear link between ensuring a living wage for workers and getting kids properly educated. This can break the poverty cycle.  How can I help?

- Darren O’Malley

I just saw (Behind the Swoosh: Sweatshops and Social Justice) at my college. I am going to write to Nike and ask them to treat there employees with more respect.

- Hillary Tarr

(I joined Team Sweat because) I attended the presentation (Behind the Swoosh: Sweatshops and Social Justice)vat my school.

- Ashley Carrier

I saw a presentation (Behind the Swoosh: Sweatshops and Social Justice) at Rivier College and was very interested in the topic. I want to learn more about it and find out what I can do as a student in New Hampshire to make a difference.

- Chloe Landon

I attended Jim Keady’s presentation at school [Rivier College, Nashua, NH] tonight and was astoundingly impressed and inspired by the sacrifices he has made and feats that he has tackled. I was equally impressed by what he had to say. I would consider it a privilege to help take actions to protect human dignity and rights.

- Brittany Maynard

Jim spoke at my college (Rivier) last night and what he said really made me start to think! I really liked the presentation and I want to help the cause.

- Nicole Hauswirth

I am joining Team Sweat because Jim Keady was at my College last night and his presentation really touched me. It made me feel bad for wearing my Nike’s after seeing how they are made.

- Julie Spirito

Go get them Jim!

- Louie Schneider

(I am joining Team Sweat because I) went to Behind the Swoosh at Rivier College.

- Sarah Gagnon

I recently heard about Team Sweat and feel really convicted about the things that I buy. This has been slowly making its way to the top of my priorities for about a year now and I simply cannot ignore it any longer. However, I also know that you cannot just merely deny one thing without having something to replace it with, hopefully something better. How do I determine what companies DO provide appropriate wages and benefits so that I may begin purchasing from them. As an athlete, performance ability is obviously very important, but justice is as well. So, I need to make these things work together. Any helpful advice or points in the right direction will be greatly appreciated. Thank you for caring about our global community. Love wins.

- Amanda Holmes

After hearing Jim Keady’s speech at my school today, I felt compelled to do something to help the people who work in sweatshops for next-to-nothing wages, and I really want ti be a part of the effort.

- Christian Roodal

I learned about these injustices in my Ethics II class at school and was very interested in helping the cause.

- Charisma

I believe that everyone should receive adequate living wages.

- Allejandra Villagomez

Hi my name is Ray, I am a high school student in 10th grade at state college area high school in Pennsylvania. I saw your video behind the swoosh. When i saw that I felt horrible for the people and right away I wanted to put a stop to what Nike was doing. I think what you are doing is great and I really wanna be apart of that.

- Ray Ciervo

Dear Jim Keady, you came to Middletown High School North Yesterday to talk about your cause. Myself and many others want to help with the cause.  I was in the mall yesterday, and I just saw Nike everywhere! I wanted to rip everything right off the shelves, and then an idea came to me: What if we did just that?

During your presentation, it became obvious that Nike could care less about the countless human beings beings with their own lives and their own families exploited and degraded because of Nike’s own greed. So, I came to the conclusion that some focus could be aimed at the stores that sell Nike. I know that many consumers aware of this issue will stop buying Nike, but if you raise the awareness of the stores to the issue of how Nike treats its workers and convince them to stop selling Nike, then that would definitely put an incredible amount of pressure on Nike. I propose to write letters to and visit corporate of companies like JC Pennys, Macys, ect. (Individual Shoe Stores like Feet First will probably be a lot harder to convince, but Nike products only makes up a very small portion of inventory in department stores). And letters to individual stores to give to corporate themselves may also be helpful. Also, a petition on your website for people who will not buy Nike products to sign is also a good idea to present to the stores.  Thank you for your time.

- Amanda Leigh Gambacorto

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A LOOK BACK: PROTESTING NIKE’S SWEATSHOPS AT THE DEPARTMENT OF LABOR

October 19th, 2010

Team Sweat:

I am in the midst of writing my book, “SWEAT” and I came across I speech I gave in the summer of 1999 on the steps of the Department of Labor in Washington, DC. This was at a rally that was organized by the United Students Against Sweatshops (www.usas.org) in protest of the Apparel Industry Partnership, a corporate front group that was established by President Clinton. After I gave this speech, I was approached by Joel Joseph, a labor attorney who happened to be in the crowd. It was Mr. Joseph who helped me file my lawsuit against St. John’s and Nike (which I eventually lost on appeal) and through that action, we brought the Nike sweatshop issue to the masses. This speech was a major catalyst for where I am at today in terms of this work.

Given how much time has passed since these early days of my involvement with this issue, it is nice to remind myself and our Team Sweat supporters, why we are in this fight for justice.

The speech is below. I hope you enjoy it.

Peace, Jim Keady

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Good afternoon, my name is Jim Keady and I am here today to tell you about my story with Nike. In July of 1997 I began as an assistant coach of the Men’s soccer team at St. John’s University. It was a coaching dream. I had joined the staff of one of the hottest college soccer programs of the 90’s fresh off their 1996 NCAA Division 1 National Championship.

Along with my coaching, I began pursuing a master’s degree in theology. In one of my classes I was working on a paper that was examining Nike’s labor practices in light of moral theology. Simultaneously St. John’s University was negotiating a multi-million dollar contract with the Nike Corporation that would supply equipment and funding to all of the university’s athletic teams.

I took serious issue with this impending deal. I had done months of research that led me to conclude the following. 1) The Nike Corporation has been one of the grossest violators of workers rights. 2) By St. John’s being in a contract with this corporation we are an indirect enabler of Nike’s injustices; we are in violation of the mission of the University and the social justice implications of the Gospel.

Therefore I asserted, that as a Catholic university, we should not be benefiting from nor be a marketing agent for Nike. This was a contract that was estimated in excess of 3.5 million dollars in product and cash. This money was most certainly made on the backs of the poor. I personally did not want to be a billboard for a company whose business practices are unethical and promote injustice; a company that has consistently chosen the maximization of profit over human dignity.

Knowing that this issue was of crucial importance I decided that it must be pursued in the public realm. When I first began this, it was only a research paper. I had no idea of the incredible journey on which it would lead me. What started as a simple research paper, hoping to link moral theology and sport, turned into a hard life lesson in big money power and politics. The issue, whether or not St. John’s should be in a relationship with Nike, went public in the student newspaper on February 22, 1998. From that day it became and still is one of the most hotly debated topics in the schools recent history. News of this spread from our small campus in Queens and news stories and editorials on this issue at St. John’s have appeared in the New York Times, Newsday, the Boston Globe, the Philadelphia Inquirer and most recently the story has been syndicated nationally by the associated press.

By pursuing this publicly, my actions would cost me. In mid-May of 1998 I was given an ultimatum by University officials, wear Nike and drop the issue, or resign.

I was deeply troubled by this. I knew from my research that Nike had not significantly addressed the issues of wages or the workers’ rights to organize. Therefore, I decided the issue could not be dropped. The dialogue must continue. The University must be publicly pressured to reconcile how we can remain in this contract and stay committed to our mission and the social justice implications of the Gospel.

All of this lay heavy on my conscience. I was a coach for one of the most successful college soccer programs of the 1990’s. I truly felt that in the coming year, with the team we had returning, that I would be able to realize the dream as a coach that I did not realize myself as a player; to win an NCAA championship. Now I was faced with the challenge of putting this dream on the line.

I couldn’t believe that I was being forced to make this decision. I believed and still do that I was following the true spirit of the mission of university and the Gospel by making this a public issue. I had no idea what consequences these actions would hold. I simply could not allow myself to sit back while our Catholic University was benefiting from profits made on the backs of the poor.

Now was the time to decide how committed I was to the cause. The decision was laid before me. Show your allegiance to a company that violates basic human and workers’ rights or show your allegiance to the pursuit of social justice. I wish I could say the choice was easy. Thanks to God, through prayer and reflection the truth pierced through to my heart of hearts and I knew what had to be done. I resigned.

Through my resignation I stand here today in solidarity with the oppressed factory workers.

There is something-dishonest going on here. Phil Knight, president and CEO of Nike, is one of the richest men in America, while workers in his SE Asian and Central American factories scrape by on starvation wages. There is a disparity evident here that cannot be ignored. There is a theme of exploitation that permeates the entirety of the Nike Corporation. It begins in production, with the exploitation of the workers. It extends to promotion, where high schools, colleges and entire communities are colonized by the Nike marketing machine. From here it moves to the personal level, which I took issue with, as athletes and coaches either by choice or by force are turned into walking billboards. Finally it reaches you, the consumer, who are charged exorbitant prices for shoes that on average cost $16 to produce.

I hope together we stand in protest of this exploitation. We stand in solidarity against the injustices that oppress worker, athlete and consumer.

This issue is so crucial. There are two extremes diametrically opposed to each other here. First is the adherence to the iron-bound law of capitalism, which states that ever-increasing profit is to be achieved no matter what the costs to humanity or nature. In contrast to this is the law of humanity, which espouses that nothing; no profit, no product and particularly no sneaker, is worth more than the dignity of the human person. To paraphrase sentiments of Mahatma Gandhi which seem to echo truth here. Nike is at the crossroads. They now have to make their choice between the law of the jungle and the law of humanity.

Nike is surely not alone in their actions. Companies like Nike, Phillips Van Heusen, Reebok, the Gap, Tommy Hilfiger, K-Mart and Wal-mart are but a few examples of countless companies that chose profit over the common good. These companies are quick to share with you the slightest improvement in conditions in their factories, improvements that are usually nothing more than propagandist smokescreens created by well-paid public relations firms. Such actions are futile attempts to hide the plight of underpaid, overworked factory employees.

Employees who are paid poverty-level wages; who are forced to work long hours and not even come close to meeting their basic needs; who are forced to work overtime and are unpaid for such work; who are forced to work mandatory overnight shifts; are illegally denied health care and benefits; are denied legal benefits; are at times underage; are forced to work in factories that do not meet health and safety standards; and are denied their rights to organize and to free speech.

Today we stand in solidarity with these workers. We stand here in protest of their exploitation and as a messenger to these corporations, to our university administrations, the Apparel Industry Partnership and to the United States government that the blood the workers have shed to ensure basic human dignity and justice has not been shed in vain.

We call all persons who take part in the exploitation of workers to examine their conscience. We also call all persons who struggle for justice for these workers to keep a hopeful eye on the future. We must know that despite the system of oppression that ominously permeates the global marketplace, there is nothing that can subdue the power of the human spirit.

We can, we will, and we must through the power of love, reshape our world, so that dividends and profit margins are not the standard by which we judge success. But rather, we strive for the establishment of a global community where success would be measured by the guarantee that each and every person will be ensured their God-given dignity.

MORE CONSUMERS JOIN THE FIGHT AGAINST NIKE’S SWEATSHOP ABUSES

October 1st, 2010

Team Sweat:

Check out the comments from some of the newest members of Team Sweat. They have joined our righteous fight to get living wages and union contracts for Nike’s overseas workers.

Peace, Jim Keady

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Nike could make conditions for hundreds of thousands of workers better by making a few small changes that wouldn’t affect their lives at all but even with constant reminders they still choose not to.
- Kyle Kristiansen

My English 1101 class at Georgia Southern University is wanting to stop the Nike sponsorship at our school because we have issues with the means of production Nike uses to create their products.
- Katie Smith

(I was) Inspired by the speech made at my school.
- Benjamin Gilbert

My email to Nike CEO Mark Parker:

Dear Mark Parker,

My name is Patrick Keyes, I am 15 years old, and I attend Seton Hall Prep High School in West Orange, NJ. Eariler this week we had a speaker come to our school named Jim Keady, who you have probably heard of and have negative feelings towards. I think that this should not be the case, because he is doing all this pestering of you and your company for a very good cause. As Jim has learned by actually living with these people, the workers that are in Indonesia are very underpaid and cannot support themselves or their family on the wages that they are paid by Nike. You are probably thinking, “Nike is the only reason these people have jobs, they are lucky we have provided them with work oppurtunites.”, but this thinking is immoral and wrong. It is not right to take advantage of someone because they have no work. If raising the wages of the workers in the Nike sweatshop increases the price of Nike products, then I as a loyal Nike customer who uses your company as my primary source of atheltic apparel will be more then willing to pay the extra money that it takes for this injustice to stop. If not, the I must stop my loyalties to Nike and find another outlet for my athletic equipment needs because I cannot in good conscience support a company who does not give its workers the basic human dignity they deserve.

From, Patrick Keyes

I’m joining Team Sweat because Jim Keady gave a presentation at my school which really got me thinking of this organization.
- Carlos Arante

The reason i joined this fighting group was because i never like to see a person work so hard and not get credit or rewarded for it. I am willing to put my heart and soul to get the people who work hard what they deserve. People like that should be the ones getting payed the big buxx. I believe that if i join then we are a little step closer to getting things down. I WANT THE CHALLENGE.
- Bryan Louis

(I joined Team Sweat) to help fight the cause for living wages and union contracts in Nike’s sweatshops and give them whats right.
- Anthony D’Angelo

(I joined Team Sweat because) you came to my school (Seton Hall Prep) and spoke to us.
- Derek Blahut

(I joined Team Sweat because) Jim came to my school and made my want to change this.
- Tim Johnston

I want nike to give their factory workers reasonable pay.
- Gus Arndt

(I joined Team Sweat) to fight Nike on their treatment of Indonesian workers.
- Anthony

Mr.Keady visited my high school ( Seton Hall Prep ) and i was deeply moved. Your cause is a just one, TeamSweat and i would like to help.
- Noah

(I joined Team Sweat because) I was inspired by Jim Keady’s presentation at Oxford College.
- Deana Bellen

I saw Jim Keady and heard what he had to say at North Dakota State University, and I felt compelled to join the fight against Nike and do what I can to support Team Sweat.
- Amber Thorson

I joined because I don’t believe in what Nike is doing. They have so much money and they can’t give their workers a living wage? It’s appalling! I joined to help get the word out and so maybe a change can be made.
- Shelby Novak

(I joined Team Sweat because) I listened to a pod cast given to Boston College students. My wife runs marathons and she recommended I listen.
- Kevin Bailey

I’m a high school student and last year in my social justice class we watched the Behind the Swoosh documentary and it helped me become aware about the issue of sweatshops, especially Nike’s. I want to help the people that must survive these inhumane conditions.
- Audrey Gutierrez

I am a high school athlete and I’ve been wearing nike all my life until this year when I learned of the injustices of nike’s factories. I want to help end this abuse of basic human rights.
- Matt

i just respect
- Faisal Fadhillah

Hi, I’m Daryl from manila Philippines, just finished watching your short film about nike’s sweatshop in indonesia, I was shocked that this is still being done in this day and age,specially by a big company like NIKE.Maybe it was just me being ignorant but I want to change that now. I would like to help in anyway I can to stop big companies like Nike from doing this to poor countries around the world. please send me an e-mail on how I can contribute in your fight to end injustice. God bless and take care.
- Daryl Gutierrez

I felt very ignorant after knowing that NIKE and other big companies have sweatshops in diff countries for the longest period of time now and here I am patronizing them by buying their products. It sickens me so much that I cant even look at the nike sb that I just bought last month from my local skate shop.on the brighter side, I feel enlightened after reading and learning from your site. In knowing all of these are still happening around the world, I will start by not buying from brands like NIKE and will help in sharing this information to my family,friends and colleagues.
- Daryl Gutierrez

Hi, I very much appreciated your presentation at our Life Group meeting last night in Wall, NJ. It was very inspiring to meet you and see how “on fire” for putting an end to modern slavery you are in real life. My encouragement to you and my prayers with you and all of your years of work. I am comforted to know that you are at the helm of this mission. I am confident you will see it through. God has put an incredible call on your life. Blessings to you Jim Keady and your family and all the people whose lives will be forever changed because you answered the call. Thank you. very best of the best.
- Noreen B.

(I joined Team Sweat because I am ) very interested in social justice.
- Doreen Aune

was inspired by Jim’s message.
- Lauren Miskin

My name is Pamela Mali. I am a archictectural student at the Cape University of Technology , in Cape Town , South Africa. Well now being an ex-consumer of Nike i was like millions of others oblivious to the struggle of the workers at these sweatshops….Frankly i’m appauled…I’d like to join Team sweat and join others to raise awareness about this issue. I feel there are many people out there especially us youth who unknowingly go through life associating ourselves to matters which are unruly and sometimes quite disturbing. I’d like to inform my fellow peers of this and together we could do something..it wont be easy i”m sure…but it will be worth it.
- Pamela Mali

I liked the Axis of Justice article, “Victory, Becomes Defeat, Becomes Victory.” My eyes were opened to the mistreatment of Nike sweatshop workers when I was about eleven when we were taught about it in school, and, being passionate about human rights even at that age, I’ve wanted to become involved in something, but I was never aware of anything like this, so this seems a good idea.
- Katie Davies

As a retired school librarian, I have helped scores of high school students write term papers about corporate accountability. Nike workers deserve my respect.
- Carol Schelin

As a fitness professional, I believe I am also an educator and teacher. I not only teach my clients about how to exercise and eat, but about exercise equipment. There are so many choices, and I’ve decided that I don’t want to contribute to the suffering of others when I purchase and use products & I urge my clients to do the same. There are other alternatives to Nike and no reason to buy their products. I believe Team Sweat is doing an excellent job in educating the public about the abuses that take place in sweat shops. I think that if professional teams and athletes did the same, we could together make a huge collective impact.
- Christine Buckley

I read in Huffington Post, thank you for informing us about what is going on with Nike. These companies need to start taking responsibility of how they conduct their business . There is such a lack of ethics… I am tired of it. As a consumers I want to know what I am buying.
- Monica Sohl

(I joined Team Sweat because I have) a passion to fight injustice.
- Steven D. Lamin

(I joined Team Sweat because I have) ethical labor concerns.
- Alexander Matheson

I am strongly in favour of the policies promoted by the international fair trade organisation - that workers are paid fairly, treated ethically, provided with opportunities for sustainable development, not exposed to dangerous working environments, that factories do not employ children or people in bonded labour, etc. I live in Australia. This website and the work of Jim Keady heartens me greatly and I will spread this work and website through my personal networks!
- Elizabeth Baros

I have not purchased a nike product in the past few years, under some assumptions that NIke uses terrible sweatshops. I watched your video which was fantastic and reassured my thoughts. I have emailed the video to my friends and family which sometime use their products. Thankyou for doing the footwork to get that video done. Hopefully Nike may change their ways. I do sometimes miss wearing their products.
- Nathan Casey

I have been a runner for many years, and active in Central/South American justice work with Witness for Peace for since the 80’s. I want to add my voice for justice in this issue. Thank you for your work.
- Tim Blevins

I used to buy nike products, but then i found out what was going on with nike and their workers. Its outrageous how nike could treat their workers like that and get away with it! I joined Team Sweat to raise awareness and help make a difference to nike and their workers rights!
- Charlie Miles

It is always best to help the less fortunate if one is able.
- Robert Laymon

i have been learning in social study’s about nike and their sweatshops. i never new that people slaved away and worked for very little money. i think it is unfair and what this website is doing is great. we need to stop slavery. people have the right to stand up for what they believe in.
- Hannah Jenkins

Listened to a podcast- Phedipppidations. Fair day’s work for a fair wage. Sweatshops should be illegal and they certainly are unethical. Corporate power and ignorance/denial needs to be limited. Sounds like you-all are doing a good job. Thanks.
- Ron Greeley

(I joined Team Sweat) because we can’t keep treading on people just so we can accumulate more cheap ’stuff’. We should all be prepared to pay a bit more for the things we buy for our leisure to ensure that the people who make it get a living wage - not just trainers but right across the spectrum of consumer goods. We can’t park our ethics just so we can save a few bucks.
- Ian Gregson

First off, THANK YOU for what you are doing — making this a better world! I was wondering if you will be giving a talk anywhere in Southern California this year? Also, would you consider giving a talk at USC? Lastly, if you haven’t read “Let My People Go Surfing” about Patagonia you MUST! I came across it last week and it is fantastic! Patagonia seems like a blueprint for what you are fighting for! Best always, Woody
- Woody Woodburn

Strong interest in the cause (Thank you Naomi Klein!)
- Vincent Trousseau

I have many strong beliefs but more less I believe that corporations need to help third world countries rather then detracting from them.
- Jeff Meckstroth

I have taken a hard line about supporting Nike in any way. My wife ribs me when Nike even comes up in any conversation. People take the position that “I can’t make a difference, so what does it matter if I buy just one pair of shoes…..or my pair of shorts…..or my whatever…???” They often respond that all the other shoe manufacturers do the same things. My favorite shoes are Asics. They have a pretty good sounding position on this topic and how they have third-party reviews of their manufacturing to make sure that they are at least trying to weed out the poor manufacturing practices. What is the best way for me to tell which manufacturer truly is doing all they can versus those who don’t? Any resources you can point me to would be much appreciated!
- Sean O’Connell

I am joining because I unwittingly supported Nike through buying their products over the years and need to atone for participating in this sin. I am also a PhD student and religion teacher who believes that in the inherent worth of every human person and places people above profits, and who desires to rally Christians to fulfill their duty to serve the poor.
- Walter Sisto

I loved Jim Keady’s talk at the University of San Diego, where I am a student. It sickened me that a Catholic institution supports a socially unjust system such as Nike, and I am motivated to make a difference.
- Julia

I’ve known about NIKE for awhile, but never got very serious in doing something about it. My eyes were opened a few days ago by a person that I look up to a lot for his efforts in Human Rights. He was unaware of NIKE sweatshops, and I really just decided then that I wanted to take more action against it. Hearing about Jim and his story, I really am moved. I think you’re making such a difference, and I’d love to get involved and help.
- Jen Gunshore

Saw Jim’s presentation @ Eckerd College on 4/22. Learned so much and will spread the word. Thanks, Jim!
- Russell Seaver

As a Canadian, I have enjoyed many priveledges such as access to healthcare, public education, wealthy lifestyle, freedom of worship, freedom of speech and freedom of choice, just to name a few. Because I am Canadian, I am more forunate and wealthy than at least 95% of the world population. For this reason, I realize it is my responsiblity to do what I can to help improve the working lives of other people around the world. I hope this is one way to help those less fortunate than myself.
- Wendy Burr

I was intensely saddened to learn of the quality of life led by those in Indonesia who work at Nike factories. I was outraged at the profits generated by the Nike Corporation, and the salaries of executives and athletes relative to those earned by the laborers who actually generate Nike’s wealth. I felt inexpressible anger at the degree to which Nike exploits workers around the world, and at the lack of voice, power and options those workers experience.
- David Streib

I joined to help get these hard workers a better pay. to help expose nike and this out sourcing going on in the world today. We are taking advantage of these families and workers and it should be stopped. They cant afford the product they are making. That is absurd!!! JUST PAY IT
- John Lauro

Hello this is a message for Jim Keady I hope you get this message. Im a director of photography based in stockholm, sweden. Im a member of the Swedish society of cinematographers. I shoot commercials, musicvideos, documentary and cinema. I know what you are thinking commercials! how awful! right? Well I agree, I really wish to only do Cinema but you know you have to start somewhere. And I have my principals, I refuse to do commercials for the tobacco industry, because my father is very ill and has advanced cancer because of that industry. And know that I have seen all that you have done to fight Nike and their sweatshops, I have decided to not do any commercials for Nike. Not that I have been offered does kinds of jobs, but if somebody offers me a job from Nike I will refuse it. Or I can tell them sure Il do it, but I want 60 000kr (6000 dollars for the job) and then I can take that money and donate it for your cause. I just wanted to tell you that you are doing a great job and that you have inspired me. I wish to tell you that if you ever need a director of photography for something please give me a call. Have a nice day and please feel free to view some of my work on my website: www.mattiassilva.com
- Mattias Silva

I joined to find out how I can help to put pressure on Nike to pay the severance they owe to layed off workers. I also want to learn about how to help improve living conditions of sweat-shop workers.
Regards, Adrian

I am of the opinion that everyone has a right to participate in the economic success. Without the workforce the manager would be useless. So it is a matter of integrity to pay fair wages. Not to do that is theft and thus criminal. Nike is obliged also to squeeze subcontractors to act in a way of human responsibility. Should this not be the case we all should stop buying Nike’s articles. By the way their products are quite expensive. So I think it should be no problem to divide the earnings among all involved producing employees in a fair way. Human beings all have the right to earn enough to afford a humane living together with their families. Managers should be aware of their social responsibility and stop their unlimited acquisitiveness.
- Stephan Dachauer

(I will) tell everyone i know about teamsweat encourage them not to buy nike till they have fair wages.
- Cathleen Lyons

I believe no one should be exploited. Work is for the person not the other way around.
- Alexis Jenkins

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NDSU SPECTATOR - TEAM SWEAT BRINGS A NEW PERSPECTIVE TO CAMPUS

October 1st, 2010

The Spectrum
North Dakota State University
Written by LAURA MUZ

Friday, 17 September 2010 13:10

For more than a decade, former St. John’s University soccer coach Jim Keady has been working to inform the public about the living conditions of workers overseas due to outsourcing of companies such as Nike.

On Sept. 14, Keady delivered his message of advocacy to 180 NDSU students, faculty and staff.

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Keady began his quest for social justice over a decade ago when, as a graduate theology student and soccer coach at St. John’s, he discovered how Nike makes their apparel in sweatshops in countries such as Indonesia and Honduras.

Through his research, Keady found that employees make $1.25 a day to make shoes consumers sometimes pay hundreds of dollars to wear.

Around the time of Keady’s initial research, St. John’s, the number one ranked school for soccer at the time, signed an endorsement deal with Nike. After refusing privately then publicly to wear the Nike logo alongside his team, Keady was dismissed from the university. He then decided to look further into the working conditions of Nike employees.

“I was given an ultimatum by my head coach. Wear Nike and drop this issue, or resign. So in May of 1998 I was constructively fired,” Keady said.

Keady centered his presentation Wednesday night on his experiences in Indonesia after leaving St. John’s University, and what it was like to live on the wages of a sweatshop employee.

What he found in Indonesia were four women living together in an 8-by-8 room with all of their possessions with them, football-sized rats, streets outside of homes lined with open sewers and Nike production employees begging for overtime just to feed their families.

Moved by his experiences in Indonesia, Keady founded Team Sweat, an international coalition of consumers, investors and workers committed to ending the injustices in Nike’s sweatshops around the world, according to his Web site.

However, Keady made it clear that Nike is not alone in the crowd. He cited that corporations such as Puma, Adidas, J Crew and Reebok also outsource their products and have employees living under these same conditions.

“It’s not just Nike that does this.” Keady said. “[It is] where Nike goes, so this industry follows.”

He and his coalition have been working for more than a decade to raise the wages of sweatshop workers by visiting Indonesia, putting pressure on Nike executives and raising awareness of other sweatshop-related issues.

“They’re not asking for charity; they want justice,” Keady said of the sweatshop employees.

Team Sweat has focused on certain attainable justices for the employees and has continued to find slow but steady progress.

In the last 10 years, Nike has improved the conditions of women workers by removing degrading policies involving menstrual leave and working to stop the violence that occurs when workers go against the management of the shops.

And, in July 2010, Nike contributed $1.5 million to a worker’s relief fund for Nike employees in Honduras who lost their jobs when Nike closed two of its factories: Hugger and Vision Tex.

Organizations such as the United Students Against Sweatshops and the Worker Rights Consortium worked with the employees to help them seek help from Nike, who is also offering vocational training over the next two years to assist the employees in finding other jobs.

“At this point in our history, we need a story like this to be told,” Keady said.

Students seemed receptive of Keady’s presentation, which was the first issues and ideas event put on by Campus Attractions this fall.

As the founder and captain of Team Sweat, Keady has visited more than 500 campuses in 42 states and three different countries to advocate for this issue that he has dedicated himself to.

“I hope students can get a better perspective of what is going on in the world and learn not to take what they own for granted,” Sam Maleki, Campus Attractions issues and ideas coordinator, said of the presentation.

For more information on Keady and Team Sweat, visit www.teamsweat.org or the Team Sweat Facebook page.

THE INDEPENDENT (UK) - BLOOD, SWEAT AND TEARS: THE TRUTH ABOUT HOW YOUR SPORTSWEAR IS MADE

October 1st, 2010

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The Independent (UK)
www.independent.co.uk

By Martin Hickman

October 1, 2010

Factories used by biggest brands abuse staff, employ children and pay pitiful wages - while stars earn a fortune

Many football tops, running vests and trainers on sale in the UK are made by sweatshop workers toiling long hours in hazardous conditions without trade union-rights, according to documents published by sportswear companies.

Two days before the Commonwealth Games begin, an analysis by The Independent of labour inspections by Nike, Puma and Adidas, the world’s top brands, identified 281 rogue factories, whose failings ranged from the unsatisfactory to the abysmal.

Low pay and long hours are common in workshops but some also use bonded or prison labour, ban collective bargaining, threaten and harass workers and force women to undergo pregnancy testing. “Less productive” workers face the sack.

A decade after some shoppers boycotted Nike over the issue, the leading players in the £134bn-a-year global sportswear industry seek to protect their reputations against allegations they profit from sweated labour by inspecting factories and blacklisting the worst. However their own reports show they have had only partial success in cleaning up the industry, and that they continue to outsource production to countries where trade unions are banned or restricted.

Instead of the “living wage” sought by campaigners, they pay the legal minimum wage, which can be half the amount deemed necessary by unions and academics to meet the cost of food, shelter, healthcare and education for a small family. When challenged by The Independent, none of the firms denied that some of their supplier factories were “sweatshops”.

Nike’s corporate responsibility report for 2007/09 paints the most vivid picture of conditions for the million of mostly Asian workers stitching and glueing sports shoes and apparel. It shows occasional or routine abuse by 35 per cent of Nike’s suppliers – affecting up to 280,000 workers.

Of 479 factories checked last year, on average 168 failed to meet Nike’s standards, meaning they had “serious system failures” or a “general disregard” for codes of conduct. One in five failed to provide contracts, honour collective bargaining, occasionally used children or worked staff seven days a week without a break.

One in 20 flouted wage laws, used bonded, indentured, prison or child labour, abused staff, or carried out mandatory pregnancy tests.

Nike said that some factories with poor grades may have had only one problem. On pay – to which most reports pay scant attention – Nike told The Independent: “We believe that local wage-setting is best done by negotiations between workers, labour representatives, the employer and the government.”

Of 362 factories that supply Puma, one in five – 75 – failed audits two years ago. About half of those flouted rules on hours and pay, and most endangered workers’ health. Three-quarters failed to follow rules on the handling of chemicals. Puma says it is committed to trade union-rights, but it outsources to China and Vietnam, which restrict those rights. In its Team Talk report, Puma admitted: “Considering these limitations, the social standard on freedom of association and collective bargaining is admittedly difficult to enforce at many of our supplier factories.”

Adidas, which was praised by the campaign group Playfair in 2008 for introducing complaints processes and for ending short-term contracts, gives little information about life inside its factories. Last year it ranked 60 per cent of 1,200 suppliers in the bottom three “compliance” ratings, but since it declines to explain the criteria, it is unclear how many failed audits. Last year the German firm warned 38 suppliers that they were so bad they could lose contracts.

Conditions may be worse than publicly stated because factories falsify wage and time records to pass audits. Puma acknowledged “many factories” covered up excessive working hours with two sets of time records – one genuine and one for inspections. The firm said: “It is common knowledge in our industry that software programs have been developed specifically for this purpose, with workers being coached on how to answer questions.”

Campaigners say that despite their willingness to document abuses, sportswear firms could do more to tackle long hours and low pay. In a report for the 2008 Olympics, Playfair noted that substantial violations of workers’ rights were “still the norm” and there was a “tendency to consolidate production” in states that restricted trade unions. Anna McMullen, of Labour Behind the Label, said: “They haven’t acknowledged there is something called a living wage, never mind working towards it.”

All three brands admitted that conditions could – and should – improve. Nike said: “Although we work quickly to address issues identified in audits, we know that challenges remain in some contract factories, including reducing excessive overtime and protecting the right to freedom of association.”

Puma said the industry had made progress by effectively combating child labour and improving health and safety, adding: “In other areas, such as freedom of association and wage levels beyond the legal minimum requirements we still see challenges ahead.”

Adidas said that as a result of its work it had been named a world leader by Dow Jones Sustainability Index.

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/politics/blood-sweat-and-tears-the-truth-about-how-your-sportswear-is-made-2094517.html

THE INDEPENDENT (UK) - THE GRUESOME REALITY OF SWEATSHOPS

October 1st, 2010

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The Independent (UK)
www.independent.co.uk

October 1, 2010

It took years for campaigners to persuade the world’s top sportswear manufacturers that they should take responsibility for the conditions in which their products were manufactured overseas. When Nike, Adidas, Puma and the rest grudgingly came round, it was hailed as a turning-point in the relationship of these companies to their sub-contractors in the developing world. Five years ago this newspaper spoke of “the ethical revolution sweeping through the world’s sweatshops”. It seems we spoke too soon: what was really under way was a revolution in these companies’ public relations departments. As our investigation published today reveals, conditions in hundreds of the factories in which the West’s favourite sportswear brands are manufactured remain highly unsatisfactory or appalling.

None of the companies has committed to paying overseas workers a living wage, the paltry sum required for a worker to keep himself and his family in conditions of the most rudimentary decency. Many workers do not even make the derisory local minimum wage, which in China amounts to only two-thirds of a living wage. Some factories continue to use bonded, indentured, prison or child labour. Women working in others are subjected to compulsory pregnancy tests; if they prove positive, they are summarily sacked. Supervisors terrorise workers into submission. These are the shocking facts revealed by a detailed examination of the reports submitted by the companies themselves – but as Puma breezily admits, the truth is certainly far worse than that, because some of the sub-contractors lie systematically about their employees’ conditions of labour, and in particular about the amount of overtime they work. Special software has been developed to falsify the records of working hours.

The contrast these findings make with the codes of conduct the firms have embraced is startling. “Our vision is for everyone in our supply chain to share a common set of values”, declares Adidas. Nike’s code of conduct proposes that “high ethics means success”. It exhorts its workers “to lead balanced personal and professional lives”, and insists that “Nike will strive to pay fair compensation”. In the context of the gruesome shopfloor reality, these fine words are contemptible. Instead of trying to dazzle Western consumers with meaningless rhetoric, these firms must divert some of their vast financial muscle into bringing real improvements to the misery of the sweatshops. The industry’s pledge to reform remains dramatically unfulfilled.

http://www.independent.co.uk/opinion/leading-articles/leading-article-the-gruesome-reality-of-sweatshops-2094318.html

STUDENTS AT SETON HALL PREP (NJ) SPEAK OUT ON NIKE’S SWEATSHOP ABUSES

September 30th, 2010

A CALL TO ARMS - HOW WE MUST TAKE THE FIGHT TO NIKE

September 8th, 2010

Team Sweat,

I have spent this summer thinking deeply about why we have not had more successes in the decade and a half struggle to end Nike’s exploitative labor practices around the world, but specifically in Indonesia, where much work has been done.  I could go on and on with my analysis on this, but I will not.  It is a waste of time and energy.  I want us to focus on the present and on winning.

How can we win?

First, we need to get very clear on what we want.  In the U.S., we have talked about winning in terms of “living wages” and in Indonesia, we have talked about winning in terms of “increasing welfare” for workers.  Neither of these phrases has any traction with the general public nor do they have traction in Nike’s cutthroat capitalist world.  We need to keep it simple when discussing what we want.  Nike’s Indonesian workers need to tell Nike, “We want a raise.  Period.”  They also need to tell Nike how much of a raise they want.  The current basic wage for Nike’s Indonesian workers is Rp1.100.000 (US$122) per month.  This is a poverty wage.  During my last visit to Indonesia in June, workers shared with me that they need at least Rp3.000.000 (US$333) per month to live with any sense of dignity.

How would this raise impact the cost of Nike sneakers?  Nike has published that the labor costs on an average pair of sneakers is about $2.50.  If that labor cost tripled because of the raise that workers asked for, and if that extra cost were passed on to consumers of Nike sneakers, it would mean that our $100 pair of Nike’s would cost $105.  Yeah, $5 extra bucks to lift hundreds of thousands of people out of poverty in the industrial slums of Indonesia.   Put it on my bill Nike.  I’ll pay it.

How can we make this happen?

1. A trade union at one of Nike’s Indonesian shoe factories needs to formally request contract negotiations.

2. The trade union must also formally request that representatives from Nike-USA be part of the contract negotiations.

3. In the contract negotiations, the trade union must tell Nike:

  • We want a raise so that the basic monthly salary for workers is Rp3.000.000 per month.
  • We want this raise ratified in a new contract to which the trade union, the factory owners and Nike are legally bound.
  • We want this contract executed within 30 days.

4. If after the 30-day period, Nike refuses the demands of the union, then TEAM SWEAT, which is made up of thousands of workers, students, activists, investors and athletes will publicly pressure Nike until they meet the unions’ demands.

Given the victory that USAS and Nike’s workers in Honduras recently had, NOW is the time for Nike’s Indonesian workers to hit Nike hard.  Remember, Nike said that they would never pay out severance to workers, that it was not their responsibility.  But because of workers and consumers fighting together, Nike did pay out.  We can make them meet workers’ demands again.

To my comrades in Nike’s factories in Indonesia, it is time for you to shed yourselves of the meekness that has been infused in your hearts by your colonialist past.  It is time for you to stand up and fight.  You are strong, smart and courageous.  You are the reason that Nike makes billions of dollars in profits.  Without you, there is no Nike.  You can bring Nike to their knees and you have an army of supporters in the international community waiting to fight with you.  So act.  Now.

Peace,

Jim Keady

HOW DID STUDENT ACTIVISTS BEAT NIKE?

July 27th, 2010

Yesterday student activists won arguably the most impressive victory in the more than fifteen fight to end Nike’s sweatshop abuses. The “Just Pay It” campaign, run by the United Students Against Sweatshops, under the leadership of USAS staffer, Rod Palmquist, forced Nike to the bargaining table and got them to do something they have refused to do to date - take financial responsibility for the welfare of Nike’s subcontracted workforce.

At issue was $2.2 million dollars in severance and back pay due to approximately 1,800 Honduran workers who had been producing Nike products for the college bookstore market.

Here is an excerpt from the joint statement released by Nike and the trade union federation (CGT) that was representing the workers.

Nike and CGT are concerned for the workers in Honduras and have agreed to take important steps to support former employees of Hugger and Vision Tex. Through this agreement, Nike will contribute to a workers relief fund of $1.5 million to be administered jointly by CGT, the Solidarity Center, the Worker Rights Consortium and supervised by professor Lance Compa of Cornell University.

As someone who has fought this fight with Nike for more than a decade, I am so very grateful for what USAS and the Honduran workers have accomplished. This is truly a watershed moment. But now is not the time to rest on the laurels of this victory. We must analyze why it worked and develop plans duplicate its success. That is one of the mistakes that was made in the first go-around with Nike on these issues back in the late 90s. We had them on the ropes and we backed off. We cannot afford to do this again.

So, what were the key elements of the “Just Pay It” campaign that created the winning dynamic?

1. USAS picked and froze their target - Nike. This was not a generalized campaign against sweatshops, they did not go after “the industry.” Circumstances created a scenario where they focused on one company (Nike) in one country (Honduras).

2. USAS was clear in their demand - “Just Pay It.” There was no ambiguity to what they wanted from Nike. Workers were owed $2.2 million dollars and they wanted Nike to pay this amount. Because of this clear demand, they were not drawn into the subterfuge of public relations nonsense that Nike has been so successful at promoting over the years (Codes of Conduct, Corporate Social Responsibility, independent monitoring, etc.). Again, the demand was clearly laid on the table, “pay these Nike workers the $2.2 million dollars they are owed.”

3. USAS mobilized at the grassroots level. When Nike refused to meet their demand, the USAS ground forces mobilized workers, students, professors, non-profits, consumers, etc.

4. USAS made it fun and exciting. From small leafleting actions outside Niketowns, to creative demonstrations on college campuses, to bringing Honduran workers to the USA to tell their stories first hand; students had a blast taking on this corporate bully.

5. USAS held universities accountable to their public commitments. Students made excellent use of the foundation that had been laid by the first generation of USASers. If schools had licensing relationships with Nike AND belonged to the Worker Rights Consortium this meant that there was a framework for accountability. In accessing this framework, USAS was able to pressure the University of Wisconsin-Madison and Cornell University to cut ties with Nike over this issue. And had Nike not made the move they did yesterday, I am sure that other schools would have followed suit in the fall.

6. The Honduran workers were willing to fight and were wanting of the collaboration with students and consumers. I believe this was actually the linchpin of this campaign and will be the linchpin of future campaigns. These Nike workers, despite their fears and disappointments, were willing to stand up and fight. When they did, they inspired and empowered students and consumers to join them and the solidarity actions of the students and consumers then re-inspired and re-empowered workers. It was a fluid and symbiotic relationship that ultimately led to victory. Nike workers around the world must learn of this victory and know that there is an army willing to support and work with them when they are ready to fight.

Now that students have led the way, the task is laid before us - we must replicate this victory. Nike must be pressed in multiple factories and in multiple countries. The template has been created and now the work must be done.

Peace, Jim Keady

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VICTORY: NIKE AGREES TO PAY $1.5 MILLION TO HONDURAN WORKERS

July 26th, 2010

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Team Sweat:

Today we won a groundbreaking victory in the fight against Nike’s sweatshop abuses!

Nike announced this morning that they have come to an agreement with the Central General de Trabajadores de Honduras (CGT) and will pay $1,500,000.00 to a fund for monies owed to workers for back pay and severance.

Here is the official joint statement from Nike and CGT.

Nike and CGT Statement
26 July, 2010

Beaverton, Ore. (July 26, 2010) – NIKE, Inc. and the Central General de Trabajadores de Honduras (CGT), representing the former employees of the Nike contract supplier factories Hugger and Vision Tex, have reached an agreement to help improve the lives of workers affected by the Hugger and Vision Tex factory closures in Honduras.

Nike and CGT are concerned for the workers in Honduras and have agreed to take important steps to support former employees of Hugger and Vision Tex. Through this agreement, Nike will contribute to a workers relief fund of $1.5 million to be administered jointly by CGT, the Solidarity Center, the Worker Rights Consortium and supervised by professor Lance Compa of Cornell University.

Nike will also work with its Honduran suppliers to offer vocational training programs and to prioritize hiring of former Hugger and Vision Tex workers as jobs become available over the next two years. Nike will also cover worker’s enrollment in the Honduran Institute of Social Security (IHSS) to obtain health care coverage for a year or until they find new employment, whichever comes first.

Nike and CGT are pleased to have worked together to create a resolution that helps the former Hugger and Vision Tex workers in Honduras to receive needed financial and medical support. Nike and CGT are committed to working together, in conjunction with other stakeholders in Honduras, to develop long-term, sustainable approaches to providing workers with social protection when facing unemployment.

Much of the congratulations for this victory needs to go to the workers in Honduras who did not give up their fight for justice, as well as the United Students Against Sweatshops (www.usas.org) and the Worker Rights Consortium (www.workersrights.org), who supported these workers every step of the way.

This victory proves that we can and will win the fight for justice in Nike’s factories!

Peace, Jim Keady

NIKE SPENDS $25 MILLION ON CSR ANNUALLY BUT REFUSES TO PAY $2.2 MILLION IN SEVERANCE TO HONDURAN GARMENT WORKERS

July 26th, 2010

By Ana Arias
Posted On: July 18 @ www.justmeans.com

Sometimes the CSR decisions of big corporations are as perplexing as a jigsaw puzzle with missing parts. Why the company would hire a 135-people CSR department, amass a 74-people compliance team and spend approximately $25 million annually on CSR efforts while simultaneously refusing to cough up the $2.2 million owed to Honduran garment workers in legally-mandated severance is beyond comprehension.

According to United Students Against Sweatshops (USAS), who are staging a heavy-duty anti-sweatshop “Just Pay It” campaign against the apparel giant, in January 2009 two of Nike’s factories in Honduras by the names of Vision Tex and Hugger were closed. To boot, Nike failed to pay the 1,800 workers their severance and additional legally required benefits. Each worker is due about $1,300, which the student group says is equivalent a US manufacturing employee losing around $15,000 to $20,000. Seems Nike’s talking out of two sides of its mouth. Shocking, right? It sure doesn’t smell like the kind of CSR home most of us would want to be involved with. To say nothing of the bad rep it creates for legitimate corporate social responsibility programs in ethical organizations.

On one hand, Nike is apparently insisting that they’re not responsible for what occurs in its sub-contracted factories. Yet they claim to be “driven to do not only what is requires by law but what is expected of a leader.” Yikes. I hope ethical CSR leaders cringe as much as the rest of us when we learn of such blatant inconsistencies. And on the other hand, the company’s code of conduct mandates that all of its suppliers comply with the particular country’s manufacturing laws in which they operate, inclusive of legally-mandated severance payments. “In the event a Nike factory closes down, as was the case with both Hugger and Vision Tex,” writes USAS’s International Campaign Coordinator Rod Palmquist, “then the buck stops at Nike’s doorstep.” It sounds to me as if Nike would be a highly qualified candidate we could designate to the Corporate Hall of Shame ballot.

I was glad to learn of progressive community and university leaders who are putting pressure on and affecting Nike’s financial bottom line because of the company’s complete disregard for the Honduran garment workers. In Portland, Nike’s backyard, a panel of community leaders urged Nike to enforce its code of conduct by paying up worker severance immediately. The University of Wisconsin-Madison became the first college in the country to cut its Nike contract over sweatshop abuses in April, causing Nike to lose $1 million in Badger gear yearly sales. Cornell University announced in June that it will let its Nike contract expire by December’s end, unless the company steps up to the plate and pays the workers what they’re owed. Extra kudos to Cornell, as Nike is the exclusive sponsor of the university’s athletics program.

I’ll conclude with a few more figures and a wild but plausible idea to provide more perspective. Last year, Nike’s estimated spend on sponsorships was $260 million and $200 million on advertising. The likes of superstar LeBron James is getting approximately $90 million over a seven-year period, and France and England’s World Cup soccer teams are getting annual amounts of $54 million and $44 million respectively. Now imagine the ripples of positive change that could take place if Nike’s CSR team surprised company executives and the world by taking the company’s $25 million CSR budget and re-allocating $2.2 million of that that budget to pay the Honduran garment workers for the what they’re owed. It’s far-fetched, I know. But Nike could do it if it wanted to.

ACTIVISTS CONTINUE TO PRESSURE UNIVERSITY OF WASHINGTON PRESIDENT TO CUT TIES WITH NIKE

July 26th, 2010
Re-posted from The Daily at the University of Washington

Activists Continue to Pressure Emmert with Open Letter
By Tiffany Vu
July 21, 2010

Several campus labor-advocacy groups have published an open letter to President Mark Emmert, asking him to pledge not to renew the UW’s licensing contract with Nike.

The Presidential Advisory Committee on Trademarks and Licensing (ACTL) unanimously recommended in early June that Emmert allow the contract to expire in December, saying that Nike had violated the UW’s Code of Conduct for licensees.

The dispute stems from allegations that Nike has failed to compensate workers from two closed Honduran factories, Hugger de Honduras and Vision Tex, both of which were subcontracted to produce licensed college apparel for Nike.

Signers include several members of the UW’s faculty, ASUW officials, campus groups such as the Student Labor Action Project (SLAP), United Students Against Sweatshops (USAS), and local labor groups, such as the King County Labor Council and Washington State Fair Trade Coalition. City- and state-level officials, such as Seattle City Councilman Nick Licata and State Representative Maralyn Chase, have also signed the letter.

“We showed them the facts, asked them where they stood, and they said, ‘Of course we support workers’ rights,’” senior SLAP member Matt Reed said. “It’s a clear-cut issue — the only controversy is that the University of Washington is failing to take a stand.”

The University of Washington is one of several schools facing the question of whether to continue granting licensing rights to Nike based on the Honduras case. The University of Wisconsin—Madison ended its contract with Nike in April, while Cornell University has notified Nike of its intention to allow their contract to expire at the end of the year.

In the wake of the decisions at UW—Madison and Cornell, other collegiate institutions, such as New York University, Rutgers University and the University of California system, have been reported to be reconsidering their contracts with Nike.

The letter emphasizes that, like Cornell, the UW can end its $1 million licensing contract, which allows Nike to sell products branded with the UW’s logos, without ending its $32 million athletic contract that helps finance the school’s sports programs.

Reed said that Emmert had been aware of the situation as early as April 2009 and created the ACTL for the purpose of determining the appropriate course of action for the university. However, Reed expressed disappointment with Emmert’s lack of action on the case and doubted that it would change.

“I’ve lost almost all confidence that President Emmert will make the right decision,” Reed said. “I hope he realizes the importance of this, that by leaving this issue unresolved or passing it on, it’ll look poorly on his past activism.”

Associate Vice President Norm Arkans said that Emmert would base his decision on the “merits of the situation.”

“We understand that a lot of people, including the university, are concerned about conditions under which trademarks are made,” Arkans said. “That’s why the university has taken steps in the past to deal with manufacturers and ensure that workers get what’s due [to] them.”

Arkans also emphasized that Interim President Phyllis Wise, whose appointment to Nike’s Board of Directors last year was a point of controversy, would have no part in any decision-making with regards to contracts with Nike.

“Another senior university official will be given the authority to make business decisions with Nike,” Arkans said, though he was not able to identify the official. “Whatever happens in the future with Nike when she’s interim president, it won’t be her.”

Debra Glassman, a business professor and member of the ACTL, hoped that the UW would join other schools in pressuring Nike to improve its labor standards by choosing to end its contract with Nike, much like what happened when it joined numerous other schools in cancelling its contract with Russell Athletic in 2009.

“Individually, we’re a very small part of Nike’s business,” Glassman said. “It’s definitely the hope of the ACTL that many schools will take similar actions, because together we can have an impact.”

At press time, President Emmert was on vacation and could not be reached for comment.

Reach reporter Tiffany Vu at news@dailyuw.com.

JOIN TEAM SWEAT ON TUESDAY IN TAKING ACTION AGAINST ONE OF NIKE’S LARGEST INVESTORS

July 19th, 2010

Tuesday morning at 9:30am (U.S. EST), Jim Keady, founder of Team Sweat, will be attending the annual meeting of TIAA-CREF. TIAA-CREF currently owns about a quarter of a billion dollars in Nike stock, making them one of Nike’s largest institutional investors in the world. Given this, Team Sweat believes that they have a moral responsibility to hold Nike accountable for the well being of Nike’s factory workers.

DO YOU WANT TO JOIN JIM KEADY IN TAKING ACTION TOMORROW?

1. YOU can send a personal message to TC CEO Roger W. Ferguson at RWFerguson@tiaa-cref.org and send a copy to trustees@tiaa-cref.org. We have provided sample copy immediately below, with more details in the release.

2. YOU can have even more impact if you also call 800-842-2733 or 212-490-9000 and ask for CEO Roger Ferguson. You most likely will have to leave a recorded message.

3. YOU can cut and paste the press release below and send it to any media contacts you have and/or you can make it a note on your Facebook page and share it with your friends.

SAMPLE EMAIL/PHONE SCRIPT

“I am concerned that TIAA-CREF is a major investor in Wal-Mart, Nike, Coca-Cola, and Costco in Mexico, companies that are involved in ongoing human and labor rights abuses, as well as other irresponsible corporate behavior. I want TIAA-CREF to put these corporations on notice that if they do not clean up their bad practices, TIAA-CREF will find other companies in which to invest. TIAA-CREF needs to either get more aggressive with these companies to improve their practices or to divest from their stock.”

PRESS RELEASE
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
NO KILL DATE

CONTACTS
Pat Clark: 718-852-2808; stopkillercoke@aol.com
Jim Keady 732-988-7322, info@teamsweat.org.

At The Annual CREF Meeting, Shareholders Call on TIAA-CREF to Walk its Talk on Social Responsibility

(July 14, 2010 – New York) TIAA-CREF, the nation’s largest pension system and self-proclaimed leader in corporate social responsibility, has come under fire from a coalition of academics and activists who are questioning TIAA-CREF’s commitment on a range of social responsibility issues.

“TIAA-CREF’s tagline is ‘financial services for the greater good,’ but it seems like the only good they are concerned about is the bottom line,” said James Keady, Director of Educating for Justice and long-time active member of the coalition that is attempting to hold TIAA-CREF publicly accountable on these issues.

Coalition reps will be at the upcoming CREF annual meeting on Tuesday, July 20, 9:30 AM, at TIAA-CREF’s NYC headquarters and they plan to publicly pressure the group to stop outsourcing jobs overseas; to stop firing whistle-blowers; to stop investing in sweatshops; and to stop paying its CEO 10 million dollars a year.

“After years of member lobbying, TIAA-CREF finally agreed to talk to some of the companies we have focused on,” said Keady. “Unfortunately, TIAA-CREF’s method of ‘quiet diplomacy’ over the past five years has not led to any substantive changes.”

The coalition believes that TIAA-CREF can and should do more. Its Policy Statement on Corporate Governance reads, “While quiet diplomacy remains our core strategy…the TIAA-CREF engagement program involves many different activities and initiatives, including engaging in public dialogue and commentary… engaging in collective action with other investors… seeking regulatory or legislative relief… commencing or supporting litigation.” “It is time for TIAA-CREF to get aggressive with these companies.”

###

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NIKE URGED BY PENN STATE TO PLAY “POSITIVE ROLE” FOR HONDURAN WORKERS

July 16th, 2010

Posted on StateCollege.com
July 15, 2010 7:25 AM
by Adam Smeltz

Penn State has urged apparel company Nike (NKE) “to play a positive role in assisting” workers who were laid off from two factories in Honduras, university spokesman Geoff Rushton said Wednesday.

The two factories, known Hugger De Honduras and Vision Tex, served as subcontractors for Nike and manufactured Penn State-branded goods, among other branded products, according to the Worker Rights Consortium.

Both factories closed about 16 months ago, but it’s not clear that workers there have received the roughly $2 million that they are owed in mandated severance pay, according to an article posted at www.insidehighered.com.

Already, two universities — Cornell and the University of Wisconsin at Madison — have decided to end their Nike licensing agreements as a result of the matter, Inside Higher Ed reported.

Like Penn State, the University of Wisconsin is a Big Ten school. Both have had substantial agreements with Nike for years.

“While Nike has offered training and vocational programs, the company insists the (workers’ severance) payments are the responsibility of the subcontractors” in Honduras, the Inside Higher Ed article reads. “That position, however, runs afoul of many university codes of conduct — including Cornell’s, which holds licensees responsible for the actions of subcontractors, … .”

Rushton said Wednesday that he was looking into Penn State’s licensing code of conduct and how it might apply to the Nike situation in Honduras.

“Penn State is continuing to monitor the issue and receive updates from the Fair Labor Association, Worker Rights Consortium and the Collegiate Licensing Company, our licensing agent,” Rushton wrote in an e-mail message. “We have also spoken with Nike representatives directly.

“We are continuing to encourage Nike to work with the WRC, FLA, worker representation and others to resolve these issues in the best interest of the workers,” Rushton wrote.

He said he understands that Nike contracted two factories, Anvil and New Holland, “which in turn subcontracted Vision Tex and Hugger factories in Honduras.”

Nike indicated that it made full payment to Anvil and New Holland, Rushton wrote. Anvil and New Holland indicated “they had paid Vision Tex and Hugger in full,” he went on.

Rushton said he believes Nike has had ongoing discussions with representatives of the workers who lost their jobs.

Penn State-branded merchandise is manufactured in dozens of factories around the world, according to a Worker Rights Consortium database. The Washington, D.C.-based group, of which Penn State is a member, monitors working conditions globally to combat sweatshops and preserve workers’ rights.

StateCollege.com will post additional details in this developing story as they become available.

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JAKARTA POST: WHAT HAPPENS BEHIND THE SWOOSH

July 13th, 2010

By adelie Chevee

The Jakarta Post

Sun, 07/04/2010

Jim Keady has spent times living  with workers of PT ADIS Dimension, a footwear factory, and found out that they have lived in an appalling condition.

Keady said that the company, one of 37 Nike’s subcontractors in Balaraja, Tangerang, conducts incineration of waste from rubber shoes in a nearby location without considering its impact on the environment.

The practice exposed workers living nearby to emitting toxins from the incineration.

“Nike signed agreements with organizations protecting the environment. But it is not monitoring. If their subcontractors don’t respect it there are no penalties.” Keady said.

The unlawful incineration process is not the only criticism Team Sweat leveled against to the Nike. The not-for-profit organization denounces what it considered “an exploitation of workers” in developing countries including Vietnam or Indonesia.

In Indonesia, the highest minimum wage is Rp 1.1 million (US $120) but according to Keady this is not enough to secure a decent life.

After their rent, charges and cost of transportation, workers only take home Rp 700,000 ($77), says Keady.

To make matters worse for workers, they have to pay the cost of drinking water and two additional meals per day and child care, he said.

Keady explains that basic items such as soap, toothpaste or hygienic pads for women are hardly affordable with this amount.

Workers can’t save money and some even have to send their children back to the village so that they can live with relatives. This way they spend less.

With the amount of money, there is no way workers will have a chance to improve their lives and escape the cycle of poverty. Team Sweat’s research concluded that it would take Rp. 3 million per month for workers to meet their basic needs — which means three times higher than the existing wages.

Nike made $19 billion in revenue in 2009 with a 10 percent net profit margin. It is the world’s number one brand of athletic footwear and apparel.

Keady has talked to a number of Indonesian workers and persuaded them to build a unionized worker movement. But it is hard to make the workers organize if they face pressure at work.

“Nike exploits their fear,” he says. “It knows that their employees are desperate for work,” he said.

Keady knows a lot about workers’ woes as he has lived with the workers of a Nike’s subcontractors and lived off the same amount of money they receive, around $125 a month. He lost 25 pounds, and learned first hand that the living conditions are beyond what he could deal with.

Back in the States, Keady shared his experience at dozens of universities. What started as a limited tour turned out to be endless journey now that he is still on the road. Eventually his campaign, with the help of other NGOs, was enough to pressure Nike to make changes in some of its policies.

Team Sweat hopes that campaign against Nike bad practices could now be rekindled with the arrival of the soccer World Cup. “People should know the origin of the jerseys and shoes worn by their favorite players,” says Keady.

Nike and its contractors employ 800,000 workers in 1,000 factories across 52 countries. Indonesia is the firm’s third-largest manufacturing site after China and Vietnam, Keady said.

Responding to Keady’s accusation, a company spokesman said issues such as salary for workers in its disparate production chain are best dealt with “by negotiations between workers, labor representatives, the employer and the government”.

Erin Dobson, Nike’s senior manager for global public affairs, was quoted by the Los Angeles Times which published a story on Keady on Wednesday as saying that the company participated in efforts to improve the overall workers’ welfare.

“We believe there is ample room for innovation in this area,” she said, “And that progress must occur throughout the industry, and at the governmental level, not only in Nike’s supply chain.”

She said Nike’s code of conduct mandates that the company pay the minimum legal wage in each country, which in Indonesia is $122 a month, one of Asia’s lowest.

The Nike representative in Indonesia did not return a call from The Jakarta Post for this story.

In the past, Nike has repeatedly denied claims regarding labor issues in Indonesia.

WANT TO PUT PRESSURE ON ONE OF NIKE’S LARGEST INVESTORS?

July 7th, 2010

nytimes-photo

The pension fund, TIAA-CREF, currently owns approximately $230,000,000.00 in Nike stock and to date, they have done nothing significant in terms of pressuring Nike to pay living wages, negotiate union contracts, and clean up their environmental damage in the countries where Nike products are made.  TC has also placed Nike in their “social choice for social change” account, which is a signal to their investors that they believe that Nike is “socially responsible.”  Clearly the facts show that Nike is anything but socially responsible.

That is why on Tuesday, July 20th at 9:30am - when TC holds their annual meeting of participants at 730 Third Avenue, New York, NY 10017 - TEAM SWEAT will be there!

We will be asking the TC Board of Directors to take the following actions:

* TC should make a formal request to Nike to pay the $2.6 million dollars in back wages and severance owed to 1,700 Honduran Nike workers.  If Nike refuses to pay, we will recommend that TC divests some of its holdings with Nike.  This would be in line with similar actions take by the University of Wisconsin-Madison and Cornell University, who recently cut their contracts with Nike over this issue.

* TC should make a formal request to Nike to create a pilot project in which Nike would take part in tri-party collective bargaining with a Nike shoe factory in Indonesia.  The result of this bargaining would be legally-binding and enforceable labor agreement that was signed by Nike, the factory management and the trade union at the plant.

* TC should make a formal request to Nike to pay for an independent assessment of the environmental damage done by the burning of scrap shoe rubber in Indonesian villages for the past 20 years.

If you would like to attend the TIAA-CREF annual meeting and take part in pressuring them to hold Nike accountable, please email Jim Keady at jim@educatingforjustice.org no later than July 10th as arrangements will need to be made to get member proxies so you can enter the meeting.

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FROM INSIDE HIGHER ED: CORNELL CUTS TIES WITH NIKE OVER LABOR ISSUES

July 7th, 2010

Inside Higher Ed (www.insidehighered.com)
Another One Bites the Dust

July 2, 2010

And then there were two.

Absent “significant progress” toward the resolution of an ongoing labor dispute in Honduras, Cornell University will follow the University of Wisconsin at Madison’s lead and end its licensing agreement with Nike. The decision, issued by President David Skorton in an internal letter Monday, is being heralded by anti-sweatshop activists as a significant victory in a battle over Nike’s refusal to pay severance to displaced workers in its supply chain.

“I have made the decision to allow the licensing agreement to run through its expiration date of December 31, 2010, at which point I will allow our agreement to expire unless significant progress is made,” Skorton wrote the university’s Licensing Oversight Committee, which recommended the contract be severed. “I am doing this to allow Nike time to accelerate discussions I understand are underway between the company and union representatives acting on behalf of the displaced workers and to become more assertive in its efforts to remediate the Codes of Conduct violations.”

As the second institution – and the only Ivy League university – to take a stand on the labor issue, Cornell’s move is sure to escalate pressure on a company that has been increasingly under fire since the closures of two Honduran factories 16 months ago. At issue is an estimated $2 million in legally mandated severance owed to workers at two Nike supplier factories, Hugger de Honduras and Vision Tex, in Honduras.

While Nike has offered training and vocational programs, the company insists the payments are the responsibility of the subcontractors. That position, however, runs afoul of many university codes of conduct – including Cornell’s, which holds licensees responsible for the actions of subcontractors, the university’s oversight committee maintains.

In response to Cornell’s decision, Nike issued a statement suggesting the company is working to resolve the issue.

“Nike is very concerned for the affected workers of Vision Tex and Hugger and continues discussions with key stakeholders on this matter,” the statement reads. “In addition, we are in direct discussions with Cornell on our ongoing efforts in support of the workers in Honduras.”

Jack Mahoney, national organizer for United Students Against Sweatshops, said the Cornell decision was the product of an intense campaign on the campus, including a visit by displaced Honduran workers who shared their stories with administrators, faculty and students.

“I think this latest step by Cornell in conjunction with what happened at Wisconsin clearly is going to matter and give Nike some incentive to resolve this issue,” Mahoney said.

Moreover, past campaigns – such as one against Russell Athletic – have shown that once a few universities take a stand, others often follow.

“We’re going to have now both Wisconsin – a large important public school – and Cornell – an important Ivy – both setting a tone,” Mahoney said. “I think that really helps us on other campuses where students are having these conversations with administrators and want to point to the way that other universities are taking the lead on this.”

Conversations about pulling out of Nike contracts are already occurring on many other campuses. The University of Washington’s Advisory Committee on Trademarks and Licensing, for instance, has recommended Washington sever its contract if Nike doesn’t resolve the labor dispute. No decision on the contract has been made, however, a university spokesman said Thursday.

In addition to potentially pressuring other universities to follow its lead, Cornell is calling on the Collegiate Licensing Company – an agent that assists many universities with Nike contract negotiations – to urge Nike to resolve the labor dispute.

While Cornell’s licensing agreement with Nike would end Dec. 31 absent satisfactory progress from the company, the expiration would not impact an additional agreement the university has with the company for providing athletic apparel to sports teams, a university spokesman said Thursday.

Casey Sweeney, president of the Cornell Organization for Labor Action, said she believed the broad student support for pressuring Nike helped inform Skorton’s ultimate decision. More than 30 organizations endorsed the campaign, including the Student-Athlete Advisory Council, which has representatives from all of the university’s 36 team sports.

“I think it just is a testament to the wide range of support we were able to gather,” Sweeney said. “It was really nice to see in our community there are certain values we uphold across the community. For [the Student-Athlete Advisory Council] to feel as passionate about it as we were, was exciting.”

— Jack Stripling

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LA TIMES: AS WORLD WATCHES SOCCER’S CUP, NIKE CRITIC SEES RED

June 28th, 2010

Labor activist Jim Keady says Indonesians who make team jerseys for the company are living in poverty. Nike says it has sought to improve worker welfare.

Jim Keady with a U.S. soccer shirt. "Despite their low wages, they still
have immense pride in their work," he says of the workers. (John M.
Glionna / Los Angeles Times)

By John M. Glionna, Los Angeles Times

June 28, 2010

Reporting from Jakarta, Indonesia -

Like any die-hard sports fan, Jim Keady eagerly anticipated soccer’s World Cup.

But he isn’t at home watching the matches. Instead, the 38-year-old New Jersey native has been in Indonesia, talking to the workers who make the Nike jerseys worn by nine of the teams in the tournament.

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For years, the former professional goalie has waged a one-man campaign to highlight Nike’s labor practices, complaining that the company pays Indonesian workers low wages to stitch together the uniforms that have made the company the world’s most successful sports garment manufacturer.

Sitting at an outdoor coffeehouse here, Keady produced several Nike jerseys in Cup team colors. “These jerseys are real wealth you can touch,” he said. “They’re making Nike and the players rich while the workers who make them continue to grind out lives of abject poverty.”

Keady’s campaign goes back to 1997 when, as a soccer coach for St. John’s University in New York, he questioned the school’s plans to sign a $3.5-million endorsement deal with Nike.

The devout Catholic insisted that the contract would be hypocritical for a Christian university. “I was told to drop the issue or get out,” he said. “So I resigned in protest.”

The showdown prompted Keady to launch Team Sweat, a nonprofit dedicated to persuading Nike to change its business practices.

Keady said that major sports events such as the World Cup offer an opportunity to reach a wider audience.

“Right now, the eyes of the world are on the World Cup,” he said. “Now is the time to get out my message.”

Nike and its contractors employ 800,000 workers in 1,000 factories across 52 countries. Indonesia is the firm’s third-largest manufacturing site after China and Vietnam, Keady said.

A company spokesman said issues such as salary for workers in its disparate production chain are best dealt with “by negotiations between workers, labor representatives, the employer and the government.”

Erin Dobson, Nike’s senior manager for global public affairs, said the company has participated in efforts to improve overall worker welfare. “We believe there is ample room for innovation in this area,” she said, “and that progress must occur throughout the industry, and at the governmental level, not only in Nike’s supply chain.”

She said Nike’s code of conduct mandates that the company pay the minimum legal wage in each country, which in Indonesia is $122 a month, one of Asia’s lowest.

Keady says that if Nike raised the price of its shoes by $2.50 a pair and gave that money to workers, it would help lift most out of poverty. Nike calls that a simplistic solution that does not take into account complicated country factors.

In 2000, the towering, redheaded Keady moved to Indonesia and lived on the same salary as a Nike worker, which at the time was about $1.25 a day, staying in a 9-by-9-foot home in a community where 10 families share bathroom and kitchen facilities.

He lost 25 pounds in one month and returned to the U.S. to tell of his experiences. “I thought it would be a 10-week tour, but I’ve been on the road ever since,” he said.

Often, his campaign resembles activist Michael Moore’s documentary “Roger & Me” and Keady has recorded his exploits, producing a short film called “Behind the Swoosh.” He also unsuccessfully tried to meet with Phil Knight, Nike chairman and former chief executive, and has sought the support of athletes promoting Nike, including Michael Jordan, Tiger Woods and soccer star Mia Hamm.

But he spends most of his time interviewing workers who don’t make enough money in a week to buy a Nike jersey. Although he hasn’t had time to watch the World Cup games, many of the workers have.

“Despite their low wages, they still have immense pride in their work,” he said. “They’re overjoyed at the fact that many of these World cup players are wearing jerseys made in Indonesia.”

Keady told the story of one Nike factory worker.

“He said that one day, he’d like to be able to buy a pair of Nike sneakers that he helps make,” the activist recalled. “After 19 years of factory work, he wanted to be able to bring home the product so he could show his daughter what Daddy does. That just floored me.”

john.glionna@latimes.com

Copyright © 2010, The Los Angeles Times

JUNE 10, 2010: “YES, WE WANT TO FIGHT, BUT WE DON’T KNOW HOW.”

June 16th, 2010

Team Sweat:

One of the goals of my trip (as you will read about in future posts) was to find the workers that made the World Cup replica jerseys that I bought at Niketown in NYC before I left for Indonesia. My team had been searching for a couple of weeks prior to my arrival for the plants where these jerseys were produced, but to no avail. Luckily, following our meeting with the Nike shoe factory workers the other night, one of the union leaders said that he had a contact for us at a plant that may have produced this stuff. On Thursday night, he arranged for me to meet with half a dozen workers from this Nike apparel factory.

As I pulled the soccer jerseys from my bag, replicas from the U.S., Brazilian, Australian and English National Teams, and passed them around the room, I was struck by the care and attention that each worker gave to the shirts. When most people grab one of these jerseys, they hold it up to themselves, throw it on, and are off on their merry way. But these workers carefully inspected each piece, running their fingers along each seam and holding it the way that a sculptor might hold and admire a finished piece of art. These were not just soccer jerseys to them, this was their lifework, and the pride they took in what they do and create was evident.

As things turned out, these particular jerseys were not produced at their factory, although they did produce replicas for Nike the 2002 and 2006 World Cups and they are now producing similar Nike products. They shared that there may be a factory within their group that produced these and they would try and find out for me.

As our conversation continued, the workers shared that (to no surprise), the number one issue for them was their wages. Their basic salaries ranged from Rp1.130.000 to Rp1.191.000. The differences in pay were because of the range of jobs that were held (sewing operator, machine tech, sample creators).

They also shared a couple of other interesting things. one of the women told me that whenever Nike monitors are scheduled to visit the plant, workers are told by the managers to lie to the monitors and NOT to discuss anything that might be deemed negative about the plant. The also shared that their work days are very long, sometimes working from 7am-8:30pm. And, when they do have to work long shifts like this, the factory is supposed to provide them with dinner - a meal of at least 1400 calories. The reality is that they get small portions of rice, vegetables, tempeh, and salty fish - not nearly close to the agreed upon standard. They told me that in the past, they used to get a meal allowance of Rp2.250 if they had to work overtime. I know from my research that Rp2.250 would buy you about a third of a portion of a modest meal at the local food stall. So, it seems that whether they are getting the cash or the food, they are being cheated.

We came back to the discussion on wage levels and one of the men shared how tough it is to try and survive on the wages, especially given the fact that he has a daughter. I’m a relatively new parent myself (my daughter will be two in July) and so the issues that workers who are parents face have taken on new personal emotional meaning for me.

I asked him about his daughter and I learned that she is three-and-a-half years old. When she was just three months old, she had to be sent to live with his mother-in-law in a village in central Java between Solo and Yogakarta. Because he makes such a low salary producing for Nike, he is only able to see his daughter two or three times a year. He fought back his pain as he shared this with me and my heart went out to him. I have only been away from my daughter for a few days and I miss her dearly, I cannot imagine only seeing her two or three times a year.

I shared with him and his fellow workers that this situation is unfair. I showed them flyers I had prepared that documented how much Nike made last year from their sweat and hard work.

Nike’s 2009 Revenues: Rp19.200.000.000.000

I also showed them a flyer with the names, photos and salaries of the top five executives at Nike and what they made in 2009.

Phil Knight, Chairman of the Board
Basic salary = Rp28.254.340.000
Total salary = Rp34.564.540.000

Mark Parker, President and CEO
Basic salary = Rp13.769.230.000
Total salary = Rp88.005.870.000

Donald Blair, Chief Financial Officer, VP
Basic salary = Rp7.400.000.000
Total salary = Rp33.470.000.000

Gary DeStefano, President of Global Operations
Basic salary = Rp9.588.460.000
Total salary = Rp39.984.080.000

Charlie Denson, President of the Nike Brand
Basic salary = Rp11.923.100.000
Total salary = Rp73.333.700.000

After showing them these flyers I shared with them that I am quite sure that none of these men or anyone that is working for Nike in the USA had to “export” their babies back to home villages. I shared with them that these Nike executives are getting rich, the Nike investors are getting rich, the athletes that endorse Nike are getting rich, but the workers who produced the real wealth for Nike continue to live in abject poverty. I asked them if they wanted to fight to change this.

One of the women responded, “Yes, we want to fight, but we don’t know how.”

Here our work begins.

JUST(ice) DO IT.

Peace, Jim Keady

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JUNE 10, 2010: DEMO FOR WORKER JUSTICE IN JAKARTA

June 16th, 2010

Team Sweat:

This morning I attended a demonstration at the famous Bunderan HI statue in central Jakarta.

My colleagues here in the NGO community have been working for months on engaging a number of the major brands to improve conditions for workers. It seems that their negotiations have fallen apart and this demonstration was an attempt to raise public awareness about the current state of affairs.

It does not surprise me that these talks did not lead to the desired end. Without the threat that there will be labor strikes and/or a consumer boycott if demands are not met, these top brands (Nike, Adidas, Reebok, etc.) will go along with these discussions and in the end, do nothing. That is why it is imperative that the focus of our work be grounded in building worker power and encouraging and supporting workers to use their power to bring Nike to the bargaining table.

Peace, Jim Keady

JUNE 9, 2010: WHAT CAN YOU BUY FOR RP1.100.000?

June 16th, 2010

Team Sweat:

I spent the afternoon doing a round of pricing research to update my understanding of the purchasing power (or lack thereof) for Nike’s Indonesian workers.

The current basic monthly salary for a Nike worker here is Rp1.100.000 ($114USD). Here are some average major monthly expenses that all workers have.

Rent Rp300.000
Drinking water Rp100.000
Transportation Rp100.000

If you add up these three major expenses, that equals Rp500.000. If you subtract this Rp500.000 from the basic monthly salary of Rp1.100.000, you are left with Rp600.000. Divide this Rp600.000 by the average amount of days in a month (30) and your remaining daily spending power is Rp20.000. What does that mean?

You will need to eat. You get one (not so great) meal at the factory. You will need two additional meals. A modest meal at the warteg (local restaurant or food stall) will cost you Rp8.000 - two meals, Rp16.000.

If you want to have a bottle of iced tea with one of these meals, that will cost you Rp2.500.

If you want to have a healthy snack during the day (two bananas) that will cost you Rp4.000. You cannot afford the snack.

Isn’t that crazy? You are producing the real wealth for a company that posted $1,500,000,000.00USD in profits last year and you cannot afford two meals, a bottle of iced tea AND a snack.

It is important to note, that we have only discussed SOME expenses. What about clothing, shoes, stuff for your house, recreation, soap, toothpaste, etc.? And, we are only talking about the needs for one adult here. What if you had children?

When the workers here talk about their financial struggles, they say that they are digging a hole today to fill in the hole that they dug yesterday, but the hole in front of them just keeps getting bigger. Ironically, so do Nike’s profits.

Peace, Jim Keady

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JUNE 9, 2010: THE DUMPING AND BURNING OF NIKE SCRAP SHOE RUBBER

June 16th, 2010

Team Sweat:

My team and I left my hotel this morning at 6:30am and drove 90 minutes to a Nike shoe factory in one of the industrial areas outside Jakarta. There we sat and waited (again). We were back on the beat looking to document the dumping and burning of Nike scrap shoe rubber.

This is an important issue because Nike has made major public statements about their supposed commitment to protecting the environment. In fact, if you read their most recent corporate responsibility report, it is loaded with claims and planned initiatives on how they say they will limit their global environmental footprint. I am unsure how successful they are going to be since it seems that they cannot even manage their trash in a way that is responsible.

“Therefore the disposal of footwear soles by burning that Mr. Keady discusses in his presentation is either counterfeit or unauthorized.”
- Carolyn Wu, Issues Manager, Nike, Inc. ~ May 10, 2002

As I wrote in an earlier post, I have been pushing Nike on this issue since I first discovered that shoe rubber from their plants was being dumped in burned in villages around the factories. For years, Nike denied any wrongdoing (note the quote above from Nike’s Carolyn Wu).

In 2009 Nike did admit, to me at least, that there was some validity to my claims. Just before my visit to Indonesia in 2009, Nike sent one of their top environmental people from Asia to investigate this issue. During his visit, this Nike exec sat outside a factory and waited for the dump truck to leave the plant. He followed it and found that the end of the line was a public dump where eventually Nike had to clean up 180 dump truck loads of scrap shoe rubber and spend thousands of dollars on an environmental remediation of the site. The resulting policy change was Nike’s new waste management system.

The question I wanted answered, was “Is the waste management system really effective or it is simply another Nike public relations ploy?”

So… there we sat and waited.

The giant yellow dump truck rolled out of the factory gates around 10:15am. We whipped our van around and followed it down the bumpy dirt road. I must share that I felt somewhat uneasy as we were doing this. In 2002 while doing similar research at a dump, I ended up being chased in my van by machete wielding preman (thugs) on motorcycles who worked for the mafioso that ran the dump. They eventually caught us, beat my driver and brought my team back to the dump where I ended up on my knees with the boss telling me, “If you come back here, I will kill you,” as he stood over me with a sword drawn over my head.

The dump truck pulled into a makeshift recycling center that is run by the local community and started to unload. To not raise suspicions with the men who ran this operation, I posed as an American buyer of shoe scraps. We told them that I worked for a company that made artificial soccer fields and that we used this kind of material as a base. They bought the story. From our conversation I learned that they only received the scrap foam from the factory (about 1 ton a day) and it is sold to buyers that use it to make cushions for sofas, chairs, etc. There was no scrap shoe rubber dumped with them, but they told me where it was discarded, a dump site just up the road.

We made our way down the road and came upon the dump site that we were told about. It turned out that while we were at the community recycling center, that another dump truck must have left the plant and come to this site. As it unloaded it’s trash, we watched and waited. It took about 20 minutes for the truck to be emptied of its contents. It was morbidly fascinating to watch the people at the dump sort through the trash as it was pushed off the truck. They scavenged for plastic bottles and anything else that might have value if salvaged.

When the team of men from the factory finished their work, loaded back onto the truck and rolled out back onto the road, we kicked into action.

Alif told the man that ran the dump that I was a Canadian reporter doing a documentary on recycling efforts in Indonesia. Rather than TELL you what I found here, I offer the photos below and will allow you to judge if Nike’s claims about their new waste management system are legit.

Just an FYI, the kind of dumping I described above and that you can see in these photos, happens 3-4 times a day, every day, and the burning happens for hours every afternoon.

JUST(ice) DO IT.

Peace, Jim Keady

JUNE 8, 2010: WAGES - NOTHING HAS CHANGED

June 16th, 2010

Team Sweat:

I spent the early evening of June 8th traveling the broken, dusty roads of an industrial suburb outside of Jakarta en route to a meeting with Nike factory workers. At around 6:30pm, we arrived at the home of a worker and I was invited in. I had met with many of these workers before, so it was a reunion of sorts and I was very happy to see them. I settled into the corner on the floor of the 6×10 room, sparsely decorated with a rug, outdated wall-hangings, and fading blue paint. Following a brief introduction and the gathering of some data, I listened to the all too familiar stories from these eleven Nike factory workers. Despite the fact that they produce the real wealth (the stuff you can actually hold in your hands, or put on your feet) for the $19,200,000,000.00 sportswear giant, they still live in grinding poverty.

As our discussion continued, one of the women, her young face framed by her traditional Muslim headdress, shared how painfully difficult it is to live on her basic monthly salary of Rp1.110.000 ($114USD). Her rent is Rp300.000 and there is pressure to send Rp350.000 back to her family in the village. If there is no overtime for her to work and earn extra pay, this leaves her with Rp405.000 for the month to meet the rest of her basic needs.

Let’s do some math here. If she has Rp.405.000 after rent and sending money home to her family and you divide that Rp405.000 by the average amount of days in a month (30), she is left with Rp15.500 per day to meet the rest of her basic needs. And when a simple meal of rice, vegetables, tempeh, and a small piece of fish costs Rp8.000 and a bottle of iced tea costs Rp2.500, it should be no surprise why she was near tears as she shared that she has to borrow money every month from friends and neighbors to make ends meet.

The remainder of our discussion focused on what we could do together to help get workers the raises they deserve. I shared with them that the consumers and investors from around the world (4,000 of whom live in Jakarta) who are part of TEAM SWEAT are ready to support them in their fight. The workers then shared their fears with me, that if they fight for the wage they want and deserve (Rp3.000.000 per month) and go on strike to make it happen, that they could be fired and that Nike could pull orders from their factory.

I responded to this by saying that their fears may be justified and then I raised the following, “What else would you like to do? Nike’s making money, the factory is making money, the athletes are making money… and you continue to live in poverty. When are you going to stand up and fight for yourselves?” It was a difficult thing for me to say and I prefaced it by letting them know that I shared it with love and solidarity. But I remained firm that Nike’s Indonesian workers could not continue to look for people like me to act like a Santa Claus and bring them the gift of better working conditions and fair wages. It was time for them to take action. Still fearful, they agreed.

We will meet again on Thursday night to continue our discussion and lay the groundwork for a specific action.

Peace, Jim Keady

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JUNE 8, 2010: THE SEARCH FOR SCRAP SHOE RUBBER

June 16th, 2010

Team Sweat:

I started today by meeting with Alif and Benny, my friends and colleagues that have been working to organize things prior to my arrival in Indonesia. They reported that contacts have been made with workers at a number of Nike factories and that meetings with workers are in the process of being confirmed. They shared that the key issues remain the same: workers’ wages are too low to meet basic needs; and the workers continue to be afraid of the power that Nike has over them (i.e. they fear doing real organizing and exercising their right to strike for better wages because they could be fired and/or Nike will pull orders).

As our discussion continued, Alif shared something very interesting with me. As I noted above, I did my best to keep my travel plans (specific dates, etc.) a secret on this trip. Despite this, at 7:31pm on Monday night, about 20 minutes before my plane was about to land, Alif got a text message from one of the staff members at Nike’s Jakarta office - “When Jim arrives in Indonesia, tell him I said, ‘hi.’” How Nike knew I was en route is somewhat unsettling, but it is the nature of my work.

After our meeting in Jakarta, Alif and I headed out to a Nike factory. Our plan was to sit outside the plant and wait for the dump truck that carries the scrap shoe rubber to leave the factory and follow it.

A Nike scrap shoe rubber dump site in 2001.

A little background on this… In the summer of 2000, I first unearthed the fact that scrap shoe from Nike plants was being dumped and burned in villages. The slow burning of Nike shoe rubber at a relatively low heat emits dangerous toxins into the air, soil and water. Despite the fact that I put Nike on notice with regard to this issue in 2000, 2001, and 2002, when I returned to Indonesia in 2008, I once again documented the same problem. In the summer of 2008, I shared my updated findings with the top executives at Nike and was promised that it would be addressed. In July of 2009, during my visit to Nike factories with Caitlin Morris, Nike’s Director of Innovation and Sustainable Business, I was shown the new waste management system that would rectify this issue. While it looked impressive, I was not convinced that it would address the problem. Why? Because implementing that kind of system and changing the culture that drives that system would take REAL investment from Nike. What happens now is that Nike tells their subcontractors, “we want this done.” But Nike does not provide the factory with any capital to make it happen, nor are they willing to increase the price they pay to the factories for Nike sneakers to offset the costs. So what you end up with is a nice show for the monitors and Nike telling the world that they have addressed these issues and they have a new system in place, etc. But the reality remains unchanged on the ground.

So, we sat there for hours, clandestinely waiting, but to no avail. We would have to try again.

Peace, Jim Keady

JUNE 7, 2010: MY RESEARCH IN INDONESIA BEGINS

June 16th, 2010

Team Sweat:

After more than a day of travel, I reached Jakarta safely and am ready to begin 10 days of research on the current state of conditions for Nike factory workers here.

I am hopeful that this trip will be productive and rewarding. I also am hopeful that you will enjoy and learn from the accounts of my daily activities.

JUST(ice) DO IT.

Peace, Jim Keady

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CLASH OF THE TITANS - WILL UW STAY WITH NIKE?

June 11th, 2010

June 11, 2010
PUBLISHED IN “INSIDE HIGHER ED”
By Jack Stripling

Before he leaves to head the nation’s premier sports governing body, Mark Emmert may have a showdown with the world’s leading athletics apparel provider.

Emmert, who now serves president of the University of Washington and will soon become chief of the National Collegiate Athletic Association, has been urged not to renew the university’s licensing agreement with Nike. In a Tuesday letter to the president, the university’s Advisory Committee on Trademarks and Licensing relayed its unanimous decision that the agreement be severed, barring a satisfactory resolution to an ongoing labor dispute between Nike and Honduran workers.

“[The Committee] feels strongly that we have waited long enough for Nike to meet its responsibility [regarding] workers in its supply chain,” wrote Margaret Levi, co-chair of the committee and a professor of international studies. “We urge you to accept our advice.”

The committee, which previously pressed Emmert to find Nike in violation of the university’s code of conduct, includes student, faculty and staff representatives. While its recommendations are advisory, Emmert has followed the committee’s suggestions in the past.

When the University of Wisconsin at Madison became the first university to end its Nike agreement over the Honduran worker dispute, Chancellor Biddy Martin did so at the behest of the university’s labor licensing committee — the equivalent of the group now encouraging Emmert to do the same.

Washington’s contract with Nike ends December 2010, a month after Emmert is slated to begin his new duties as president of the NCAA. Whether Emmert will make the decision or leave it to his successor at Washington is unclear, a university spokesman said Thursday.

“He’s not come to any decisions,” said Norman Arkans, associate vice president for communications. “I have no idea how long he’s going to take to think about it, but that’s up to him.”

Many of the NCAA’s members, and the NCAA itself, have licensing agreements with Nike. Additionally, Nike is a founding sponsor of iHoops, a youth basketball program run by the NCAA and the National Basketball Association (NBA).

Asked whether his future position as head of the NCAA added any gravity to Emmert’s decision over Washington’s contract, Arkans said “that’s for somebody else to speculate.”

“He’s still president of the University of Washington, and he is acting right up until his last day as the president of the University of Washington,” he said. “He has responsibilities here.”

Emmert’s future with the NCAA is just one of the interesting twists at Washington. The university’s provost, Phyllis Wise, recently became a member of Nike’s corporate board, drawing some criticism from students and faculty who decry the company’s labor practices. Orin Smith, who has served on Nike’s board since 2004, is also a member of the university’s board of regents.

The regents have yet to say whether Wise will step in as interim president when Emmert departs, but as the second-in-command it would be unsurprising for her to take on the role. Even if she does become interim chief, Wise would continue to recuse herself from decisions about Nike, just as she does now as provost, Arkans said.

“It will be another university official with the authority to make that decision,” he said.

It would be unfortunate, however, if circumstances necessitated such a weighty decision about Nike being made at a lower administrative level, said Angelina Snodgrass Godoy, director of the university’s Center for Human Rights.

“I think it’s imperative that this be a presidential-level decision,” she said.

“I don’t question [Wise’s] sincerity in recusing herself,” Godoy added. “But if she’s in a position supervising others who are tasked with [deciding on the Nike agreement] and she sits on Nike’s board, it creates a situation that looks an awful lot to me like a conflict of interest.”

Asked about the committee’s recommendation, a Nike spokeswoman said Thursday that the company “greatly values its relationship with the University of Washington.” Erin Patterson, the spokeswoman, went on to say in an e-mail that the company had not violated the university’s conduct code because “no university branded product” was produced at either of the two Honduras-based companies that have generated controversy over labor practices. There was a “one time order” of Nike products without Washington logos, however, provided to the university through one of the suppliers, Patterson said.

Washington’s ties to Nike have prompted protests from United Students Against Sweatshops (USAS), and the organization was quick to say Thursday that the committee’s letter represented a test for the university to prove its administrators’ ties to the company truly aren’t a conflict.

“If President Emmert doesn’t drop the UW’s Nike contract, I think the most lasting impact will be national attention to the UW as a case study of corporate control of a public university, since anti-sweatshop issues aren’t going away anytime soon,” Rod Palmquist, a spokesman for USAS, wrote in an e-mail to Inside Higher Ed.

Nike has been under fire from labor groups for years, but the catalytic event that’s caused such a backlash at Washington involves two of Nike’s supplier factories, Hugger de Honduras and Vision Tex, in Honduras. The Worker Rights Consortium, which counts Washington among its member universities, found that the factories closed without paying workers who were legally mandated severance totalling more than $2 million.

Nike has responded by offering training and vocational programs, but the company maintains it bears no financial liability.

“Nike is absolutely concerned for the workers in Honduras and we are deeply disappointed that the two failed sub-contract factories did not pay the workers their full severance pay,” the company said in April. “However, it remains Nike’s position that factories which directly employ workers are responsible for ensuring that their employees receive their correct entitlements and as such Nike will not be paying severance to workers that were employed by Hugger and Vision Tex.”

For Washington’s advisory committee, the response from Nike thus far has been insufficient. In its letter to Emmert, the committee said the contract should only be renewed if the workers “receive the terminal compensation owed them under Honduran law” or reach a legitimate settlement agreement.

The university’s stand on the Nike issue is “hugely important” to sending a message to the company, Godoy said.

“I would say Nike’s conduct in this case has been abysmal, and I’m not only referring to the [university conduct code] violation itself,” she said. “What I think is particularly abysmal has been their response to that situation. They’ve essentially done nothing of significance to change the situation of workers on the ground.”

BUSINESSWEEK: WORLD CUP PROFITS BYPASS ASIAN SOCCER-BALL STICHERS

June 11th, 2010

June 09, 2010, 4:39 AM EDT
By James Rupert

June 9 (Bloomberg) — Asian workers who stitch nearly all the world’s soccer balls have seen little improvement in lives dominated by poverty, a report said days before the start of the World Cup, which promises sports gear companies a sales bonanza.

Thirteen years after companies such as Germany’s Adidas AG and Nike Inc. joined labor and development organizations to end the use of an estimated 7,000 children to stitch soccer balls, “child labor continues to exist” in the three main ball-making countries of Pakistan, China and India, according a June 7 report by the Washington-based International Labor Rights Forum.

In those countries and Thailand, the fourth major ball- producer, adult workers often are paid too little to support their families. Some children still stitch balls at home, while others have migrated to new work, the report said.

“The international campaign of the 1990s removed bonded child labor from our soccer-ball industry, but these children moved to auto workshops, brick kilns and the like,” said Arshed Makhdoom Sabir, president of Ours Pakistan, a non-profit, development organization in Sialkot, Pakistan.

Sialkot is the hub of an industry that made about 75 percent of the world’s hand-sewn soccer balls in the 1990s, and still makes most high-quality balls, the ILRF report said. Adidas is marketing Sialkot-made replicas of its high-tech Jabulani, a machine-molded ball made in China for use in World Cup matches.

Sub-Minimum Wages
The labor forum’s researchers surveyed 218 workers for Sialkot companies that export balls and other products to sports retailers including Nike and Adidas, the two largest in the world. While suppliers for the two big companies provided better conditions for their workers, more than half of Sialkot’s soccer-ball stitchers reported 2009 pay that was below Pakistan’s monthly minimum wage of 6,000 rupees ($70), the report said.

For sewing together the 32 polyurethane outer panels of a soccer ball that sells for $50 in the United States, a Sialkot worker is paid as little as 50 rupees (59 cents) “so obviously international companies can make bigger profits in Pakistan,” Sabir said.

Adidas, Nike
Adidas, based in the Bavarian town of Herzogenaurach, is sponsoring the FIFA World Cup and 12 of the 32 competing national teams, in an effort to beat its 2008 record soccer- related sales of 1.3 billion euros ($1.92 billion), which was fueled by that year’s European Championship tournament. Beaverton, Oregon-based Nike is sponsoring 10 teams in the tournament, which kicks off in South Africa on June 11, as it challenges Adidas’s dominance in soccer retailing.

“Adidas believes that factory wages should always meet basic needs and also provide for reasonable savings and expenditure” by workers, said company spokeswoman Katja Schreiber in an e-mail. Adidas suppliers pay permanent workers “an average of 7,500 rupees per month, plus social benefits,” she said.

Nike “has been working to change how factories in Pakistan pay for soccer balls to shift the industry from a piece-goods system to a wage-based system,” spokesman Derek Kent said by e- mail. The company “hopes to leverage this new model and our experience to establish best practices in the industry.”

Informal Economy
While Pakistan’s economy grew an average annual 7.2 percent from 2004 to 2007, the availability of formal jobs for Pakistanis declined, said Haris Gazdar, an economist at the Collective for Social Science Research in Karachi, Pakistan. By 2008, nearly 83 percent of male workers, and 93 percent of employed women worked in the informal economy, some as soccer- ball stitchers, beyond the effective reach of minimum wage laws and most other workers’ protection rules, Gazdar said.

Seventy percent of Pakistanis stitching balls are casual workers, often in violation of a law requiring employment contracts and the status of “permanent” worker after nine months of employment, the ILRF report said.

Pakistan on June 5 increased the minimum wage to 7,000 rupees ($82) per month, although “it might need to be twice that level” to let most workers meet basic needs for the average family of seven people, said Gazdar. The World Bank estimates that a quarter of Pakistan’s 180 million people live on less than $1 a day.

China, India
Sialkot-based Awan Sport Industries Ltd., which makes balls for Adidas, and Silver Star Group, which manufactures for Nike, provided significantly better working conditions than most local ball-makers because they used more permanent employees “in formal factory settings,” the report said.

Most Chinese soccer balls are machine-made, although companies in Jiangsu province hire women and children to hand- stitch balls, according to the report. Children still sew balls by hand in the Indian cities of Meerut and Jalandhar, it said.

–With assistance from Matt Townsend in New York and Holger Elfes in Dusseldorf. Editors: Mark Williams, John Brinsley

To contact the reporter on this story: James Rupert in New Delhi at jrupert3@bloomberg.net
To contact the editor responsible for this story: Bill Austin at billaustin@bloomberg.net

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NIKE SEES GLOBAL SWOOSH WITH SALES UP 40% BY 2015

June 11th, 2010

Team Sweat:

As you can see from the article below, Nike is projecting that their global sales will rise 40% by 2015 and revenues will hit $27,000,000,000.00.  Will the workers who produce the real wealth for Nike make similar gains or will they continue to live in abject poverty while the executives, investors and athletes reap the benefits of Nike’s success?

Peace, Jim Keady

PUBLISHED BY REUTERS

Wed May 5, 2010 6:29pm EDT

* Nike sees $27 billion in revenue by 2015

* Sales from China, Converse, store unit to double by ‘15

* China is second biggest market

* Shares down 2.8 percent (Adds comments from CEO, analyst, details on expansion)

By Martinne Geller and Alexandria Sage

NEW YORK/SAN FRANCISCO, May 5 (Reuters) - Nike Inc (NKE.N) expects its revenue to rise more than 40 percent to $27 billion by 2015, helped by new stores and demand for its namesake brand and smaller brands like Converse, the athletic giant said on Wednesday.

“We’re going to continue to build, fuel and accelerate the Nike portfolio,” said Chief Executive Mark Parker, addressing a crowd during an investor day held in New York.

“Tremendous opportunity” still exists to grow the Nike brand organically, and the company will continue to launch “game-changing innovations,” Parker said.

Some $23 billion of that overall $27 billion revenue target will come from the Nike brand itself, executives said.

The world’s largest athletic shoe and clothing maker is stressing growth in emerging markets and through its younger non-Nike brands as it faces largely mature markets in the United States, Europe and Japan.

Company executives listed different businesses that would double in size within five years, from Nike’s China business to its owned stores and online unit to popular brands like Converse and Hurley, which currently have wholesale businesses worth $2.4 billion and $200 million, respectively.

The company, whose signature “swoosh” logo is recognized around the world, derives most of its profit from Nike-branded gear, but its smaller brands are among the fastest-growing, in part because they extend the reach of the athletic company.

“Think of Converse as an inspired-by-basketball brand. It drifts into other areas — into music, into rock and roll … where Nike wouldn’t go,” said Eunan McLaughlin, president of Nike’s affiliates unit.

Converse is only owned and managed by Nike in the United States and Canada, leaving room for Nike to expand earnings and revenue as it takes control in China and the U.K., he said.

Shares of Nike are up 41 percent since January 2009, but fell 2.8 percent on Wednesday.

Susquehanna Financial analyst Christopher Svezia said there was “a lot of hype” before the meeting, as many investors hoped for news regarding Nike’s retail strategy.

“People like what they’re saying but I don’t know if anybody’s getting their socks knocked off,” Svezia said. “It’s not a revolution, it’s an evolution.” He said investors may also have concerns about the costs of Nike’s planned growth.

SMALLER, FOCUSED STORES

Beaverton, Oregon-based Nike posted overall revenue of $19.2 billion in its full fiscal year ended May 31, 2009.

Parker reiterated the company’s long-term growth targets, which call for high-single-digit revenue growth and earnings per share growth in the mid-teens on a percentage basis.

Nike Brand President Charlie Denson said the growth of the middle class around the world would guide the brand to new audiences. Over 70 percent of the company’s future growth would come from outside North America, executives said, from 60 percent today.

Nike sells mainly through wholesale channels, but also operates its own fleet of stores, including 472 factory stores in 33 countries.

In an interview on the meeting’s sidelines, CEO Parker said Nike’s store expansion would focus on smaller stores instead of the very large “Niketown” stores it opened in the past.

“I don’t think you’ll see more of the … mega footprints that we have today as much as smaller footprints that we can showcase the best of the category product,” Parker said.

In addition to stores that focus on a particular brand like Nike or Converse, Jeanne Jackson, head of Nike’s direct-to-consumer business, said there would be more smaller stores focusing on a single category, like soccer or running. These include a brand-new running store in Stanford, California and an upcoming soccer store in Manchester, England.

The company expects to add between 250 and 300 Nike owned stores across the globe within five years. It is planning a related $500 million to $600 million in capital spending over that same period.

It expects the direct-to-consumer businesses — which includes its owned stores and online business — to double by 2015. It was about $2.4 billion in fiscal 2009.

Parker said the company’s cumulative free cash flow from operations should hit $12 billion by 2015. Nike will continue to grow its dividend and will spend $5 billion in share buybacks over the next five years, he said.

Nike shares closed at $75.21 on the New York Stock Exchange, down $2.14.

(Reporting by Martinne Geller and Alexandria Sage, writing by Alexandria Sage, editing by Dave Zimmerman, Gunna Dickson and Bernard Orr)

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SETTING HIGH STANDARDS: SHOULD CORNELL CONTINUE WITH NIKE?

June 11th, 2010

PUBLISHED IN THE CORNELL DAILY SUN

May 3, 2010

On Thursday, the University Licensing Oversight Committee will meet to decide whether or not Cornell should continue its current relationship with Nike, given the company’s mistreatment of their workers in Honduras. The committee should end all of Cornell’s contracts with Nike until the company improves its labor practices in Honduras — where $2.2 million worth of pension payments are currently being withheld from employees by the sporting goods giant. Cornell, and other universities across the country, are in a unique position that can influence the policies and practices of companies like Nike, and improve the conditions of workers globally.

We commend the actions of University of Wisconsin which, under the leadership of Chancellor Biddy Martin (former provost at Cornell), ended its contract with Nike last week. By following Wisconsin’s example, Cornell and other universities will send a powerful message to all companies with unfair labor practices. Profit-driven corporations such as Nike will only change the way they do business when it makes financial sense to do so — if Cornell and its peer institutions chose to end their relationships with Nike, it would not only make a strong public statement, but would hit the corporation in the only place that truly hurts, the wallet.

Some in the Cornell community have been quick to show Day Hall their distaste for the University’s contract with Nike, with student groups such as the Cornell Organization for Labor Action and the Cornell Students Against Sweatshops organizing a rally on Ho Plaza this afternoon. The rally is another chance for the community to make a statement about what types of businesses Cornell should be dealing with. Regardless of one’s opinions on U.S. corporation’s use of cheap labor in developing nations, it is clear that any business who commits such an egregious contract violation (as Nike did) should not having a working relationship with our University.

This type of action has already proven to be successful. Last February, Cornell was one of many universities to end its ties with Russell Athletics, which had violated labor laws in Honduras. The financial and media pressure created by the large number of universities that severed ties with Russell forced the company to make changes to its labor practices. A month after Cornell ended its contract with Russell, the company announced it would rehire the 1,200 workers fired after they attempted to form a union, and recognize the union itself. The University’s swift action was commendable, but less encouraging is the fact that these issues seem to continually arise. Granted, Nike and Russell are two ubiquitous apparel suppliers. But, Cornell still could, and should, do a better job of looking into the business practices of the companies with which it contracts, to ensure that they are up to the standards the University sets for itself.

By severing ties with Nike, Cornell can take another step in improving the quality of life for millions of laborers around the globe. While the incident at hand is only one of many harmful and illegal labor practices that occur, addressing it sends a strong message about the University’s commitment to labor standards and sets a precedent for Nike and other companies.

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WILL UW STAND UP TO NIKE?

June 11th, 2010

PUBLISHED IN THE SEATTLE PI

APRIL 28, 2010

Nike has been in clear and open violation of its contract with the University of Washington for over a year.

That contract requires that contractors hired by Nike to produce apparel with the UW logo abide by the UW’s “code of conduct,” which states that UW contractors must uphold the labor conditions of the countries that they work in. But last January, 2009, two factories in Honduras that produced Nike apparel with the UW logo (as well as the logo of other U.S. universities)–Hugger and Vision Tex–fired over 1800 employees without paying them the $2.6 million in severance and benefits they were due under Honduran law.

UW Professors Angelina Godoy and James Gregory wrote an Op-Ed for the Seattle Times about the violation last September, 2009 demanding that the UW require that Nike pay the workers their legally required severance. After communicating with Nike and the Workers Rights Consortium, UW’s Advisory Committee on Trademarks and Licensing (ACTL) determined on December 3 that Nike was indeed in violation of its UW contract.

On December 23, President Mark Emmert informed Nike that it is currently in violation of its contract with the UW, noting that “I believe it is important to take this opportunity to underscore the importance of the Code of Conduct and emphasize Nike’s obligation to fully comply with it. I value the University’s relationship with Nike, but I also value highly the rights of laborers in Nike’s manufacturing plants. The failure of Nike to properly respond to these current issues will inevitably jeopardize our business relationship… A continued relationship between the University of Washington and Nike is very much contingent on your appropriate resolution of this matter.” He had a follow-up meeting with Nike about his letter on January 4, 2010.

But five months later, Nike hasn’t done anything of substance to correct the violation, and the UW is refusing to hold Nike’s feet to the fire.

It’s in this context that Gina Cano and Lowlee Urquia– two Honduran workers who are owed their severance from the Hugger and Vision Tex factories– are visiting the UW Wednesday night as part of their travels throughout the country to tell their story. They will be speaking at 7 p.m. at Smith Hall, Room 102 on the UW campus. In addition to providing testimony about the working conditions in Nike factories that produced apparel for the UW or with the UW logo on it, their visit is a rare opportunity to learn about globalization–specifically about outsourcing by U.S. companies– directly from the perspectives of factory workers and not just those who presume to speak on behalf of those workers (be they businesses or non-profits). The event is sponsored by United Students Against Sweatshops, whose UW-affiliate is the Student Labor Action Project. (On May 1, Gina and Lowlee will be part of a May Day march to Nike’s offices in Portland to demand justice for unpaid workers)

But will the UW listen to Gina and Lowlee? Indeed, does it have the economic independence and moral courage to really hear what these workers have to say, let alone act on their testimony?

I’m not optimistic. Why? Because there are numerous and significant conflicts of interest within the UW administration that prevent it from adequately enforcing its code of conduct with Nike.

The office tasked with enforcing the university’s code of conduct–Creative Communications, formerly known as the Trademarks and Licensing office– not only negotiates contracts with university licensees, but is also partly sustained by those contracts, which bring in more than $1 million annually. And because the UW’s Athletics program is self-sustaining–which is to say that it does not receive funding from students’ tuition or state taxpayers–it is dependent upon UW contracts with apparel manufacturers to help finance its operations. These factors would both influence the President’s office in normal times, since part of the President’s job is to raise money from UW alumni, and many donors care a great deal about the success of the Athletics program. But during a time of recession and state budget cuts, UW dependence upon such funding becomes even more intense.

To help address this imbalance, but also to help diffuse student protests, President Emmert created ACTL–a standing university committee–to advise him on code of conduct enforcement. ACTL is a committee that was reformed after its predecessor, the Licensing Advisory Committee, dissolved in acrimony following the announcement that the UW had renewed its contract with Nike for 10 years without consulting the committee. Like its predecessor, it has no institutional power whatsoever. It has no staff, the UW is under no requirement to provide it with full and timely information about its contracts, and its recommendations to the President are entirely discretionary. Finally, its voting membership is influenced by the presence of administrators. Both Creative Communications and Athletics departments have voting members on ACTL, as does the President’s Office, giving them 3 out of 11 votes. In addition, one faculty member with voting privileges, Business Professor Debra Glassman, is married to someone who works in the apparel industry but she will not disclose to the committee who he works for.

These conflicts of interest are especially acute when it comes to the UW’s relationship to Nike. Nike has been the UW’s “sideline partner” since 1997, and in 2008 was given a 10 year extension on that partnership. In exchange for the UW placing Nike’s logo on UW sports team apparel, Nike provides the UW with free sporting equipment and apparel, along with cash payments. The total value of the current ten year contract is estimated at somewhere between $35 million and $40 million for the UW. In addition, Provost Phyllis Wise–whose job is basically Director of Operations at the UW– and Regent Orin Smith–who serves on the board that ratifies UW’s sideline partnership deals–both receive six figure compensation packages from serving on Nike’s Board of Directors (Wise began in 2009 and Smith was only began serving as a Regent this year). Even the UW’s logo was designed by Nike, and is not-so-affectionately referred to as “the weasel” by UW administrators angered by the fact that Nike inserted an upside down Nike swoosh to form the Husky’s jaw (the UW is in the process of redesigning this logo as part of its new agreement with Nike).

It’s no wonder, then, that attempts to get even token support for labor rights into the UW’s contract with Nike have proven futile. The UW announced its renewed sideline partnership with Nike in 2008 only weeks after Australian Channel 7 disclosed that Nike had been employing people in neo-slavery conditions in Malaysia– immigrants held captive against their will and forced to work for their freedom. The Board of Regents delayed its consideration of the contract for months to consider criticism of the lack of labor standards in the contract. When the Regents almost balked at approving the contract, the administration got Nike to write a special letter stating that “the University of Washington Board of Regents has NIKE’s assurance that NIKE… [will make] good faith efforts to foster compliance by its factories to with NIKE’s code of conduct, as currently written, and the Fair Labor Association Workplace Code of Conduct.” Significantly, Nike made no promise to uphold the UW’s code of conduct. But the Board of Regents endorsed the sideline partnership deal anyway.

When Professor Margaret Levi worked with President Emmert following the signing of the sideline partnership deal with Nike to coordinate higher labor standards for goods purchased by “Nike schools” in the Pac-10 and around the country, Nike gave nothing substantive and the effort fell flat, though Professor Levi continues to talk publicly about the possibility of reviving the effort.

All of this provides background for understanding the impotence of the UW to respond to Nike’s near-complete disregard for UW concerns about Nike’s violation of the UW’s code of conduct.

While President Emmert could have put Nike “on notice” that the UW would cut Nike’s contract if it failed to “remediate” its violation of its contract, he chose to issue a less-forceful, “strongly worded letter.” The UW has followed the issue closely in communications with Nike, and as more information has come to the surface showing that Hugger and Vison Tex mistreated their workers in other ways. But it has still so far shown an unwillingness to begin the process of cutting its contract with Nike.

On December 23, 2009, Nike responded to concerns raised by President Emmert and other university presidents with a letter which claimed that there had been a “miscommunication” about how much apparel Nike had produced for universities at the two Honduran factories. It also disclaimed any responsibility for the conduct or legal obligations of its contractors (since it doesn’t own the factories in question), despite the fact that this stand cuts against the codes of conduct it agreed to comply with in its contracts with various universities. And that, more or less, has been its line ever since.

Meanwhile, the Workers Rights Consortium has documented that “in the months prior to closing, Hugger and Vision Tex failed to make legally required payments on workers’ behalf to Honduras’ national health insurance program and instead illegally pocketed the deductions from employee pay that are supposed to be used for this purpose.” This is a clear violation of the UW’s code of conduct, and occurred during a time when the factories were still producing apparel for Nike.

On March 15, Nike informed the UW that beyond providing worker retraining programs for Hugger and Vison Tex workers, it would not kick in funds to ensure that the workers were paid what they are legally owed. That worker retraining program has denied interviews with the Workers Rights Consortium and local unions, however.

Yet in a show of weakness, ACTL has advised the President to not put Nike on notice for its contract violations. In a March 23 letter to Emmert, it said that “The ACTL is satisfied that Nike is making satisfactory progress in terms of disclosure although there is still far more to be done on this front and in terms of adequate facility oversight.” It went on to recommend “a delay in putting Nike on notice” so that it could gather more information from and apply more pressure to Nike, even though Nike has openly stated that it will not do anything further on this case.

In short, the UW has caved. It refuses to exercise the only power it has over Nike–the legal threat to cut its contract. Placing Nike on notice would still give Nike 90 days to comply with the order, and could reopen a dialogue that Nike has itself closed. But the UW hasn’t done it, and is making its legal contracts appear like paper tigers.

Meanwhile, the University of Wisconsin has cut its contract with Nike, and students around the country have mobilized a “just pay it campaign” to get other schools to follow suit. If the UW wants its contracts to mean anything, if it wants its contractors to take it seriously, if it doesn’t want to appear captive to big businesses like Nike, it must put Nike on notice that the UW will cut its contract if Gina, Lowlee, and their former coworkers in Honduras aren’t paid what they are due.

-Trevor Griffey

HONDURAN WORKERS DEMAND $2.2 MILLION FROM NIKE AT PORTLAND AREA WORKERS’ RIGHTS BOARD

June 11th, 2010

JOBS WITH JUSTICE BLOG

By Margaret Butler, on April 28th, 2010

Last night, just a few miles away from Nike’s global headquarters, two Honduran workers spoke out strongly about how Nike’s destructive labor practices have hurt them, their families and their co-workers. Gina Cano and Lowlee Urquía testified in front of members of the Portland Area Workers’ Rights Board and a crowd of more than 100 community members.

Both women had worked in Nike-contracted factories for many years in Honduras before being laid off without notice, and without legally mandated severance pay in January 2009. “We’re here in Oregon, the home of Nike, because we want to put a face to the consequences of Nike’s behavior”, said Lowlee Urquía. “We’re saying to Nike that it is responsible every step of the way.”

The two women represented over 1,700 workers who are owed $2.2 million in severance pay. The workers are also owed health care premiums, which were deducted from their wages but never paid to the health care system. This meant that workers could not access health care in the four months before the closure. At least one worker, who had been receiving cancer treatment, died because of this denial of care, according to the worker testimony.

The two workers and expert witness Jeff Ballinger, a long-time anti-sweatshop activist, told the story of how the two plants produced Nike product for 13 years before the closure. Nike had contracted with three apparel companies, Haddad, Anvil, and New Holland Lingerie, who in turn had contracted with the two factories, Hugger de Honduras and Vision Tex. Workers at both plants started organizing unions just prior to the closure.

Nike was invited to offer their perspective, but chose not to come and testify, stating in a letter that this open community hearing was “not the most effective forum for constructive dialogue.” In correspondence with United Students Against Sweatshops, Nike claimed it did not have significant production in the two factories, and said except for one batch of orders, the plants did not produce clothing for the university market.

The two workers strongly refuted this claim. Gina Cano told the Workers’ Rights Board that, “the Nike Code of Conduct was posted all over the walls in Spanish and English.” Cano told the panel that her factory made 60 to 100% Nike apparel. Urquía testified that Vision Tex made about 80% Nike apparel. Both plants received yearly inspections from Nike auditors. Nike’s Code of Conduct binds their contractors to pay wages and benefits as required by local law. The posted Codes of Conduct were “purely decorative,” Cano told the WRB that. “They didn’t mean anything.”

Workers’ Rights Board panel members were moved by the testimony. Francisco Lopez, Executive Director of CAUSA Oregon and a Salvadoran immigrant, said, “It seems that Nike is the new United Fruit Company,” referring to the latter’s notorious exploitation of Central American workers in the 1950s. “It’s the same story, not bananas, but apparel. This is an opportunity for us to challenge Nike…all the money that [former Nike CEO Phil Knight] gives our University system is made on the backs of workers.”

The panel issued a statement finding that since Nike’s Code of Conduct binds its contractors to follow the Honduran law, it is responsible for making sure the workers are paid the severance owed them. The Workers’ Rights Board panel will seek to meet with Nike to communicate its findings, as well as issuing a report from the hearing to help educate the public about these issues. Workers’ Rights Board members and the Honduran workers will address the upcoming May Day march about these issues.

The case was brought to the Workers’ Rights Board by United Students Against Sweatshops (USAS), the national organization of college students organizing for the rights of garment workers and campus workers. USAS organizers have traveled cross-country with Cano and Urquía, as part of the campaign they’re calling “Just Pay It.”

The Portland Area Workers’ Rights Board panel was made up of Armando Gonzales, a leader with statewide MeCHA, Francisco Lopez, Executive Director of CAUSA Oregon, Joice Taylor, CEO of Global Management Strategies and chair of the N/NE Business Alliance, Deacon Marla McGarry-Lawrence of St Michael and All Angels Episcopal Church, Dr Martin Hart-Landsberg, Professor of Economics at Lewis and Clark College and Steve Novick, two-time winner of Willamette Week’s Activist of the Year award.

The Workers’ Rights Board is a project of Portland Jobs With Justice, a coalition of 85 unions and community groups working together in a campaign for workers’ rights.

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FORMER NIKE WORKERS PROTEST UNFAIR CONDITIONS

June 11th, 2010

The Daily Targum

Published: Monday, April 12, 2010

Two former Nike factory workers spoke to students Sunday night in an effort to push the University to cut ties with the corporation.
Gina Cano and Lowlee Uriquia, who both worked in the Honduras New Holland factories producing Nike apparel, spoke to about 100 people on the College Avenue campus about the exploitation they experienced after creating a workers’ union. They also touched upon how Nike denied responsibility and refused to pay workers severance.
Two Honduran clothing factories closed for unclear reasons on Jan. 19, 2009, leaving about 1,700 workers without a job, health insurance and severance pay, said Zachary Lerner, president of the Rutgers Chapter of the United Students Against Sweatshops, the sponsor of the event.
“Our whole point is that everyone wants to wear Nike clothes, you just want it so that they’re not made on the backs of people,” said Lerner, a Schools of Arts and Sciences junior. “[Nike] owes the workers between $2.2 million and $2.6 million, and in revenue Nike makes $2.2 million in one hour.”
The USAS is pushing the University to cut its ties with Nike, who produces the University’s apparel. Lerner said the situation violates both the University and Nike codes of business conduct.
The women spoke of exploitative practices, like being docked fees for the health insurance and never receiving the benefits of those services.
As the situation worsened, the workers created a union. In a day, management fired many top positions in the union, including the president and vice president, Uriquia said.
The workers said they were given no reason as to why the factory closed. But with the help of the Confederation of Honduran Unions and the Workers Rights Consortium, they pressured management to speak up, she said.
Uriquia said the workers were told the factories closed because they were no longer getting orders due to the economic crisis in the United States.
Cano, a union organizer, was hired at New Holland after Hugger de Honduras closed. She was fired two weeks into the job once management looked into her organizing background, she said.
“The probationary period at any factory is two months, and they gave me no kind of explanation as to why they were firing me,” Cano said. “Because we are part of this fight, because we’re in this struggle, both of us have been discriminated against. We’ve both been blacklisted.”
She said factories tend to prioritize individuals for hiring, mostly women between the ages of 18 and 25 who have never worked in these kinds of factories and do not know their rights.
According to an April 8 article in the Cornell Daily Sun published, Nike said they already did things they were not required to do regarding sub-contract workers, like providing training programs.
“It is not [our] responsibility to take care of sub-contract workers,” a Nike official said in the article.
The fundamental reason USAS says sweatshops exist is because companies like Nike, Adidas and Reebok abuse the power that they have in a global economy, said International Campaign Coordinator for USAS Rod Palmquist.
Sixteen supporters of the movement to end University ties with Nike approached University President Richard L. McCormick earlier in the semester, demanding he cut the contract due to labor rights violations. McCormick sent a letter to Nike and said he would look into it again at the end of the semester.
Lerner noted the University of Wisconsin cut their contract with Nike last Friday and said the University should follow in their steps.
“We need to do something right now. It can’t just be something we wait on,” he said.
The two women have been speaking as part of a national tour. They have previously spoken at universities such as Duke, Cornell, Brown and the Universities of Florida and Maryland.
The night ended with an outdoor candlelight ceremony with tea candles spelling out the words “Just Pay It,” though they were never lit due to weather and police enforcement restrictions.
School of Arts and Sciences first-year student Brett Kozinn said he would still wear Nike even after attending the event.
“[By] me not wearing Nike, [it] isn’t going to have a huge effect on this kind of thing,” he said. “I’m more inclined to get involved in something like this now, but not wearing Nike isn’t going to give those people their severance.”

FINANCIAL TIMES: WHY ANTI-SWEATSHOP CAMPAIGNS MIGHT JUST DO IT AFTER ALL

May 19th, 2010

Team Sweat:

Please read the article below from The Financial Times. This is an excellent rebuttal to the market fundamentalists out there who believe that our anti-sweatshop work is going to hurt the workers for whom we are advocating. It is clear from this piece that the facts do not support that position. In fact, the reality is that our campaigning is working and improving workers’ lives.

Let’s keep the momentum going!

Peace, Jim Keady

By Tim Harford
Published: May 8 2010 01:25
Financial Times Weekend Magazine (UK)

When my book The Undercover Economist was published five years ago, I would occasionally be asked whether I was in favour of sweatshops in developing countries. Not at all, I would reply. But I could see where the question was coming from, because I was certainly worried as to whether campaigning against them would do any good.

My argument had a logic that will be familiar to economists. Unless sweatshop workers are literally slaves, they are presumably working long hours in horrible conditions for low pay only because the alternative ways of making a living are worse.

When a well-meaning group of activists launches a campaign against sweatshop labour among, say, Nike suppliers in Indonesia, the obvious risk is that the sweatshops are closed, workers are tossed out on to the street, and the work is shifted to computerised sewing machines in Osaka. This is surely not the aim. The only alternative is economic growth: while it may be frustratingly slow, it finishes off sweatshops by producing far more attractive jobs.

But while the logic is straightforward enough, it is not watertight. A successful multinational may be profitable enough to be able to afford wage increases, and may prefer to take wage increases on the chin rather than move its business around. Economic growth itself can increase the demand for child labour as well as reducing the supply.

So I was intrigued to discover two new pieces of research addressing these questions. One is an article in March’s American Economic Review, written by Ann Harrison of the University of California, Berkeley, and Jason Scorse of the Monterey Institute. Harrison and Scorse study data from Indonesia. In the 1990s, Indonesia was the focus of anti-sweatshop campaigns that persuaded the US government to put pressure on its Indonesian counterpart, and encouraged US consumers to boycott companies such as Nike. (An influential study in 1989 had found that Nike’s suppliers paid lower wages than other companies in the export sector.) Harrison and Scorse look at the footwear, textile and clothing sectors and compare regions with lots of brand-name suppliers to regions with lower-profile businesses.

If my argument is correct, Harrison and Scorse would have found a slump in employment in export factories in the brand-name regions. There is little sign of this. Profits do fall, and so does investment. Some small plants closed. But few, if any, jobs seem to have been lost.

The minimum wage in Indonesia more than doubled between 1989 and 1996, after inflation, and this did depress employment. But there seemed to be no additional effect in the districts with lots of brand-name suppliers, despite the fact that wages in those regions outpaced wage increases elsewhere by almost a third.

The second paper was presented in draft form at the Royal Economic Society meeting in Guildford at the end of March. This research, by Nigar Hashimzade and Uma Kambhampati of the University of Reading, shows that economic growth – at least in the short-term – is not enough to reduce child labour. Complementary policies to strengthen schools and the incentive to attend them seem to be necessary.

Neither piece of research is the last word, and neither discounts the long-term effectiveness of economic growth in improving working conditions. But I am having to think again about anti-sweatshop campaigns. At least I am in good company. John Maynard Keynes is reported to have quipped, “When the facts change, I change my mind. What do you do, sir?”

Tim Harford’s latest book is ‘Dear Undercover Economist’ (Little, Brown)

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KEADY TALKS SWEATSHOPS AT THE UNIVERSITY OF SAN DIEGO

May 18th, 2010

By Ellie Faulkner
Staff Writer
Published: Thursday, May 6, 2010
The Vista, University of San Diego

In a search for the truth about Nike’s labor practices, Jim Keady spent time in Indonesia to see what working as one of Nike’s factory workers was really like. He lived on $1.25 a day and resided in what he described as a “9 feet by 9 feet cement block” worker’s slum. Huge rats were frequent houseguests and the open sewage system flowed right next to the sidewalk outside. Over the course of a month there, he lost 25 pounds. His reasoning for embarking on the crusade in Nike’s sweatshops stems from his studies as well as his interests.

Back in 1997, Keady was a soccer coach at St. John’s University while simultaneously working towards his masters in theology. A class assignment led him to research how Nike’s labor practices violate human rights. Concurrently, St. John’s was negotiating a $3.5 million endorsement deal with Nike, meaning that he, as a coach, would be required to wear and endorse Nike. Keady realized that it would be hypocritical for a Catholic school, supposedly an institution of Catholic social thought, to partner itself with a transnational sports empire that was violating human rights. This realization turned to activism and he lost his coaching job because he refused to drop the issue and wear Nike. Soon after, he embarked on his life-changing trip to Indonesia and formed Team Sweat, an organization committed to changing Nike’s labor practices.

Nike currently employs a million workers in 1,000 factories across 52 different countries. When Keady tried to ask Nike about their labor policies, he was met with subterfuge and lies. He pursued answers through many different divisions of the company, and even tried to set up a meeting with Phil Knight, the former CEO of Nike. Often he was turned away, and when he did receive an answer, the information was often conflicting. Nike would like to have the public believe that they have cleaned up their act, but Keady said he went to Indonesia, saw the reality of Nike sweatshops with his own eyes, and made a short film about his time there. It can be viewed at vimeo.com/6109896.

It should also be noted that Nike is not the only company that uses sweatshops; sweatshops are the reality of most modern apparel production. Nike was simply the company that first caught Keady’s attention and he chose to make an example of it for four reasons, as listed on his website, teamsweat.org.

First, Nike is the leader in the sportswear industry. They control roughly 45 percent of the global market. Second, Nike led the push into low wage countries with poor human rights records. They exploited, and continue to exploit, these countries for their cheap labor. Third, labor abuses in Nike factories have been extensively and reliably documented over a 15-year period. There is no other company for which there is this much objective research. Finally, as the company with the largest profit margins in the industry ($1.5 billion in profits in 2008) Nike can more easily afford to ensure living wages and fair working conditions in their factories.

However, the mission is not to boycott Nike. Although Keady feels it would be effective, the factory workers themselves have not asked for a boycott. The mission is to put continued pressure on Nike to change their labor policies by educating people about the sweatshop situation.

If Keady’s organization, Team Sweat, is able to put enough pressure on Nike to clean up their act, then the same model of change can be replicated to change other companies and eventually the entire industry.

“The thing that I took away from the talk was that Nike is simply a case study and the largest corporation that owns sweatshops,” junior JaRae Birkeland said. “Plenty of other companies do the exact same thing. Adidas, Puma, Abercrombie, etcetera, all have sweatshops in Southeast Asia and other third world countries. Advocating against the Nike company is important but so is putting up a front against other companies as well and leaning towards purchasing fair trade products.”

When Keady presented this breakdown to a manager at an Indonesian factory, the manager said, “Hang on, they [Nike] only pay us $10 to $11 for a pair of shoes?” Even worse, upon further examination and number crunching, Keady found that to double the workers wages, in essence paying them about $5 per day instead of $2.43 per day, it would only cost Nike about seven percent of their advertising budget. There was silence in the room after Keady shared this.

Nike is a $18.6 billion dollar corporation, and if Nike would spare 7 percent of their advertising budget, they could double the wages that their workers receive and hence pay them a fair livable wage.

“One example that really shocked me and stuck with me was about how much Tiger Woods makes in one game of golf just by wearing Nike,” Birkeland said. “Tiger Woods is worth more than 700,000 workers and makes enough in one second of time to buy an Indonesian worker a house.”

It would take a Nike factory worker in Indonesia 9.5 years to make as much as Tiger makes for playing one round of golf clothed in Nike. Students wondered what this says about how North America measures the worth of a person.

Another poignant moment during the presentation was when Keady displayed a picture of Nike’s logo emblazoned alongside our school’s logo on merchandise from the bookstore.

“It was not the most comfortable part of the presentation because it shocked me,” junior Ryann Berens said. “The entire room as well kind of gasped and shifted in their seats. This is when the reality of the situation hit home and made it personal.”

Keady said that Nike is aiming to partner itself with Catholic schools because they want to associate themselves with places of Catholic teaching; it is a strategic public relations move.

So what can USD students do? Keady emphasized that the wrong question to ask is, “Okay where can I buy garments that are sweat free?” or “What brand can our athletics department wear instead?” He said that Team Sweat’s campaign is “not about assuaging your Catholic guilt.”

The campaign is not about helping you feel better about what you buy. What he would instead like people to ask themselves is, “How can I build solidarity with the workers and put pressure on Nike that will eventually eliminate sweatshops?” He encouraged the audience to write the current Nike CEO, Mike Parker, an email telling him about their concern for Nike’s factory workers (at Mike.Parker@nike.com). Tell people you know, hold demonstrations, and donate to Team Sweat so they can get the message out to more people.

Join the facebook group at facebook.com/teamsweat. In this campaign, education is power and the more people that know about Nike’s human rights violations, the more pressure it will put on Nike to change.

Slowly but surely, Keady said he has seen this approach create progress over the last 13 years.

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STUDENTS PROTEST CORNELL’S INVOLVEMENT WITH NIKE

May 18th, 2010

PUBLISHED IN THE CORNELL DAILY SUN
FEBRUARY 24, 2010
BY DAN FREEDMAN

As the afterglow of their success against Russell Athletic fades, University activists now face the prospect of dealing with what they view as a larger workers’ rights crisis with the corporate behemoth Nike.

In February 2009, relentless pressure from United Students Against Sweatshops forced Cornell to join nearly 100 universities across the country in boycotting Russell Athletic, after the apparel manufacturer allegedly closed one of its Honduran factories to prevent unionization. Nine months later, USAS groups celebrated a landmark victory when Russell decided to rehire the 1,200 Honduran workers who had lost their jobs.

Their campaign against Nike is just beginning. According to a press release issued Tuesday afternoon by Cornell’s chapter of Students Against Sweatshops, a new campaign dubbed, “Just Pay It,” has been initiated against the Nike Corporation for allegedly violating University code of conduct regulations at two of its apparel factories in Honduras. Following a meeting with University administrators, CSAS issued a statement condemning Nike and its subsidiary, the Haddad Group, for illegal wage practices following their closure of the Hugger de Honduras and Vision Tex factories in January 2009.

The unionized factories, which predominantly produced goods for Nike, including University apparel, were shut down by Nike subcontractor Haddad for “economic reasons.” According to CSAS though, after Nike stopped sourcing from the Honduran factories, forcing them into liquidation, both Nike and Haddad refused to pay their workers approximately $2.1 of $2.5 million in severance pay legally mandated by the Honduran Government. For CSAS leaders, this refusal represents a breach of university clothing codes of conduct as well as the Designated Suppliers Program regulations that Cornell endorses.

“Nike is trying to skirt its obligations by claiming there are legal loopholes that excuse their behavior,” Casey Sweeney, President of Cornell Organization for Labor Action, stated in the brief issued yesterday. “But both legally and morally, they are required to pay their workers.”

Besides Nike and Haddad’s legal obligations in Honduras, which COLA and CSAS leaders assert are being ignored, student activists are lobbying for Cornell to adhere to DSP, a set of policies that both governs apparel procurement and sets standards for labor practices for licensees of university logos.

While DSP has not been officially approved by the US Department of Justice, according to Alex Bores ‘13, President of CSAS, it is “something that Cornell signed onto in principle in 2006.”

According to Bores, the Workers’ Rights Consortium, which conducts audits to ensure that workers are treated fairly, monitors factories belonging to companies like Nike .

“We used them [the WRC] on our behalf to investigate charges brought against companies and overseas factories,” Mike Powers, vice president for university communications, told The Sun last year. “Cornell is committed to respecting the rights of workers around the world and we expect the companies that are licensed to produce Cornell apparel to share that commitment.”

Bores said that Nike has consequently violated WRC and Cornell’s code of conduct.

“Under Honduran law companies have to pay severance pay, but [the workers] only got money from the liquidation of the factory,” he said.

While student activists see many similarities between Nike and Russell Athletic, they are also quick to point out the differences between the two.

“The biggest difference is that Russell directly owned the factory where their violations occurred, whereas Nike is one-step removed by subcontractors,” CSAS member Bill Peterson ’10 said. “The unfortunate reality of apparel manufacturing is that sweatshops are often subcontracted. Nike denied that they were making Nike products there, yet they had huge Nike banners in the factories.”

This campaign may also prove more difficult than the campaign against Russell because Cornell is much more involved with Nike, which provides uniforms for athletic teams, than it was with Russell, Bores said.

“It’s a lot for the University to deal with, but if that’s what it takes to get justice for these workers then that’s what we’re going to push for,” Bores added.

Student activists hope to work together with Cornell to employ some of the same strategies used to influence Russell Athletics to adopt fairer labor practices.

“I think we’ll be able to get the workers paid,” Peterson said. “It’s going to be a really long campaign but I don’t see why not. With Russell we had to put pressure on them. We need to make [Nike] realize that this is something that’s important and that people will not stand for this. Ultimately, what influences their decisions is money.”

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NIKE: THE SWEATSHOPS BEHIND THE SWOOSH

May 18th, 2010
Teagan Dooley sits on his staircase with his 48 pairs of shoes. Many consumers are unaware of the labor that goes in the production of their purchases.

By Patrick Okocha, II
Published in The Clipper, Everett Community College

Nike ads are on television and billboards everywhere: what is not so apparent is the process behind the construction of Nike products.

Nike owns 31 percent of the athletic footwear market worldwide, followed by Adidas with 16 percent, according to anti-sweatshop activist Jim Keady. The company’s yearly revenue is over 19 billion and it generates profits of 1.5 billion, yet factory workers in Indonesia can barely afford noodles.

Keady spent a month in 2000 working in a footwear factory in Tangerang, Indonesia and spoke at EvCC on Feb. 2.

During his speech, Keady described the poor living conditions he endured, including sharing small bathrooms with five to ten other people in a small village. Keady became so ill during the trip that he lost 25 pounds.

“Nike is in Indonesia for one reason, cheap labor,” said Keady. “In Indonesia there are 37 contract factories with 123,000 factory workers. Those workers earn $1.25 per day. Most of the workers must work overtime just to get by.”

There is a major disparity between the athletes Nike uses in their ads and the factory workers who produce their products. “Tiger Woods makes more money in one round of golf than a Nike factory worker makes in 9.5 years,” said Keady.

The issue is not with how Nike merchandise is made, but how the workers must live.

The workers “don’t want [Nike] to pull out the jobs, (they) like to work and we are proud of what (they) do, but don’t want to be exploited,” said Keady’s partner, Leslie Kretzu, in a pre-recorded video presentation.

Teagan Dooley, an EvCC student and member of the men’s basketball team is an avid sneaker collector. He owns over 80 pairs of shoes worth around $10,000.

“You spend most of your life either sleeping or on your feet so if you are on your feet for half of your life, why not spend money for good shoes,” said Dooley. “I love Jay’s and rare shoes that no one else has.”

It costs Nike approximately $16.25 to make one pair of sneakers, which can retail for over $150 in stores, meaning Nike has made $8,700 just from Dooley.

Keady has founded an organization called Team Sweat, whose goal is to win a collective bargaining agreement against Nike which will include better wages.

Indonesia is not the only country in the world suffering social injustice, says Keady. There are over 1,000 factories with 1 million workers in 52 countries. Keady’s goal in Indonesia is to create a model for change that can expand to these other countries.

To donate or join Team Sweat, visit Keady’s web site at teamsweat.org.

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RUTGERS STUDENTS QUESTION UNIVERSITY CONTRACT WITH NIKE

May 18th, 2010

Published in MoxieToday
by Avi Scher

The Rutgers chapter of the United Students Against Sweatshops (USAS) recently delivered a letter to President McCormick demanding that Rutgers end contracts with Nike due to human rights violations at two Honduran factories the company has worked with. The factories in question, Vision Tex and Huggers de Honduras, closed in January 2009 with no prior warning and have yet to pay nearly $2 million in legally mandated severance pay to roughly 1,800 former employees.

According to Zachary Lerner, one of the leaders of the movement, this is a direct violation of the University Code of Conduct that must be addressed by the University. Lerner stated that a March 4 deadline was set for the University to make a decision before further action is taken and that McCormick plans on meeting with a delegation of students over the next couple of weeks to address their concerns.

A statement released by Nike in response to concerns at Purdue University, said that both factories were subcontracted by a Honduran contractor. It claimed that the only order for collegiate apparel from the two companies was produced by Vision Tex in 2007 and that the factory was informed in June 2008 that Nike would no longer be placing orders with them after December. The last order placed with Hugger was completed by the end of 2007.

However, the Workers Rights Consortium (WRC) – which Rutgers is a member of – claimed that despite reducing orders at the of 2006, Hugger manufactured a small but substantial amount of Nike goods until its closure and produced collegiate apparel on four occasions. Based on worker testimony and shipping invoices the WRC believes that the majority of the product lines at Vision Tex were dedicated to Nike until it closed.

A similar controversy over the source of Rutgers’ apparel occurred last year leading to the University’s decision to not renew contacts with Russell. In the Russell case, a Honduran factory was shut down when its employees attempted to form a union. USAS helped convince nearly 100 colleges across the nation to end or suspend licensing agreements which allowed for Russell to use their logos on products. Russell subsequently reopened the factory and rehired all 1,200 workers.

United Students Against Sweatshops meets Wednesday nights at 9:15 in Scott Hall 101. They can be reached at sparkachange@gmail.com.

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PURDUE UNIVERSITY ATHLETIC DIRECTOR DUPED BY NIKE ON SWEATSHOP ISSUE

May 18th, 2010

Team Sweat:

When I read the article below on the Nike-sponsored visit by university athletic directors to factories in Vietnam and China, I thought, “Is it really possible that someone running a major department at a major university could be this absolutely naive?”

The unfortunate answer is, “yes.”

Based on the article, here is a short list of questions for Purdue Athletic Director, Morgan Burke, to consider the next time Nike offers him a paid vacation to the east.

1. Did you speak to any workers off-site and with translators/advocates that they trust?
2. What are the current wages for the workers in these plants and what can those wages buy in the local marketplace?
3. Did you ask to speak with any of the THOUSANDS of workers that took part in 12 strikes at Nike factories in Vietnam this past year and find out why they did their work stoppages?
4. Did you ask the factory managers how much Nike pays on average for a pair of sneakers, what the cost breakdown is, how much is directed towards wages, and if the money Nike pays is adequate to provide a living wage?

Thanks Mr. Burke for providing Nike yet another opportunity to use Purdue’s name and reputation in their public relations scheme to mislead consumers, investors, and athletes.

Peace, Jim Keady
The Purdue University Exponent
Athletic director visits Nike factories
By Andrea Hammer
Publication Date: 02/01/2010

Purdue University AD, Morgan Burke

The Purdue athletic director spent 10 days in Vietnam and China touring factories and said he doesn’t feel he saw any “sweatshops.”

On Jan. 14, Morgan Burke left with a group of other university athletic directors on a Nike-sponsored trip to Nike’s factories in China and Vietnam. During their time, they saw five factories which Burke described as mostly “well-kept, organized and controlled.”

“In addition to actually seeing their product, you can take their corporate governance and responsibilities stuff that you can see on the Web and see how it plays out when you’re there in person,” Burke said.

Burke said several of the factories he toured employed upward of 20,000 people. He felt he was informed going into the trip because of his background in a steel company prior to his years at Purdue. Burke said all of the factories he visited in both Vietnam and China had operations that are similar to practices in the U.S. Things like company housing, on-site clinics and a grocery store for employees were not uncommon for employees of the factories.

While he was in Vietnam, he visited one factory that employed 20,000 people and produced shoes for Nike. While touring the factory, he said he used his background to look out for important safety issues.

“I looked for things like if they had hydraulic equipment – are there leaks? Are there safety guards on moving equipment? And it was all there; it was very well maintained,” he said.

At the same factory, he saw a high school where many of the workers were finishing their high school education. He explained some of the students would go to school from 8 a.m. to noon and then work the second shift from 2 p.m. to 10 p.m.

For those that aren’t familiar with licensing agreements, Burke explained that there are two agreements between Purdue and Nike; one that allows Purdue to get their uniforms for athletic teams and another that allows Nike to produce Purdue apparel that’s sold in stores like Folletts.

Burke said this trip was planned prior to the problems that have arisen in Honduras, concerning two closed factories in which workers didn’t receive about $2.1 million in severance pay. He also said he didn’t believe this was a staged trip for those attending to see only what Nike intended for them to see.

“I don’t get the sense at all that I was brought over there to just see certain things; I had too much freedom to get out in the factory and walk around for that,” he said. “I think (Nike was) pretty proud of what they’d accomplished.”

Purdue Organization for Labor Equality member Gautam Kumaraswamy, a junior in engineering education, said in an e-mail he feels Burke’s trip was a nice vacation that didn’t have much to tell on the conditions of Nike’s workers.

“The consensus among all experts is that the only credible way to investigate conditions is through independent monitoring where visits to factories are unannounced, and an environment where workers are free to speak without fear or intimidation from their employers,” Kumaraswamy wrote. “The trip, in essence, was a Nike (public relations) stunt where they were able to ‘wow’ their clients, and Morgan would not have gotten anything near the true picture.”

IS NIKE AT A “TIPPING POINT” ON CORPORATE RESPONSIBILITY?

May 18th, 2010

nike_hyperdunk_small-257x300

In the article below by Michael Connor from Business Ethics, Connor notes statements by Nike CEO, Mark Parker that are found in Nike’s 2007-2009 CSR Report.

“This report is published at a tipping point. It’s time for the world to shift… We see sustainability, both social and environmental, as a powerful path to innovation, and crucial to our growth strategies.”

My response to Mr. Parker’s statement… words, words, words. It all sounds good on paper, but what is going on in reality for factory workers in places like Indonesia is far from the slick, graphic-laden CSR report that Nike issued this year.

Of particular note to me in the report was the VERY tiny section on workers’ wages. For the top brass at Nike, the issue of wages only merited one page and a paragraph in the entire report. This is inconceivable to me, given that when one speaks directly with workers, the number one issue for them is always WAGES. This lack of content on the wage issue was particularly distressing given the fact that Caitlin Morris, Nike’s Director of Innovation and Sustainable Business, had accompanied me to Indonesia in July 2008 and heard workers share over and over and over again, that the most important issue to them was/is an increase in their wages.

Par for the course at Nike. They are far from a tipping point on social responsibility.

Peace, Jim Keady

Nike: Corporate Responsibility at a “Tipping Point”
Business Ethics
by Michael Connor

The old business maxim that “what gets measured, matters” is overused but nonetheless powerful, especially when applied to corporate responsibility: when information and metrics are combined with disclosure and transparency, corporate posturing on issues that affect society can be quickly replaced with fact-based analysis and discussion.

One current example is Nike Inc.’s newly-published Corporate Responsibility (CR) Report for fiscal years 2007 to 2009. It’s a slickly-produced multimedia display of data and information - in fact, Nike says, an independent panel of stakeholder advisers at one point concluded the volume of information contained in the 176-page written report was so “overwhelming” that it required a rewrite.

“This report is published at a tipping point. It’s time for the world to shift,” Nike CEO Mark Parker writes in the report’s introduction. “We see sustainability, both social and environmental, as a powerful path to innovation, and crucial to our growth strategies.”

That’s a huge change from the 1990’s, when Nike was a poster child for corporate villainy stemming from sweatshop labor practices in Southeast Asia factories. Since then, the company has charted a very different course in corporate citizenship and, in many important respects, has succeeded.

Grappling with Issues

This latest report places a big focus on environmental sustainability, with Nike sharing its vision of “reaching a closed-loop business model where the goal is to achieve zero waste in the supply chain and have products and materials that can be continuously reused – no pre- or post-consumer waste.”

What’s most interesting about the report, though, is that you can see Nike grappling, in public, with some tough choices. The narrative demonstrates what can happen when a company begins reporting regularly and in-depth, and with an apparent commitment to intellectual honesty, about core issues.

For Nike, labor and human rights continue as a top priority and corporate worry. The company’s three main product lines — footwear, apparel and equipment — are made in approximately 600 contract factories that employ more than 800,000 workers in 46 countries around the world. Nearly 60 percent of the work force is in North Asia, 31 percent in South Asia. One major difficulty is that contract apparel factories generally produce for multiple brands, making it a difficult to maintain standards.

To listen to Nike, monitoring those contract factories for working conditions, wages and overtime – and a host of other issues, including possible unionization – is not easy. “While we can point to many examples of improvements, challenging issues remain for our company and our industry in systemically identifying and tackling how to affect long-term system-wide change,” the company says.

“In evaluating where our targets fell short, we saw a consistent pattern: a focus on auditing against a set of criteria sometimes results in on-the-ground improvements for workers, but it rarely produces systemic change in the area of concern,” Nike says. “On further reflection, we realized that, if we want to make sustainable improvements for workers, we need to significantly change the way we engage and interact with our supply chain as a whole.”

One potential solution, Nike reports, is collaborating with other brands on factory audits and, maybe more importantly, working with competitors on developing remedies for labor problems as well as standardized codes. And then there are improvements that can be made by Nike alone. Example: “Asking factories to manufacture too many styles is one of the highest contributors to factory overtime in apparel. We have an opportunity to reduce this pressure by reducing the number of apparel styles and partnering with the factories to improve efficiencies through lean production methods.”

Increased Reporting

There’s more detail in the Nike report than most any layman could digest and understand, and Nike critics – such as Oxfam’s Nike Watch, and a new activist initiative, TeamSweat – are likely to find weaknesses. That’s as it should be. No one should be satisfied simply because the company has issued a report, even one chock-a-block with narrative, charts and bar graphs.

Some critics of corporate responsibility reports believe they can’t help but be self-serving. And, in fact, more companies are reporting. Sixty-six of the S&P 100 firms produced a formal sustainability report with performance data in 2008, a 35 percent jump from the 49 reports produced in 2007, according to a report from the Sustainable Investment Research Analyst Network (SIRAN), a working group of the Social Investment Forum (SIF). However, the SIRAN survey found that only six S&P 100 firms publish complete sustainability reports that meet the highest “A” level reporting standard set by the Global Reporting Initiative.

In the end, it’s difficult to see how more reporting can’t help, as long as it’s done well. Nike’s latest effort is a good example of how the process can lead to data being gathered, metrics developed and performance benchmarks set. The process grew out of Nike’s public floggings in the 1990s, says CEO Parker, when “we learned to view transparency as an asset, not a risk.”

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CHICAGO UNIVERSITIES PROTEST FOR WORKERS’ RIGHTS AT NIKETOWN

May 18th, 2010

NIKE OWES WORKERS
By Chris Zois
Roosevelt University Torch
April 19, 2010

Students protest out Niketown in Chicago

Students protest out Niketown in Chicago

Roosevelt students protested outside of Nike Town, a retail Nike store, on April 14 as part of United Students against Sweatshops “Just Pay It” campaign.

After the protest two Honduras garment workers, who have worked at Nike factories, spoke in Fainman Lounge later that day.

The protest was just one of the events the USAS has set up in order to get equal working conditions for Nike factory workers.

The event centered around the closing of two Honduras factories in early 2009. The workers are still owed back wages and legally mandated severance pay of $2.2 million.

In a press release from the university about the event it is reported that “Nike spent $3.4 Billion Dollars on endorsements in 2008. That means the money owed to workers in Honduras is less than .1[percent] of Nike’s annual endorsement commitments.”

Along with Roosevelt students, the protest also had students from DePaul University, Northwestern University and the University of Chicago.

Brian Brown, senior, said this event came together after they had met with members of the USAS.

“We had been organizing here [at Roosevelt] but it wasn’t until we talked to a member of the USAS that we started to look at the broader campaign as well,” Brown said.

Two Honduras garment workers, Gina Cano and Lowlee Urquia, held a discussion with students, discussing their experience for working for Nike factories following the protest.

Rod Palmquist, a member of USAS, said he, other members of USAS, Cano and Urquia are currently on a tour giving lectures to schools associated the “Just Pay It” campaign.

“We are going around to universities that are involved with our cause,” Palmquist said. “We want to show people that the working conditions need to be fair and the actions of Nike affect more than just the workers.”

According to the press release about the event, “The two factories, Hugger de Honduras and Vision Tex were shut down without notice in 2009. The Workers Rights Consortium (WRC) released a report exposing Nike’s hypocrisy in addressing the issue.”

Neither Cano nor Uquia speak English so their responses were translated for the audience.

Uquia said their pay was docked for health care and other amenities; however, he never received such benefits.

Both women said they have fellow co-workers who have passed away because they did not receive proper medical treatment.

Uquia said the factories’ closing has affected more than just the workers.

“These closings have affected our families and other factory workers families,” Cano said. “We got 26.5 percent of our severance but that is still not enough.”

Uquia said she had to take her children out of school because she could not afford to keep them there.

Palmquist said that these tours are geared to educate universities on the harsh conditions of the factories.

Palmquist said the University of Wisconsin-Madison has canceled its contract with Nike because of the factory’s working conditions.

The university is currently considering being affiliated with the WRC.

Brown said the university has talked to members of the WRC and Barnes & Noble in hopes of establishing a partnership.

UW-MADISON ENDS NIKE CONTRACT AMID LABOR CONCERNS

April 12th, 2010

6122ff1e-43f3-11df-9b63-001cc4c03286preview-300
The Cap Times
Todd Finkelmeyer| The Capital Times | Posted: Friday, April 9, 2010

The University of Wisconsin-Madison is ending its apparel contract with Nike Inc., becoming the first school to cut ties with the world’s leading supplier of athletic shoes and apparel due to alleged labor rights abuses at two factories overseas.

University officials announced their decision Friday afternoon at a meeting of the Labor Licensing Policy Committee at Bascom Hall. Nike pays UW-Madison nearly $50,000 per year for the right to use the university’s name or marks — such as Bucky Badger or the “motion W” — on apparel it makes.

“Nike has not developed, and does not intend to develop, meaningful ways of addressing the plight of displaced workers and their families in Honduras,” UW-Madison Chancellor Biddy Martin said in a statement. “It has not presented clear long-range plans to prevent or respond to similar problems in the future. For this combination of reasons, we have decided to end our relationship for now.”

The university will let its contract with Nike lapse when the current deal expires at the end of June.

“We always encourage people to do better and to remediate the situation,” said Dawn Crim, a special assistant to the chancellor for community relations who closely follows sweatshop issues. “And if that’s done, we’ll talk with Nike again.”

A Nike spokesperson was contacted for this article, but did not comment.

The Worker Rights Consortium reported in October that two factories that produce collegiate apparel for Nike in Honduras — Vision Tex and Hugger de Honduras — were shuttered early in 2009 without paying legally mandated severance and back pay to some 1,800 workers. The amount owed is about $2.2 million.

Considering people at those factories made roughly $40 per week, the average worker is owed about 30 weeks worth of pay.

“I would say to Nike just do it — just pay them the $2.2 million they owe the workers,” said Jane Collins, a UW-Madison professor of community and environmental sociology, and author of the 2003 book, “Threads: Gender, Labor and Power in the Global Apparel Industry.” Collins also is a member of the university’s Labor Licensing Policy Committee, which is an advisory group that keeps tabs on companies that produce apparel with the UW logo.

Although Nike did not own the factories that closed, as a licensee of UW-Madison apparel the company must follow a university code of conduct for producers. That code, among other things, states companies must pay these legally mandated wages and other benefits.

The factory owners also are accused of not paying into Honduras’ national health care system and keeping the deductions that were taken out of workers’ checks.

The Worker Rights Consortium, which reported the Nike violations, is an organization which was started in April of 2000 by university administrators, labor rights experts and student activists to keep an eye on those who produce college-logoed apparel. The WRC — now with more than 170 university affiliates, including UW-Madison — is funded with membership fees from institutions.

UW-Madison’s Labor Licensing Policy Committee first voted to ask Martin to cut ties with Nike back in December. But the committee’s vote was strictly advisory, and at the time Martin felt it would be wise to give the company 120 days to clear up these issues. But that deadline passed Thursday and it had become clear to university officials that Nike had no plans to remedy the situation.

Ultimately, UW-Madison leaders said they had no choice but to end the contract.

Two workers from Honduras who lost their jobs when those factories were shuttered took place in a conference call with UW-Madison’s LLPC Friday and became very excited and emotional when told the university was ending its contract with Nike.

Whether or not other institutions follow UW-Madison’s lead remains to be seen.
“That’s why it’s important that we continue to reach out to other universities,” said sophomore Jonah Zinn, a member of the Student Labor Action Coalition — which is UW-Madison’s affiliate of United Students Against Sweatshops. “There are student movements going on at about 20 other universities and the goal is to pick up the momentum. But in order to get that momentum going, it’s important to take that first step — and it’s a huge deal that UW-Madison was the first university to cut the contract. We won’t be the last, for sure.”

Previously, the university and student activists on campus played a key role in persuading Russell Athletic — one of the nation’s leading sportswear companies — on Nov. 17 to rehire 1,200 workers in Honduras who had lost their jobs when Russell shuttered its factory shortly after workers unionized. In that instance, UW-Madison was one of nearly 100 colleges and universities which ended apparel deals with Russell — forcing the company to change its ways if it wanted to get back into the profitable collegiate apparel-making business.

“The real difference here is that with the Russell contract, there were many, many other universities joining with us,” said Collins. “And here, we are kind of out here on our own. But as you could hear, the workers were crying when they heard the news because they were so moved. So even though we are a small proportion of what Nike produces, I do think this will get Nike’s attention. Even if no other schools join us, the publicity of Wisconsin doing this will matter.”

THOUSANDS OF NIKE WORKERS STRIKE IN VIETNAM FOR HIGHER PAY

April 5th, 2010

nike-factory-vietnam

Sat, Apr 3 2010

HANOI, April 3 (Reuters) - Thousands of workers went on strike on Friday at a Taiwanese-owned shoe factory in southern Vietnam, demanding better pay and benefits, state-run newspapers reported.

Some hurled shrimp paste sauce and splashed pig’s blood on workers who were not participating in the strike at the Pou Chen Group factory in Dong Nai province, the website of the newspaper Nguoi Lao Dong reported (www.nld.com.vn).

Another newspaper, Tuoi Tre, said the manager of the factory agreed to increase pay by 5 percent but the workers did not immediately return to work, it reported on its website (www.tuoitre.com.vn). It said more than 10,000 workers had walked out.

Pou Chen’s website (www.pouchen.com.tw) lists two facilities in Dong Nai, adjacent to Ho Chi Minh City, which it says produce footwear for Nike.

Photos on Tuoi Tre’s website showed several hundred people standing outside what appeared to be a factory, although the location was not clear.

Workers said the factory provided meals worth only 4,000 dong ($0.21) each, which did not contain enough energy, and they were seeking better meals, Tuoi Tre reported.

A state newspaper in January quoted a planning ministry official as saying tough economic conditions this year could lead to more strikes.

Strikes have happened periodically in factories in Vietnam because of working conditions, and often involving foreign-invested companies.

($1=19,060 dong)

(Reporting by John Ruwitch; Editing by Sanjeev Miglani

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STUDENTS AT RUTGERS UNIVERSITY TELL NIKE TO “JUST PAY IT”

March 26th, 2010

rutgers

Stand for human rights, tell Nike to just pay it
By Nick West

Published: Thursday, March 4, 2010

Nike, Inc., a sportswear giant with much of the American retail market cornered, has annual revenue of around $18 billion. Why is it, then, that they are having so much trouble paying the $2.2 million in severance owed to laid-off factory workers in Honduras?

On Jan. 19, 2009, two Nike factories, Hugger de Honduras and Vision Tex, were closed, with severance agreements between the workers’ unions and factory owners signed after the factory closures. It is 2010, still no severance has been paid, and when hounded over their exploitation of workers, Nike released a statement that they are “deeply concerned,” but cannot assume any responsibility for the actions of their “subcontractors.” Subcontractors, in this case, are proxies used by Nike to distance themselves from taking responsibility for the way their factory workers are treated.

Blaming human rights abuses on “subcontractors” is how Nike argues that it is not in violation of the code of conduct it is contractually obligated to follow. This excuse does not remove Nike from the their responsibility to the Honduran workers manufacturing their college apparel. In November 2009, Nike stated, “efforts to remediate this case are not yet concluded.” Workers are still waiting as of February 2010 for the $2.2 million owed to them. Without this, they will continue to be unable to support their families.

It is time for more pressure to be placed on Nike, and here at our University, the Rutgers chapter of United Students Against Sweatshops will be organizing an event outside of Brower Commons on College Avenue campus Thursday March 4 starting at 11 a.m. This event’s goal is to raise student awareness to Nike’s human rights abuses and to get involved in pressuring Nike to correct their breach of the code of conduct set forth in their contract with the University. There will be games, prizes and information for anyone who wants to get involved. Tell Nike to Just Pay It.

Nick West is a School of Arts and Sciences junior.

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STUDENTS AT CORNELL “WORK OUT” FOR NIKE WORKERS’ RIGHTS

March 26th, 2010

THE CORNELL DAILY SUN
New Committee Will Examine Social Impact of Univ. Licensing
March 11, 2010 - 4:38am
By Juan Forrer

Cornell students "work out" for workers' rights
Cornell students “work out for workers’ rights.”

After pressure from Cornell’s chapter of Students Against Sweatshops, the University has established a permanent licensing committee — which will meet for the first time next week — in the hopes of improving working conditions for employees at companies that supply the University with products and apparel.

Yesterday, CSAS held a “Workout for Workers Rights” demonstration in front of Olin Library to further raise awareness of the plight of Nike employees in Honduras and the University’s contract with Nike.

The workers, who are reportedly owed 2.1 million dollars by a subcontractor working for Nike, are at the center of a national movement pressuring Nike to pay the money. The University’s new licensing committee, meanwhile, is set to begin considering licensing issues for companies accused of workers’ rights violations. “

The job of the committee is to make very careful, measured recommendations to the University,” said Mike Powers, vice president of university communications and a member of the licensing committee. “On a larger sc
Working hard: Casey Sweeney ’13, Marlena Fontes ’10 and Bill Peterson ’10, members of Cornell Students Against Sweatshops, “work out for workers’ rights” outside Olin Library yesterday. - By: Meghan Hess
ale, this will involve the efforts of many universities working together. Together, we can solve the problem of workers’ rights violations.” Powers is one of nine members who will sit on the committee.

Other members include students in labor rights groups on campus, a representative from the Cornell Store, and a representative from the Athletics department. On the agenda for next week’s meeting is a discussion of the relicensing of Russell Athletics.

Cornell was one of 120 universities to suspend product licenses for the company after Russell closed factories in Honduras that had unionized. Since then, Russell has reopened the factories and recognized the union.

“Russell has done a complete turn around,” Powers said. “They’ve done what we asked them to do, and I think we need to give the license back.” The Russell Athletics issue was resolved with an ad-hoc committee created for that specific situation. Now, the permanent committee will periodically hear reports from the Workers Rights Consortium and the Collegiate Licensing Program, national organizations that Cornell participates in, on the status of 150 different companies that supply Cornell products.

One of the issues that CSAS hopes to bring to the attention of the new committee is the status of Cornell’s license with Nike. CSAS says Honduran factories that supply Nike are refusing to pay employees severance and wages for hours already worked. The group’s campaign is part of a national movement against Nike for the company’s stance toward workers. Prof. Lance Compa, industrial and labor relations, said that student groups can exert a lot of leverage on Nike to change their practices.

If Cornell and other universities were to cancel the license, it could mean financial losses for Nike. “Selling universities clothes makes these companies millions of dollars a year,” Compa said. “That’s what makes them care.” Alex Bores ’13, president of CSAS and a representative on the new committee, said that the fight against Nike is going to be more challenging than the fight against Russell Athletics because Nike does not own the factories that supply it with apparel.

“They sell, they advertise … but they don’t make clothes,” Bores said. Though the subcontractors owe the workers a reported 2.1 million dollars, the national movement’s slogan explicates their goal to make Nike “Just Pay It.” The sum is relatively small for Nike, but the company does not want to set a precedent by taking responsibility for the workers employed by its subcontractors, Bores says. CSAS held its “Workout for Workers Rights” event yesterday, in which students exercised publicly to increase awareness of the issue.

Casey Sweeney ’13, president of Cornell Organization for Labor Action, said she didn’t have to walk around distributing quarter cards. Students were coming up to her and asking her for them. “It’s nice to have an event where students are interested and want to know what’s going on,” she said. CSAS also staged a “teach-in” in Ives Hall, where professors and group leaders gave speeches about the Nike issue.

Prof. Sarosh Kuruvilla, industrial and labor relations, encouraged students to get involved.

He said the pressure that forces companies to change comes from small groups of students, just two to three percent of students. “All of this pressure is coming from a small percentage of students in the U.S.,” he said. “Idealism is often left in college.”

Colleen Brill ’12 was one of the people who attended the teach-in. Though she said she might not have come without the reward of extra credit, she said she enjoyed the event and wants to learn more about the issue. She joined the CSAS listserv, something that was not required to earn the extra points. “I want to be kept up to date,” she said. “ I think this is an issue that’s going to grow at Cornell in the next couple months.”

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PRESIDENT OF ST. JOSEPH’S UNIVERSITY REQUESTS WAGE DISCLOSURE FROM NIKE

March 26th, 2010

frlannon
Fr. Timothy Lannon, SJ
President, St. Joseph’s University

Team Sweat:

We had a very important development this week in our fight to get Nike to disclose workers’ wages rates at all their overseas plants. Fr. Timothy Lannon, SJ, the President of St. Joseph’s University in Philadelphia, has made a formal request to Nike for this information. I have included the sample letter that I provided Fr. Lannon below. If you would like to ask the President or Principal of your school to send a similar letter, send me an email at jim@educatingforjustice.org and I will send you a complete package of information.

On a personal note, as an alumnus of St. Joseph’s University, I am overwhelmed with joy that the President of my alma mater took this action. GO HAWKS!

We will win this fight people!

Peace, Jim Keady

SAMPLE LETTER TO NIKE CEO, MARK PARKER

Mr. Parker,

I am writing with regard to the recent letter that Jim Keady sent you requesting that Nike publicly disclose the wage rates for all of your overseas factories. Given the relationship that our Catholic, Jesuit University has with your company via our Men’s and Women’s Basketball teams, I too would like to have this information publicly disclosed. The issue of workers’ wages is central to Catholic Social Teaching and is of primary importance as our university evaluates our current and any future relationship we may have with your company.

Your Chairman, Phil Knight, made a public claim that workers producing your products are “absolutely” paid a living wage, “no question about it.” We would like to have the raw data made available to us so that we can evaluate the situation for ourselves.

I appreciate a timely response to this letter and I thank you in advance for your cooperation.
###

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SEATTLE PREP PANTHERS POUND NIKE’S CEO ON SWEATSHOP ABUSES

March 10th, 2010
Team Sweat:

Not to be outdone by the lads at Brophy College Prep, the students at Seattle Prep fired off their missives to Nike’s CEO, Mark Parker after they experienced the “Behind the Swoosh: Sweatshops and Social Justice” program. They let Mr. Parker know that the men and women at Seattle Prep are, like their peers at Brophy, “men and women for others” and their Jesuit education demands that they act on behalf of justice - in this case, on behalf of their brothers and sisters in Nike’s overseas sweatshops.

Go Panthers!

Peace, Jim Keady

Mr. Parker,

My name is Jordan Alcantara and I am a senior at Seattle Preparatory School. Today, our school held its annual Peace and Justice Assembly and focused on the Nike sweatshop worker exploitation and Team Sweat. Our guest speaker, Mr. Jim Keady, educated us on the current injustices occurring around the world, and enlightened me and many of my fellow classmates on the current system we allow to persist. I come to you as a concerned high school student, with a simple hope. Please change the current policies to create a more just system. I fully recognize that many changes have already taken place and some conditions have already been improved. But there is still a long way to go. My education at a Catholic Jesuit institution has driven me to say somethingabout this andtry to make a change. I recognize that as a woman for others, it’s part of my responsibility to help promote change in any way that I can.I ask, as a student, a Catholic, and a person of this world, please do something to change the current injustice.

I thank you greatly for your time.

Sincerely,
Jordan Alcantara

Jim Keady visited my school at Seattle Prep today. I was dumbfounded by the way Nike has so little concern for their workers. HOW can a company this large, who is so much in the public eye, get away with something like this? Because they have not spoken the truth. Therefore, it is up to us to spread the truth about Nike. I noticed that it is hard for many people to put themselves in other peoples shoes, but it is something we all must do in order to change this system. We must fight for out brothers and sisters in Nike sweatshops around the world. We must fight so that hopefully one day Nike will pay them enough wages in order to meet their basic needs. It begins with advocacy, and it begins with you and me. Thank you for coming to our school, and thank you for all of the work you have done thus far. I am joining because I too share in your dream that one day our world can be sweat free.

- Cassie Padon

Mr. Parker,

Today Jim came and talked to my high school, Seattle Prep. Don’t get me wrong, i absolutely love your product and have supported you my whole life. My high school is sponsored by you, as well is my AAU basketball team. All of my shoes are from your company, and I cant do anything to stop wearing your shoes, because they are simply the best on the market, and it is a team requirement for my AAU team to wear all Nike products, but I do assure you I will no longer show the Nike symbol on the socks, rather roll them down, I will now cover the swoosh on my shoes, and show as little emblems of Nike as possible. What you do with your sweat shops, and beyond minimum wage revenue for your workers is something you should be ashamed of. How would you like if your family had to suffer through what they do? Yes you are giving them jobs, thats great, congratulations, but think of being in their shoes! Would you want to barely have enough money to just feed YOU for the day! Let alone your significant other, your kids? What about that fancy house im sure you live in, or that 100,000 dollar wip you roll around in? How about all those fun trips you go on since your so wealty? How would you like it if that was all a fantasy? All some wonderland because you dont have enough money to buy any mode of transportation, live in anything but a box? Your workers are being put through a real life hell, that whole period check for women? If that happened at my school my parents would file a law suit! Jim said that had been cleared up but you should be ashamed for that! I really hope for you sake, the sake of the people your hurting, and the sake of the world and every single person who looks up to your company and the stars you endorse who i hope to be one day, i hope that you and Nike straighten up your act and fix the sweatshops. You make 19.2 BILLION dollars a year, and a pair of air force 1’s, one of your best selling shoes, cost less than 15 dollars to make! And you sell it for what, 100 dollars? And on top of that you only give 2.50 to your labor workers? What would you do if they go on strike? I know i would if i was in their shoes! “Success is simple, do whats right, the right way, all the time.” Yes you are being succesful, but not the right way.

- From a Seattle Prep Student

Dear Mr. Parker,

You may not know it, but the factory conditions in Indonesia are absolutely atrocious and inhumane. Also, workers can’t support their families on the wages that they are payed by Nike. This could be drastically fixed by doubling the labor cost per shoe and adding that same amount to your bill, because I for one would be more than happy to pay an extra $2.43 for my pair of Nike Blazers in order for the Indonesian worker that made my shoe to be able to support their family.

I love Nike and I love buying products from Nike and Nike is doing wonderful things in the world of sports. However, I want to feel good about purchasing your product. I don’t want to feel like I am endorsing inhumane working conditions. Please, help me feel good about myself when I purchase Nike apparel and shoes.

Thank You for your time Mr. Parker.

Sincerely,

Cameron Breen
Junior at Seattle Prep

Dear Mr. Parker,

Do you sometimes wake up late at night wondering that if you ever double the wages of workers in countries like Indonesia that they would no longer be exploited by your sweatshops?Have you ever wondered ifdoing good and doing well are not mutually exclusive? Maybe if you spent a day in the life of one of the workers that your company takes complete advantage of, you would become a more compassionate human being and more aware of the circumstances that impoverished people face every day because of people like you.

I write to you today on behalf of all the workers that are silenced in the sweatshops. Today Jim Keady came and spoke to our school about how terribly the workers in Indonesia are treated. Did you even know that in the sweatshops in Indonesia the workers are working in horrendous conditions that are oppressive and unhealthy, and that up to 50% of them are abused? If you have any human feelings inside of you, try make a conscious effort to double the wages of the people that work so hard and so long every day just to barely get by. I am embarrassed to own anything Nike. Good job, Mr. Parker, you’re a terrible person. I am appalled that you are satisfied with selling these products while people suffer because of it, andI personally will work with a conscious effort to spread the word about your company and to avoid buying any of your products until significant changes are made.

Sincerely,
Emma McCune
Student at Seattle Preparatory High School

Mark Parker
President and Chief Executive Officer of Nike Corporation
Nike World Headquarters
One Bowerman Drive
Beaverton, OR 97005

Dear Mr. Parker,

You have probably already received many of these emails today from a number of my classmates and fellow advocates for workers’ rights. I would like to join the fray and voice my opinion to once again encourage you, emplore you to change your labor policies regarding the workers in your factories abroad. It is not only the moral and ethical decision, one of the best you will ever make, but also more important than ever to help the factory workers survive during these trying economic times. The goal of your company should certainly be to make a profit, but not at the expense of the human dignities of others.

If you were to change your mind in the near future regarding this important issue of unjust labor situations in your factories, you should immediately consider contacting Jim Keady at info@teamsweat.org, and visiting teamsweat.org. You will find resources there that will help you make the right, ethical decision. Hopefully the pressure we the students, the next generation of consumers, place on your corporation can lead to progress and positive change.

Thank you for considering our proposition and hopefully in time we can once again buy Nike products, confident that the workers who manufactured the goods were treated and paid justly.

Nicholas Wang
Student at Seattle Preparatory School
2400 Eleventh Avenue East
Seattle WA 98102

Hello Mr. Parker:

My name is Nicole Zunick and I am a sophomore at Seattle Prep in Seattle, WA. I both wear your products (I am a runner) and am aware of what is going on in the factories that manufacture your products. It would be very beneficial and educational for me if you could help me understand your situation.

First of all, I understand you are a company in a capitalist economy, which means you are working for the greatest possible profit for the corporation owners; not the consumers, workers, etc. I also understand that there are moral expectations and norms in our society today. There are also many laws and regulations worldwide that have to do with this.
My biggest concern is whether or not Nike is responsible for the workers, workers’ wages, safety, etc. that are part of the sub-contractors that Nike has. If so, you have not only a moral obligation to make sure all aspects of the work space and environment are meeting laws, regulations, and requirements, but also a legal obligation. If you do not (or claim to not) be responsible for the workers that the sub-contractors employ, you still have certain obligations. First: you are expected to use companies and organizations that protect the rights of workers and human beings, as well as follow all international or national laws. (You can’t just say that you weren’t aware of the sub-contractors’ actions). Second: you, as a human being, are supposed to treat fellow human beings with respect, dignity, and fairness. Don’t say you are treating the workers from sweatshops the correct way - there are statistics from both your own investigations as well as separate investigations that show this is not true.

Even if you do not have the time to reply to this email or choose not to for whatever reasons, I would ask you to do one thing. Tonight before you go to bed, imagine what your life would be like if you made about three dollars less everyday. Would you still have been able to afford three healthy meals? Have clothes to wear? Talk on your phone? Check your email? Have your kids go to school? Those three dollars wouldn’t make a big difference in your life. However, it could be life altering for the sweatshop workers. I’m not suggesting that those three dollars has to come out of your paycheck, or that all of a sudden the workers’ wages will double and life will be splendid and perfect. However, this should help you put into perspective what those workers’ wages and lives are like. You have the same responsibilities to those workers as all the kids at my high school. We all need to make changes to help those less fortunate than us - instead of taking advantage of them, let’s help create and instill positive changes in their lives.

I hope that you realize that you and your company have a huge influence on today’s world. This can allow for great changes through power that are positive, unimportant, or negative. Its up to you to choose - but remember that your company is nothing without all those who use, consume, and endorse your products, as well as those who design, manufacture, and create your products.

Sincerely,
Nicole Zunick

Dear Mr. Parker,

I am currently a freshman student at Seattle Preparatory School. I recently was enlightened by Jim Keady of the labor issues that are going on right now in Indonesia and many other places around the world. When I was exposed to those facts and that information it made me sick to know that several other human beings were exposed to this same information and did absolutely nothing about it. They not only did nothing about it but they strictly denied every bit of it to protect their multi-BILLION dollar institution. Now I just think it’s funny that a freshman in high school is able to see that that is wrong and a middle aged man (no offense) cannot. Don’t you?

Sincerely,
Riley Mang.

PS: I challenge you to living for one week in those laborers shoes and see what it is like. I will by five pairs of air force ones every month if you come back from that week happier and more confident than before that Nike is right.

PPS: Please respond to this email, I am truly interested and open to anything you want to say.

Mr. Parker,

As an athlete, I have worn Nike products for years and thought nothing of it. Your company fulfills a need that must be met, however, my objection is to how you have gone about meeting that need. I have to say that I am sincerely embarrassed to be wearing and endorsing Nike as a high level athlete, in light of what I have learned today about your labor practices in foreign countries. As a human being I feel that the wages and conditions under which your merchandise is being made are morally and ethically wrong. That being said, I honestly think that change can be made. With the amount of influence Nike has in the global market, I can potentially see your company as being a leader in the movement toward “sweat free” clothing. Eventually, this change will come. The seeds have been sown, all that is needed now is a push to get the ball rolling. Who better to give this push then yourself? Please consider what I and my peers have said, and let me know what you think.

Thank you for your time,
- Michael Rochford

P.S I thought I should let you know that Mr. Keady came to my school to talk today, and is a large part of why I wrote this email. I realize that I may not have heard what you have to say in response to Mr. Keady, and if there is anything relevant that I may have been mislead on, please let me know.

Mark,

Jim came and talked to my school Seattle Prep. What the heck man.

- Matt Crawford

Mr. Parker,

This week, Jim came and talked to my school about Nike and it’s sweatshops. I was thoroughly shocked. I am a fan of Nike and I was really outright disgusted. That’s right. Disgusted. I am disgusted to wear Nike. I am disgusted to walk down streets and see Nike. But really, it is not only Nike. Jim also taught me that almost all clothing is made from sweat shops. So really, I am disgusted with all of it. But I am emailing you, Mr. Parker, because Nike is the leader of all these clothing brands. Nike is the leader, the trendsetter, the gotoguy. If Nike makes one step forward, all the other companies follow in suit.

Do you realize you have power over so many peoples lives?
Indonesia. China. Vietnam. The workers who suffer and starve because of your companies selfishness.

What are you trying to imply here?
That Tiger Woods is worth about a million sweat shop workers?

You spend millions and millions on advertising and athletes, yet you cannot even raise workers pay by a mere two dollars for them to have a little more to EAT.

* I bet you enjoy a nice hot breakfast, just like I do. Well, the laborers can’t even afford it.
* I bet you enjoy a nice big warm house with a wife and kids who are well fed and happy with the money you make. The laborers go hungry and have to watch their kids starve, too. As a parent, you should know that pain.
* I bet you have a huge bed to sleep in and don’t even consider that the bed you are lying in is there because of the people who labor to make your products at Nike. They sleep in cement boxes.
* I bet you enjoy a flat screen TV with cable and leather couches. A nice car. Living the American dream.

Well guess what.

So many people suffer to give you your everyday comforts.
I hope you live with that guilt eating away at you forever.
I am going to send you this email everyday. I know you get these because of what you said to Jim. I sincerely hope you read this and reflect on your work.

-Krissy Cha, Student of Seattle Prep School

Mr. Parker,

I recently saw the presentation done by Mr. Jim Keady. I was appalled at the injustice in the Nike sweatshops. I am reaching out to you because I know that you have the power to make a change with this issue.

Thank you for your consideration,
Andrea Pappas
Seattle, WA

STUDENTS AT BROPHY COLLEGE PREP SPEAKING OUT ABOUT NIKE’S SWEATSHOP ABUSES (VIDEO)

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Posted in Consumers

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February 19th, 2010

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Posted in FAQ

MARIA SHARAPOVA NETS $70,000,000.00 NIKE DEAL - NIKE WORKERS GET NOTHING

January 12th, 2010

Team Sweat:

Check out the article below about the 8-year endorsement deal Maria Sharapova just extended with Nike. She get’s $70,000,000.00 and the factory workers that make the gear that she wears and promotes continue to live in poverty.

You can contact Ms. Sharapova on Facebook by clicking TELL MARIA TO SUPPORT NIKE’S WORKERS. Just become a fan of her page and start posting.

Peace, Jim Keady

Sharapova nets $75m Nike deal
The Sydney Morning Herald
January 12, 2010

Sharapova is "Just Doing It" with Nike

Former Wimbledon champion Maria Sharapova extended her sponsorship agreement with Nike by eight years for $US70 million ($75 million), just days before the start of the Australian Open.

The deal takes effect this month said a person with knowledge of the contract and includes a line of dresses designed by the former top-ranked tennis player.

The 22-year-old will also get a percentage of sales, said the source who asked not to be identified because the terms are private. Nike spokesman Derek Kent declined to comment.

Nike is the world’s largest athletic-shoe maker, and has worked with the Russian for 11 years. Since winning Wimbledon in 2004 at the age of 17, Sharapova has become one of the biggest draws on the WTA Tour and the world’s best-paid female athlete. She has also won the Australian and US Opens.

”Sharapova is one of those stars whose name transcends sports, similar to David Beckham,” said Stefan Szymanski, an economics professor at the Cass Business School in London. ”She’s become an international celebrity first, and an athlete second.”

Sharapova is the fourth favourite to win the Australian Open, which starts on Monday. Kim Clijsters and Serena Williams are co-favourites at 3-1, ahead of Justine Henin at 4-1, said British bookmaker Ladbrokes. Sharapova is 8-1, the gambling site said.

Sharapova makes close to $US22 million a year in prize money and from endorsing companies including Tiffany & Co, Sony Ericsson and Canon, Sports Illustrated has reported. She was the only woman in the magazine’s July list of the top 20 highest-earning non-US athletes.

Nike ‘family’

”She’s very happy to stay with Nike, to stay with the family she’s been with since she was 11,” Max Eisenbud, Sharapova’s agent at IMG Tennis, said in a telephone interview from Coral Gables, Florida.

Venus Williams extended an agreement with Reebok in 2000 that the clothing maker said at the time was ”the most lucrative for a female athlete”. The five-year contract was worth about $US45 million, the player’s family attorney said at the time.

Sharapova, who has nine sponsors, might drop some endorsements in favour of agreements that give her a percentage of sales, Eisenbud said in an interview in September.

”She has wealth,” Eisenbud said at the US Open in New York. ”She wants to focus on deals where she has equity, where she helps designing, gets a percentage of the sales.”

Sharapova already had an equity agreement in place with Cole Haan, a wholly owned Nike subsidiary and US clothing, shoe, handbag and accessory designer.

Shoulder injury

The extension of the Nike deal comes less than a year after Sharapova returned from a right-shoulder injury that sidelined her for nine months and forced her to undergo surgery.

The injury led her to miss the 2008 Beijing Olympics, the 2008 US Open and the 2009 Australian Open. Ranked outside the top 100, Sharapova returned to the WTA Tour in May.

She made the quarter-finals of the French Open - the only major she has yet to win - and then lost early at both Wimbledon and the US Open. Her play improved late in the year, when she won her 20th Tour title in Tokyo and ended the season ranked No. 14.

Bloomberg News

WHILE UW PREZ REBUKES NIKE, FACULTY ASKS PROVOST PHYLLIS WISE TO STEP DOWN FROM COMPANY’S BOARD

January 12th, 2010

By Nina Shapiro in Business, Education
Seattle Weekly
Tuesday, Jan. 5 2010

UW Provost, Phyllis Wise

UW Provost, Phyllis Wise

It’s clearer than ever that University of Washington Provost Phyllis Wise stepped into a minefield when she accepted a seat on Nike’s board of directors.

The faculty association yesterday issued a statement calling on Wise to give the position up. Although individual professors had previously griped about the Nike affiliation, which pays up to $200,000 a year, this is the first time the faculty has formally objected to it.

Meanwhile UW President Mark Emmert has written to Nike warning that the company’s relationship with the school–which includes a $35 million contract that makes Nike the exclusive supplier of Husky sportswear–is at risk.

Much of the controversy surrounds treatment of workers at two Nike factories in Honduras run by subcontractors. According to Emmert’s letter, the factories closed after they were unionized, and workers were denied severance pay.

In a statement by the UW branch of the American Association of University Professors (AAUP), faculty say that Wise’s presence on the Nike board creates a conflict of interest, given the university’s efforts to ensure that its sweatshirts and other apparel conform to fair labor practices.

The faculty group also claims that Wise’s Nike connection undermines academic freedom by discouraging faculty from speaking out about Nike’s labor practices. “It may not be Provost Wise’s intention to silence criticism from labor experts,” the statement acknowledges. “But when faculty report to a provost who is on Nike’s payroll, institutional incentives favor tolerance for sweatshop abuses.”

Emmert is seemingly trying to show that no such tolerance exists in his letter to Nike (see pdf), which he wrote right before Christmas. Much of the letter is fairly tame, asking for the company’s “perspective” on the Honduran situation and “information on the remediation” due workers there. It stops short of putting the company on “notice” for labor violations, as recommended by his faculty and student Advisory Committee on Trademarks and Licensing.

However, he ends by saying that “a continued relationship between the University of Washington and Nike is very much contingent on your appropriate resolution of this matter.”

Because of this implied threat, Margaret Levi, a political science professor who co-chairs the advisory committee, calls it “a very strong letter.” The question is whether the university will follow through on this threat–despite Wise’s foot in both camps.

Nike spokesperson Kate Meyers says the company is in “close consultation” with the university. In an e-mail sent to the Weekly through a university spokesperson, Wise avoids responding directly to the AAUP’s complaints but says that university leaders can serve on corporate boards in “ethically responsible ways.”

AAUP CHAPTER CALLS FOR UW PROVOST TO RESIGN FROM NIKE BOARD

January 12th, 2010

By Pete Jackson
Originally published at crosscut.com

UW Provost, Phyllis Wise

UW Provost, Phyllis Wise

The saga over University of Washington Provost Phyllis Wise’s November 19 appointment as a paid director at Nike took another twist Monday, as the UW chapter of the American Association of University Professors(AAUP) issued a formal statement calling for Wise to step down from the board of the Oregon corporation.

The AAUP announcement comes exactly one week before the start of the 2010 legislative session and a machete-knife budget that could compromise the university’s standing as a top-tier school.

“In my view it is simply inappropriate for a full time, highly paid public servant to personally benefit so handsomely from a corporate board position that she unquestionably gained because of her leadership of one of the most prestigious public universities in the world, “Rep. Reuven Carlyle said Monday. “While I certainly respect her right to privacy, surely she realizes that she is a public official by the very nature of her public role, position, and salary, and her fiduciary obligation is therefore to the people of Washington.”

“I have talented high school seniors in my Seattle district graduating with 3.5, 3.6 grade point averages who can’t get slots at UW,” Carlyle continued, “and their parents are justifiably resentful about that lack of access. That is the real higher education issue, and we need to refocus attention back on what’s important for real people living real lives.”

Opposition to Wise’s appointment largely revolves around the directorship’s annual six-figure compensation, the university’s public image, and Nike’s pattern of bullying universities affiliated with the Workers Rights Consortium and anti-sweatshop activism.

In addition, the University of Washington’s Advisory Committee on Trademarks and Licensing voted last month to put Nike on notice for disregarding the university’s code of conduct. Violations include Nike’s various failures to abide by mandated disclosure standards as well as its refusal to pay severance to workers at two Honduran factories.

The committee’s December 3 recommendation prompted UW President Mark Emmert to notify Nike poobahs that, “The failure of NIKE to properly respond to these current issues will inevitably jeopardize our business relationship.”

In a strongly worded letter written on Dec. 23 but just released, Emmert wrote, “I believe it is important to take this opportunity to underscore the importance of the Code of Conduct and emphasize NIKE’s obligation to fully comply with it. I value the University’s relationship with NIKE, but I also value highly the rights of laborers in NIKE’s manufacturing plants.”

The following is an excerpt from the AAUP statement:

Phyllis Wise clearly was not simply plucked from obscurity as a “private individual” by the Nike Corporation. Nor is it clear why she or President Emmert, both of whom are also members of the UW faculty, should be any more free to act “as a private individual” outside the existing regulations than any other member of the faculty. Since Phyllis Wise is a member of the faculty, her consideration of a position on Nike’s board should be subject to the same mechanisms already in place, for review and approval of the outside activities of faculty members, including service on corporate boards.

When companies seek to work with university faculty, however, it is generally on the basis of the faculty’s expertise in particular areas of research relevant to the company’s activities. It is difficult to see what special interest the Nike Corporation could possibly have in Phyllis Wise’s research expertise in obstetrics and gynecology. Rather, it seems clear that, as the Seattle Times suggests, it is “in her capacity as Provost” that she is being offered this position and is accepting it. In other words, the specialized knowledge and insight that Phyllis Wise has to offer to the Nike Corporation is not her research expertise, but rather her knowledge of (and association with) the University. The Provost’s decision may have been reviewed by legal experts and deemed legally permissible, but it is clearly not in accord with established governance mechanisms, nor is it the right thing to do.

AAUP-UW submits that it is not in the interest of the University for its top administrators to offer up knowledge about the institution, gained in the course of serving in a leadership position within it, to the Nike Corporation or any other private company in the form of a consultancy or service on a corporate board — especially when income from that consultancy goes not to the university itself but into the pocket of the administrator. This holds not only for the Provost but for the President as well.

The University spends a significant amount of money to pay its top administrators, and it is only fair for the University to expect that the individuals receiving that compensation act on behalf of the University and avoid even the appearance of conflicts. In this respect, the salaries of UW’s top administrators might be understood in terms of the argument made regarding police, legislators, and public servants more generally: that they must be compensated fairly in order to avoid creating conditions conducive to corruption. The obligation that this places upon such public servants is crystal clear: they must not enter into any agreement or accept any position that creates even the appearance of impropriety or conflict of interest.

Pete Jackson, a former gubernatorial speechwriter, lives in Everett, Wash. You can reach him in care of editor@crosscut.com.

NIKE BOARD APPOINTMENT IRKS UNIVERSITY OF WASHINGTON FACULTY

January 12th, 2010

Puget Sound Business Journal (Seattle) - Portland, Ore. Business Journal
Tuesday, January 5, 2010

uw-seal

An organization of professors at the University of Washington has asked Provost Phyllis Wise to step down from her recent appointment to Nike Inc.’s board of directors.

In a statement issued Monday, the Seattle university’s chapter of the American Association of University Professors said Wise’s position on the Nike board is rife with conflicts of interest.

“I understand that reasonable people hold differing views on whether university administrators should serve on corporate boards,” Wise said in a statement published Tuesday by The Seattle Times. “I believe universities and corporations have much to learn from each other. Corporate leaders serving on university boards of trustees and regents and university leaders serving on corporate boards can benefit both and can do so in ethically responsible ways.”

The faculty cited several conflicts of interest, including the Beaverton, Ore.-based sportswear company’s (NYSE: NKE) $35 million deal to outfit the university’s athletic department.

But they seem more riled about the direct association between the university’s second-in-command and a corporation tied to claims of unfair labor practices.

A university committee on trademarks and licensing recently voted that Nike was in violation of the university’s code of conduct. The committee said Nike failed to take effective action after two contractors in Honduras closed factories a year ago without paying workers after they unionized.

Nike issued a statement Tuesday saying the contractors, VisionTex and Hugger, were forced to close due to insolvency. Regardless, the company said it has been working to resolve the issue regarding severance for the employees.

“Nike believes that factories which directly employ workers are responsible for ensuring that their employees receive their correct entitlements,” the company said.

Nike announced Wise’s board appointment in November. Nike Chairman Phil Knight at the time said her experience as a respected leader and administrator of a multibillion-dollar budget “is a rare combination that makes her an ideal addition to our board.”

The faculty also stated concerns about academic freedom on a campus where students and faculty have openly criticized Nike’s labor practices.

“It may not be Provost Wise’s intention to silence criticism from labor rights experts. But when faculty report to a provost who is on Nike’s payroll, institutional incentives favor tolerance for sweatshop abuses,” the faculty wrote. “This is not in the best interests of academic freedom nor of the university.”

BRING “BEHIND THE SWOOSH” TO YOUR CAMPUS THIS SEMESTER

January 12th, 2010

Jim Keady speaking at Willamette University (WA)

Jim Keady speaking at Willamette University (WA)


Team Sweat:

I am writing to let you know that my speaking tour calendar is filing up for the spring semester. I am currently booked to speak in Washington, Arizona, Missouri, New Jersey, Indiana, New York, and Florida. I am also in discussions with schools in Rhode Island, Maryland, California, Massachusetts, Ohio, Connecticut, Illinois, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, and Louisiana.

If you are interested in bringing “Behind the Swoosh: Sweatshops and Social Justice” to your campus, please email me at jim@educatingforjustice.org or call me at 732.988.7322.

I hope to hear from you soon!

Happy New Year!

Peace, Jim Keady

STUDENTS AT THE UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA ASK QUESTIONS ABOUT NIKE SWEATSHOPS AND GATOR-GEAR

January 12th, 2010

UF Students get a glimpse of new Gator football uniforms
By Nathan Crabbe
Staff writer
The Gainesville Sun
www.gainsville.com


Tuesday, November 24, 2009

university-of-fl-football

University of Florida students gathered Tuesday to get a glimpse at new Gator football uniforms, but some questioned whether such clothing was being produced in sweatshops.

Nike displayed its new Pro Combat jerseys and related “Finish the Mission” merchandise on campus. The alternate uniforms, which are lighter and have different colors and designs than the typical Gator uniforms, will be worn by the team for the first time during Saturday’s game against Florida State.

While students lined up to win free shirts and see the uniforms, few expressed interest in buying the $80 jerseys and $24 T-shirts.

“For a regular college student, a lot of it is too expensive,” said Alex Mollengarden, a 19-year-old engineering major.

Students with UF Amnesty International expressed quite a different concern — that UF merchandise might be made with cheap labor in poor working conditions. Group President Emily Flynn called for UF to join the Worker Rights Consortium, an independent group that monitors conditions at factories making merchandise.

“UF would be taking a stand for human rights,” she said.

UF athletic association spokesman Steve McClain pointed out the fact that UF is a member of the Fair Labor Association, another monitoring group.

“The FLA works closely with apparel companies and factories to ensure that workers’ rights are protected,” he said in an e-mail.

But some — including the group United Students Against Sweatshops, which is affiliated with Amnesty’s campaign — have accused the Fair Labor Association of being beholden to industry. Flynn noted that a Nike executive is part of the association’s board.

“Nike is on the board of an organization that monitors Nike,” she said.

A Nike representative did not return calls seeking comment. Fair Labor Association Executive Director Jorge Perez-Lopez said his group’s board includes industry representatives as well as university and non-governmental organization representatives.

“It has companies because we think companies are the ones that can fix things,” he said.

He said the association rigorously monitors factories through about 150 random audits each year and also responds to complaints. But Flynn questioned the transparency of the association’s audits, which lack information such as the names of the factories.

She said her group’s campaign was not calling upon UF to drop Nike, although it included the “Finish the Mission” slogan in fliers questioning whether UF merchandise was made using sweatshop labors.

While students readily took the fliers, most proceeded to a line where they were given a chance to win shirts and see the uniforms.

Students were given a code that they used to open a vault. Only certain codes opened the door to reveal a complete uniform on display.

Some students said they liked changes such as a white helmet, although a common complaint was the stitching on the jersey’s shoulders that looked like wings.

“I like the helmet, but the shoulder pads seem out of place,” said Paul Turner, a 19-year-old computer engineering major.

While several agreed with concerns about sweatshops, more students said their bigger concern was the cost of the clothing.

Public relations major Alex Glover, 19, said he would consider whether a clothing item was made in a sweatshop but might still buy it if another item was pricier.

“I hate to say it, but in the end, I’ll probably go with the cheaper shirt,” he said.

Contact Nathan Crabbe at 338-3176 or nathan.crabbe@gvillesun.com.

UNIVERSITY OF WISCONSIN PUTS NIKE ON NOTICE

January 12th, 2010

by Todd Finkelmeyer
The Capital Times (Madison)
December 8, 2009

uw-madison-hat

University of Wisconsin-Madison Chancellor Biddy Martin has decided to
give Nike four months to clear up problems of reported workers’ rights
abuses at two factories that the sports apparel giant subcontracts with in
Honduras.

If the situation isn’t remedied, the university could end its apparel
contract with Nike — a deal which brings the university nearly $50,000
per year.

Martin said Monday that she hopes to build a coalition of interested
schools from the Big Ten Conference and other peer institutions to put
pressure on Nike. The success of these attempts may go a long way in
determining whether Nike is brought to its proverbial knees — or
continues with business as usual.

“I think in order to be effective it’s necessary to get other schools
involved, and I know there are other campuses considering and researching
what’s going on,” Martin said following a Faculty Senate meeting at Bascom
Hall.

Dawn Crim, a special assistant to the chancellor for community relations,
said that in discussions with Nike it has “become clear” the company is
working to rectify the situation.

“But we wanted to nail down a time frame,” Crim said Monday. “These issues
do take time, and the chancellor thought 120 days was reasonable. If, in
fact, (Nike) is working to solve problems, that’s enough time — but it’s
not open ended.”

The university first made the announcement about Martin’s message to Nike
in this press release.

If you think getting an apparel giant to stop its alleged anti-sweatshop
practices is simply a pipe dream, you haven’t been paying attention.

UW-Madison and student activists on campus played a key role in persuading
Russell Athletic — one of the nation’s leading sportswear companies — on
Nov. 17 to rehire 1,200 workers in Honduras who had lost their jobs when
Russell shuttered its factory shortly after workers unionized. In that
instance, UW-Madison was one of nearly 100 colleges and universities which
ended apparel deals with Russell — forcing the company to change its ways
if it wanted to get back into the profitable collegiate apparel-making
business. For more on that story, click here.

According to an October report produced by the Worker Rights Consortium,
two factories Nike subcontracts with in Honduras — Vision Tex and Hugger
de Honduras — closed in January without paying more than $2 million in
legally mandated severance and back pay to 1,800 workers. As a licensee of
UW-Madison apparel, Nike is bound by a university code of conduct for
producers that require payment of these legally mandated wages and other
benefits.

Martin first wrote a letter to Nike on Nov. 3 expressing concerns about
the allegations and asking the company to “provide us with detailed
information about your company’s remediation plans” by Nov. 11. According
to University Communications, Martin was the first college president to
write Nike to ask for a detailed remediation plan.

On Nov. 10, Nike sent a generic letter to all universities that had been
asking about the situation, stating the company is “deeply concerned about
the issues raised by the Worker Rights Consortium ….”

That letter also states: “It is important to note that, to the best of our
knowledge, none of the products manufactured for Nike at either Hugger or
Vision Tex was collegiate licensed apparel, aside from a one-time order of
800 units in 2007 for one university partner.”

UW-Madison administrators, however, were not satisfied with that blanket
response.

Crim said Nike has “since apologized for not getting back to us quicker
and now they say they’re glad to be working with us on this.”

UW-Madison’s Labor Licensing Policy Committee voted 7-2 on Nov. 13 to
recommend that Chancellor Martin start taking steps to end the
university’s apparel contract with Nike. (For a story on this, click
here.) The committee’s vote, however, is strictly advisory.

Late last week, Martin wrote to members of the committee to notify them
that she believes Nike is working in good faith toward a resolution.
Therefore, Martin plans to give Nike four months to solve the issue, make
“satisfactory, demonstrable progress,” or allow the company’s relationship
with the university to lapse.

But not everyone is happy with Martin’s timeline.

Jan Van Tol, a UW-Madison senior and a member of both the Labor Licensing
Policy Committee and the Student Labor Action Coalition, said: “We are
very disappointed with the Chancellor’s response. Not only has she given
Nike an absurdly long timeline, but she’s also set the bar very low. Let’s
be clear: Nike could pay its debts tomorrow — it simply doesn’t want to.
That’s why giving them four months just to make `progress’ is so bizarre.”

Adds Van Tol, who graduates later this month:

“Nike has been given ample opportunity to pay its workers, but continues
to stall. Giving them more time, after they’ve already had eleven months,
is simply irresponsible and is not an effective way to enforce the code of
conduct.”

UNIVERSITY CALLS NIKE OUT FOR SWEATSHOP TACTICS

January 12th, 2010

By: fflambeau
Originally Posted on www.firedoglake.com
Wednesday December 9, 2009 8:45 pm

uw-badger

Nike is one of the largest sports apparel companies in the world with most of its apparel being made in 3rd world countries for a song and then sold in the 1st world for huge mark-ups.

Recently, the Chancellor of the University of Wisconsin, Madison, Carolyn “Biddy” Martin put Nike on notice giving it 4 months to clear up problems of reported worker rights abuses at subcontractor factories in Honduras.

From a press release issued by the university:

At issue is the treatment of workers at two apparel factories, Hugger de Honduras and Vision Tex. Both factories, at which it is believed that collegiately licensed apparel was produced, were shut down without notice in January.

Since then, their owners have allegedly failed to pay workers a combined total of more than $2 million in legally mandated severance and back wages. Nike is a UW-Madison licensee.

Employees are reportedly owed an average of $1,000 per person, a significant sum in the country, according to the Workers Rights Consortium, the university’s independent labor monitoring organization.

To begin to address the issue, on Nov. 3, Martin was the first college president to write to the corporation asking for a detailed remediation plan.

Nike is a university licensee with sales generating almost $50,000 a year in income to U.W-Madison. Nike, when it entered into the licensee agreement, agreed to a code of conduct that stipulated its responsibilities in dealing with workers, factories, subcontractors and suppliers.

The Workers Rights Consortium in October, 2009 issued more details on the Honduran plants and Nike’s role in them:

The WRC found that both Hugger and Vision Tex shut down on January 19, 2009 without prior warning and did not pay workers legally mandated terminal compensation. In the case of Vision Tex, additionally we found that employees were not paid for their last week of work. The total amount owed to the workers of Hugger at the time of closure was $2,030,359.85, while the total amount owed to the employees of Vision Tex was $571,895.62. The workers of the two plants have since been able to generate fifteen percent and twenty-one percent, respectively, of the compensation owed to them through the liquidation of the physical assets of the factories. That liquidation process is now effectively over. The workers of Hugger are still owed $1,725,805.87; the workers of Vision Tex are still owed $450,459.49.

…WRC has recommended to Nike that it ask its contractors – which were the factories’ primary direct buyers prior to their closure – to provide the funds necessary to make the workers whole. The contractors are New Holland Lingerie (at Vision Tex) and Anvil Knitwear and Haddad Apparel Group (at Hugger). All three companies are based in the United States.

Nike is obligated under university codes of conduct to ensure that labor rights violations by its contractors are remedied.

…Nike has indicated that it has discussed the matter with its business partners. However, this has not led to progress on remediation; the violations remain outstanding. It bears noting that in communications with the WRC and at least one affiliate university, Nike has downplayed its role in the facilities, suggesting that its production was not substantial in either plant and that its responsibility for addressing the violations is therefore diminished. As detailed herein, the WRC has found, contrary to Nike’s assertions, that Nike was the dominant brand produced for a substantial period of time at both facilities.

Perhaps even more troubling to Nike is the information that Chancellor Martin is seeking to build a coalition of other Big 10 universities and peer institutions as well as the Workers Rights Consortium and the Collegiate Licensing Company on workers rights issues. Says Chancellor Martin:

“I think in order to be effective, it’s necessary to get other schools involved, and I know there are other campuses considering and researching what’s going on.”

Wisconsin-Madison alone has more than 40,000 students and with the other 10 Big Ten schools, mostly mega-land grant institutions (the conference actually has 11 schools) the numbers are large enough to put big pressure on companies like Nike: over 350,000 students who are lifelong consumers of athletic products.

Such tactics have worked in the past:

UW-Madison and student activists on campus played a key role in persuading Russell Athletic–one of the nation’s leading sportswear companies–on Nov. 17 to rehire 1,200 workers in Honduras who had lost their jobs when Russell shuttered its factory shortly after workers unionized. In that instance, UW-Madison was one of nearly 100 colleges and universities which ended apparel deals with Russell–forcing the company to change its ways if it wanted to get back into profitable collegiate apparel-making business.

Dawn Crim, a special assistant to Chancellor Martin, believes that it has “become clear” that Nike is working to resolve the situation. But not all are convinced or happy with the 4 month deadline. Jan Van Tol, a UW-Madison senior and member of the university’s Labor Licensing Committee said:

“We are very disappointed with the Chancellor’s response. Not only has she given Nike an absurdly long timeline, but she’s also set the bar very low. Let’s be clear: Nike could pay its debts tomorrow–it simply doesn’t want to. That’s why giving them four months just to ‘make’ progress is so bizarre.”

Van Tol also pointed out Nike already has had 11 months to clean up its act.

CHALLENGING NICHOLAS KRISTOF’S ADVOCACY OF NIKE’S SWEATSHOPS

January 12th, 2010

By Jeff Ballinger

niketown-riot-police

“On the Media” with Brooke Gladstone in the anchor chair at NPR is always a good deal more than a diversion while cleaning the garage or running week-end errands; she explores many topics that you won’t see covered, or didn’t even appear to one as problems, opportunities, etc. But, when you do an interview with someone like Nick Kristof – whose audience dwarfs your own – you ought to be especially prepared to “afflict the comfortable.” She needn’t have searched too long to find controversy in this man’s last decade of columns and, no, it is not because he practices “advocacy journalism” unless – and here’s the point – he’s advocating for sweatshops.

He “flinches” when he hears his work called advocacy (I believe that he meant “wince” or “cringe” but, hey, who gets the big bucks for putting words together?); she countered by pointing out that he often directs readers to his favorite charities when riding his Sudan hobby-horse. This is certainly not to say that we hear enough about Darfur or even to denigrate the notion of journalist-as-advocate, but there is a back-story here.

The brutality of the global, outsource-everything economy was being covered very well by Kristof’s colleague, Bob Herbert. In nearly ten searing anti-sweatshop columns in the mid-Nineties, he captured Americans’ disquietude about corporate-led globalization while pointing out the tone-deaf callousness of Bill Clinton’s team; the latter was summed up nicely by James Carville when asked about his Nike deal (by another journalist, not Herbert): he berated the reporter for deigning to ask, snarling, “I own stock in Royal Dutch Shell, too.”

This was just like saying that any Democrat who was internationalist and concerned with human rights ought to just get with the program; just go get “yours” and don’t worry about the other guy. Carville dismissed concern about abused workers as “protectionist.”

So, it was clear that Herbert was out of step — especially the trenchant truth-telling which left the named shoe and toy brands with nowhere to hide. When Phil Knight (Nike’s prickly CEO, at the time) asked for a meeting with the New York Times’ editorial board in 1998, the multi-billionaire was accommodated. Herbert never wrote another anti-sweatshop column and Nick Kristof reformulated the Times’ editorial page position to “pro-sweatshop.”

What do you think would happen if a consumer or anti-sweatshop group would demand a meeting with the Times’ editorial board to complain about Nick? This is the type of question one might ask to get down to the nitty-gritty (which OtM usually does). An additional quibble: Kristof explains his work as “reporting” and he is not challenged on it. In fact, he is an opinion-monger — with no need to apologize for advocacy, quite the opposite!

Jeff Ballinger is completing a Laborers-funded doctorate fellowship at McMaster University near Toronto. He can be reached at: jeffreyd@mindspring.com

PHIL KNIGHT PLACES $1,300,000,000.00 OF NIKE STOCK IN TRUSTS

January 12th, 2010

By Brent Hunsberger, The Oregonian
December 30, 2009, 8:56PM

phil-knight
NIKE FOUNDER AND CHAIRMAN, PHIL KNIGHT

Phil Knight, two months shy of 72, has kicked into serious estate-planning mode, tapping a good friend and former University of Oregon athletic director to help out.

In his largest stock move to date, Nike’s chairman and co-founder on Wednesday gave 20 million shares of his company’s stock, worth about $1.32 billion, to three trusts in his name. Nike disclosed the move in a filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

The person overseeing the trusts, according to the filing: Pat Kilkenny, who served as UO’s top athletics official when Knight donated $100 million to the department.

The filing does not say who ultimately will benefit from the trusts. But estate-planning attorneys say the move is a common way wealthy individuals pass on their fortunes to heirs while reducing their tax liability and still earning income from the assets.

Knight has two children, Travis and Christina. A second son, Matthew, died in 2004 and is survived by a wife and two sons.

Nike spokespeople did not return messages seeking comment Wednesday.

Knight has sold Nike stock on a fairly regular basis in the past, including about 5 million shares in October. But this is his largest single move, representing nearly one-quarter of his stake in the world’s largest sportswear company.

He still owns 65 million shares worth about $4.3 billion, the filing shows. Nike shares closed Wednesday at $66.14 on the New York Stock Exchange, just 29 cents off a 52-week high. The stock has gained 30 percent year-to-date.

Knight split the shares among three grantor retained annuity trusts. The so-called GRATs pay an annuity at a fixed annual rate, most likely, in this case, to Knight. The trusts can be set up for any amount of time or for the rest of Knight’s life.

When the trust ends, any remaining amount would be passed on to beneficiaries tax-free. And if Nike’s stock grows in value as it should, plenty should be left. Knight will pay taxes this year on the gifts but generally at less cost than if he waited or held on to the stock until death, attorneys say.

Knight’s choice of Kilkenny as trustee illustrates the close relationship between the Oregon alumni and Ducks donors. Attorneys generally discourage naming family members or employees as trustees and often appoint professionals or institutions.

Kilkenny, a former insurance company executive who presumably has little experience overseeing trusts, could not be reached for comment.

“If you have a really good friend that you trust, that’s the person you want as your trustee,” said Jonathan D. Mishkin, an estate-planning and tax attorney at Harrang Long Gary Rudnick in Portland. He also teaches at Oregon law school.

Kilkenny also gets the duty of accounting for trust income and deciding when to unload stock.

“He has to decide when to hold and when to fold,” said Kay Abramowitz, an estate-planning attorney at Ater Wynne in Portland.

Knight’s Nike shares give him authority to pick nine of 12 Nike board members. But he converted his Class A shares to Class B shares, which lack the same appointment authority, before donating the stock to the trusts.

SHOULD NIKE WORKERS CONSIDER CALLING FOR A BOYCOTT OF NIKE PRODUCTS?

December 8th, 2009

Team Sweat:

This past month a monumental victory was won for workers in Honduras who had been producing products for Russell Athletic. Here are the details on the case as provided by the United Students Against Sweatshops.

Just over a year ago, Russell Athletic announced it would close Jerzees de Honduras in response to workers’ organizing efforts. During that year, USAS organized the largest boycott in the history of modern student activism. Now, as a direct result of our efforts, we have won an unprecedented victory — the company has agreed to meet worker demands to reopen the factory and re-hire all 1200 workers, who have been without jobs for 10 months or more. View the details of the agreement here.

Landmark Victory: A Precedent is Set
This is one of the most significant youth-led campaign victories in recent times and one of the most significant campaign victories of the global justice movement. No one has ever forced a multinational corporation to reopen a facility it shut down in the global race to the bottom. This victory has also proven that together, we can successfully fight back when those in power take advantage of the economic crisis to attack working people. We should take strength and inspiration from the example of the workers of Jerzees de Honduras. We can fight back — and WIN — against policies that benefit a privileged few and hurt our communities.

In light of this victory, I think that it is time for Nike’s workers in Indonesia and elsewhere to consider requesting that your allies here in the U.S.A. collaborate with you in calling for a boycott of Nike products. As you can see from the Russell example, that is what will hurt Nike the most and break them to the point that they will meet workers’ demands. I will be reaching out to my contacts in Indonesia to pursue this strategy and I hope that it will be considered by workers and trade unionists there.

For more info on the Russel victory, I have included a recent article from the NY Times below.

Peace, Jim Keady

NEW YORK TIMES
Labor Fight Ends in Win for Students
by Steven Greenhouse
November 17, 2009

Students protesting Russell Athletic
The anti-sweatshop movement at dozens of American universities, from Georgetown to U.C.L.A., has had plenty of idealism and energy, but not many victories.

In August, members of United Students Against Sweatshops picketed a Target store in Washington, to pressure the retailer to stop selling products made by Russell Athletic.

Until now.

The often raucous student movement announced on Tuesday that it had achieved its biggest victory by far. Its pressure tactics persuaded one of the nation’s leading sportswear companies, Russell Athletic, to agree to rehire 1,200 workers in Honduras who lost their jobs when Russell closed their factory soon after the workers had unionized.

From the time Russell shut the factory last January, the anti-sweatshop coalition orchestrated a nationwide campaign against the company. Most important, the coalition, United Students Against Sweatshops, persuaded the administrations of Boston College, Columbia, Harvard, New York University, Stanford, Michigan, North Carolina and 89 other colleges and universities to sever or suspend their licensing agreements with Russell. The agreements — some yielding more than $1 million in sales — allowed Russell to put university logos on T-shirts, sweatshirts and fleeces.

Going beyond their campuses, student activists picketed the N.B.A. finals in Orlando and Los Angeles this year to protest the league’s licensing agreement with Russell. They distributed fliers inside Sports Authority sporting goods stores and sent Twitter messages to customers of Dick’s Sporting Goods to urge them to boycott Russell products.

The students even sent activists to knock on Warren Buffett’s door in Omaha because his company, Berkshire Hathaway, owns Fruit of the Loom, Russell’s parent company.

“It’s a very important breakthrough,” said Mel Tenen, who oversees licensing agreements for the University of Miami, the first school to sever ties with Russell. “It’s not often that a major licensee will take such a necessary and drastic step to correct the injustices that affected its workers. This paves the way for us to seriously consider reopening our agreement with Russell.”

Other colleges are expected to do the same. Analysts say the college market occupies a significant part of Russell’s business. Because Fruit of the Loom does not detail Russell’s sales, it is not known how large a part.

In its agreement, not only did Russell agree to reinstate the dismissed workers and open a new plant in Honduras as a unionized factory, it also pledged not to fight unionization at its seven existing factories there.

Mike Powers, a Cornell official who is on the board of the Worker Rights Consortium, said Cornell had canceled its licensing agreement because it viewed Russell’s closing of the Honduras factory as a flagrant violation of the university’s code of conduct, which calls for honoring workers’ freedom of association. He applauded Russell’s agreement, which was reached with the consortium and union leaders in Honduras over the weekend.

“This is a landmark event in the history of workers’ rights and the codes of conduct that we expect our licensees to follow,” Mr. Powers said. “My hat is off to Russell.”

John Shivel, a spokesman for Russell and Fruit of the Loom, said, “We are very pleased with the agreement between Russell Athletic and the Workers Rights Consortium, and look forward to its implementation.”

He declined to discuss why Russell had adopted a friendlier attitude toward unionization after years of aggressively fighting unions.

In a statement Russell released jointly with the apparel workers’ union in Honduras, the company said the agreement was “intended to foster workers’ rights in Honduras and establish a harmonious” relationship.

“This agreement represents a significant achievement in the history of the apparel sector in Honduras and Central America,” the joint statement said.

In the past, the Honduran workers condemned Russell’s behavior, saying that it had fired 145 workers in 2007 for supporting a union. The union’s vice president, Norma Mejia, said at a Berkshire Hathaway shareholders’ meeting last May that she had received death threats for helping lead the union. Russell denied the assertion.

Union leaders in Honduras hailed the agreement, which would put hundreds of laid-off employees back to work in a country whose economy has been hit by a political crisis over who will lead it.

“For us, it was very important to receive the support of the universities,” Moises Alvarado, president of the union at the closed plant in Choloma, said by telephone on Tuesday. “We are impressed by the social conscience of the students in the United States.”

This was in no way an overnight victory — it came after 10 years of building a movement that persuaded scores of universities to adopt detailed codes of conduct for the factories used by licensees like Russell. In addition, the students, sometimes through lengthy sit-ins, pressured their officials to create and finance an independent monitoring group, the Worker Rights Consortium, that inspected factories to make sure they complied with the universities’ codes.

When the consortium issued a detailed report accusing Russell of violating workers’ rights, United Students Against Sweatshops began its nationwide campaign.

Scott Nova, executive director of the Worker Rights Consortium, which has more than 170 universities as members, said: “This represents the maturation of the universities’ codes of conduct. There’s a recognition by the universities of their ability to influence the actions of important brands and change outcomes for the better.”

He said the agreement was “unprecedented” in terms of scope and size and in “the transformative impact it can have in one of the hardest regions of the world to win respect for workers’ rights.”

Mr. Nova also praised Russell for changing course. “I think the executives at Russell recognized it was time for a new approach,” he said. “They decided it was important for the success of their company.”

As part of its campaign, United Students Against Sweatshops contacted students at more than 100 campuses where it did not have chapters, getting them involved, including at Western Kentucky University in Bowling Green, where Fruit of the Loom has its headquarters. The group helped arrange a letter signed by 65 members of Congress, who voiced “grave concern about reports of severe violations” of labor rights at Russell.

This time around, the students did not feel the need to resort to sit-ins to persuade university administrators.

“The schools remember our sit-ins of the past,” said Dida El-Sourady, a senior at the University of North Carolina. “There’s an institutional memory that students will escalate their tactics, and this could become a very big deal, a lot bigger than people holding signs.”

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John Perkins new book “Hoodwinked” features Team Sweat’s fight for justice in Nike’s sweatshops

November 11th, 2009

johnperkins-hoodwinked

Tonight I will be attending the book release party for John Perkins’ new book “Hoodwinked.” John Perkins is the author of the best-seller, “Confessions of an Economic Hitman.”  In chapter 19 of Hoodwinked, Perkins discusses the work we are doing with Team Sweat and our fight for living wages and union contracts for Nike’s factory workers.

Here is a link to Perkins’ recent interview with Democracy Now’s, Amy Goodman and below is information about the book.

Peace, Jim Keady

about this book

John Perkins has seen the signs of today’s economic meltdown before. The subprime mortgage fiascos, the banking industry collapse, the rising tide of unemployment, the shuttering of small businesses across the landscape are all too familiar symptoms of a far greater disease. In his former life as an economic hit man, he was on the front lines both as an observer and a perpetrator of events, once confined only to the third world, that have now sent the United States—and in fact the entire planet—spiraling toward disaster.

Here, Perkins pulls back the curtain on the real cause of the current global financial meltdown. He shows how we’ve been hoodwinked by the CEOs who run the corporatocracy—those few corporations that control the vast amounts of capital, land, and resources around the globe—and the politicians they manipulate. These corporate fat cats, Perkins explains, have sold us all on what he calls predatory capitalism, a misguided form of geopolitics and capitalism that encourages a widespread exploitation of the many to benefit a small number of the already very wealthy. Their arrogance, gluttony, and mismanagement have brought us to this perilous edge. The solution is not a “return to normal.”

But there is a way out. As Perkins makes clear, we can create a healthy economy that will encourage businesses to act responsibly, not only in the interests of their shareholders and corporate partners (and the lobbyists they have in their pockets), but in the interests of their employees, their customers, the environment, and society at large.

We can create a society that fosters a just, sustainable, and safe world for us and our children. Each one of us makes these choices every day, in ways that are clearly spelled out in this book.

“We hold the power,” he says, “if only we recognize it.” Hoodwinked is a powerful polemic that shows not only how we arrived at this precarious point in our history but also what we must do to stop the global tailspin.

Western Retailers pushed to increase wages for Asian garment workers

October 19th, 2009

From The Financial Times 9/27/09


Foreign garment buyers urged to contribute to worker wages

By Dilshani Samaraweera


Foreign garment buyers are being asked to pay a few cents more for garments bought from Asian countries, including Sri Lanka – to help pay decent wages to garment workers. Worker representative groups in major Asian garment producing countries are launching a campaign called the ‘Asian Floor Wage Campaign’ in October, targeting international garment buying companies.

The campaign will also ask for support from US and EU bases trade unions and consumer movements as well. Trade unions in Sri Lanka say western garment retailers and international apparel brands can afford to pay a few cents extra for workers.

“Garment retailers and brands have such big profit margins, they can definitely afford to pay a few cents extra to help garment workers in Asian countries. Just as an example, if you take a shirt that is sold at US$ 22.50 to US consumers, 75% of that price is profit for the retailer. If the shirt is made in Sri Lanka the labour cost is only 2.8% of the price. Up to the CIF value it is only 23.1% of the retail price,” said the President of the Progress Union, Palitha Athukorala. The Progress Union is part of the trade union and NGO grouping called ALaRM that is heading the Asian Floor Wage campaign in Sri Lanka.

“We are asking international garment buyers to pay a little extra, to be given directly to the workers, not to the garment factories,” said Mr Athukorala. ALaRM says it is directly targeting foreign buyers of garments because most local garment factories are already operating under shrinking profit margins. “We are directly targeting the big international buyers because even in Sri Lanka most garment factories have very small profit margins. They have been forced by buyers to cut their selling prices,” said Mr Athukorala.
In Sri Lanka, women’s groups say the poor pay is forcing garment workers to cut down on already poor food intake and is hurting entire families.

“Garment workers in Sri Lanka are mainly women. So they are caretakers of their own families and in many cases, their extended families as well. Wages most of the time are not enough even for a single person to eat three square meals and also cover other costs like rent and transport,” said Ms Chamila Thushari, from Da Bindu, a women’s group.

The Asian Floor Wage proposed by the campaign sets a standard basic wage for garment workers across Asia, based on cost of living. It is currently calculated at 475 international dollars (using the purchasing power parity method of the World Bank) for Asan countries.

Based on a floor wage calculation for Sri Lanka, ALaRM says garment workers should be getting a basic monthly wage of Rs 16,705.75 (US $ 145.66), excluding overtime payments. But at this point, say women’s groups and trade unions, most garment sector workers earn, at most, about Rs 11,000, with over time work added. ALaRM says international garment buyers should cover the wage gap by paying a few cents extra to workers producing clothing in Sri Lanka.

Big western retailers like Walmart, Carrefour, Lidle, Aldi, Tesco, J C Penny’s and Marks and Spencer, control large shares of the western garment retail markets. This gives them bigger bargaining power on how much they pay local factories for garments they buy from Sri Lanka and other Asian countries. Right now there is growing pressure on local factories by big buyers, to reduce their selling prices. Big buying brands like Gap, Tommy Hilfiger, H&M also influence labour conditions, says ALaRM.

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Nike founder, Phil Knight, called a “revolutionary” by Forbes Magazine - No mention of sweatshop exploitation

October 14th, 2009

Team Sweat:

On October 2, 2009, Forbes Magazine published its “Forbes 400 - Revolutionaries.” The online piece stated that, “These captains of capitalism built a product, created a market or satisfied a need that touches us all.”

Philip Knight $9.5 bil Nike. Beaverton, Ore. 71.

Shoe baron ran track for U. of Oregon, teamed up with coach to create Blue
Ribbon Sports 1964; sold Japanese shoes from car. Later renamed Nike, after
Greek goddess of victory. Sales: $19.2 billion, largest sports footwear,
apparel company in the world. Owns 20% of company’s shares after selling off
$1 billion in stock last year. Remaining hoard worth $6 billion; shares up
50% from March lows. Reaping benefits from 2008 Beijing Olympics sponsorship
deal; Asian revenue grew 15% during past year, U.S. only 2%. Cut 5% of
workforce in May; net income still fell 20% during fiscal 2009. Famous for
superstar endorsers: Michael Jordan, Roger Federer, Tiger Woods. Gave $100
million to U. of Oregon’s athletic department in 2007.

What Forbes fails to mention is that Phil Knight, the founder of Nike and the leader of this dubious pack of “captains of capitalism” made his $9,500,000,000.00 by exploiting the poverty and desperation of men, women and unfortunately sometimes children, in developing countries around the world. If Phil Knight lived in the 19th century, he would have been rightly called a robber baron. He steals labor from the poor and marginalized and lines his pockets with the wealth they generate. This is immoral and unjust.

Peace, Jim Keady

A longtime Nike consumer speaks out about Nike’s sweatshops

October 14th, 2009

I live in Oregon. In some ways I have benefitted from that association with Nike, but I cannot in good conscience say it is OK for Nike to treat people internationally the way they do. I use Nike products. I especially enjoy my Nike Plus to measure distances and times of my runs. I even have some personal connections with the people at Nike and with the company. I even bought Blue Ribbon Shoes out of the back of Phil Knight’s van when I was in high school in the 1960s. But I cannot condone their employment of sweatshops to produce their products.

- Steve Modee

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A passionate letter to Nike CEO, Mark Parker

October 14th, 2009

Team Sweat,

Here is a note that was sent to Nike CEO, Mark Parker by a Team Sweat supporter. Have you emailed Mark? mark.parker@nike.com

Peace, Jim Keady

Mark,

I am disgusted in Nike and the treatment of their workers…Yes they are NIKE’s WORKERS (tell Phil Knight I said so) they make the products Nike puts on the shelves. I am going to share with everyone I know how Nike is a profit monster and does not pay it’s factory workers enough money to live a dignified life. How can you continue to work for a company who does not pay workers enough money to live with their kids in an 8×8 square cement box? I’m sure your office is bigger than 8×8 & you wouldn’t be able to live in it for more than 1 day. I think all USA Nike employees need to take a trip to Indonesia to see for themselves how these humans are living in such despair. Your company and the way they treat human-kind makes me sick to my stomach. All people deserve to be able to feed themselves & have proper personal hygiene. You need to change the conditions of the factories & the slums these hard workers live in. Stop burning scrap rubber—do you have kids? Would you want them to inhale toxic rubber fumes?? Can you live on $1.25 a day?? You probably spend more than $1.25 on a damn cup of coffee. Individuals & the decisions they make steer the corporation. Start making some ethical decisions on Nike’s behalf.

End the Nike slavery,

Alexis N. Burgner

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Lawrence Technical University (MI) - 10/07/09

October 7th, 2009

« Back to the calendar

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Tiger Woods Cracks the $1 Billion Dollar Mark in Career Earnings

September 30th, 2009

Team Sweat:

Please read the article below and note that while Tiger has just broken through the billion dollar threshold, most workers in Nike factories around the world - the people that are generating the real wealth, the stuff that you can actually touch with your hands - are living in abject poverty.

When I saw this, I was reminded of an excerpt from the U.S. Catholic Bishop’s pastoral letter, Economic Justice for All.

“…In her Magnificat, Mary rejoices in a God who scatters the proud, brings down the mighty and raises up the poor and lowly (Lk. 1:51-53). The first public utterance of Jesus is ‘The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because He has anointed me to preach good news to the poor’ (Lk. 4:18 cf. Is. 61:1-2). Jesus adds to the blessing on the poor a warning, ‘Woe to you who are rich, for you have received your consolation’ (Lk. 6:24). He warns his followers against greed and reliance on abundant possessions and underscores this by the parable of the man whose life is snatched away at the very moment he tries to secure his wealth (Lk. 12:13-21). In Luke alone, Jesus tells teh parable of the rich man who does not see the poor and suffering Lazarus at his gate (Lk. 16:19-31). When the rich man finally ’sees’ Lazarus, it is from the place of torment and the opportunity for conversion has passed. Pope John Paul II has often recalled this parable to warn the prosperous not to be blind to the great poverty that exists beside great wealth.” (EJFA #48)

Perhaps we can all say a prayer for Tiger today that he might come to understand that much of his material wealth is generated through the crushing poverty and exploitation of others.

Peace, Jim Keady

tiger_woods_swing
Sports Business
Sports’ First Billion-Dollar Man
Kurt Badenhausen, 09.29.09, 07:25 PM EDT
Forbes Magazine
www.forbes.com

Tiger Woods has been making history on and off the course since he joined the PGA Tour in 1996. First up was a record $40 million contract from Nike. The following year he won the Masters by a record 12 strokes, becoming the youngest winner ever and first black player to take the title. His career has been packed full of accomplishments, including major titles (14), annual money titles (9) and Player of the Year awards (9).

Now Woods can add one more accolade to his trophy case: the first athlete to earn $1 billion. Our calculations show that the $10 million bonus Woods earned winning this year’s FedEx Cup title nudged him over the $1 billion mark in career earnings.

Forbes has been tracking athlete earnings since before Tiger turned pro. Woods had earned a cumulative $895 million going into 2009, by our estimates, from prize money, appearance fees, endorsements, bonuses and his golf course design business. If you add his $10.5 million in 2009 prize money, the FedEx bonus and his take so far this year from his more than $100 million in annual off-the-course earnings, Woods’ career earnings are now 10 figures.

Woods has only two real competitors when it comes to career earnings among athletes: the two Michaels, Jordan and Schumacher, who dominated their respective sports for nearly 15 years. Jordan’s earning peaked during his last season with the Chicago Bulls (1998-’99), when he earned $69 million in salary and endorsement income.

Jordan continues to earn $45 million annually, almost entirely from Nike ( NKE - news - people ). We estimate that Jordan has earned $800 million since he entered the NBA in 1984. Annual sales of the Jordan brand are now $1 billion for Nike, so MJ should hit the $1 billion mark in career earnings in the next four to five years.

Schumacher’s earnings peaked at $80 million in 2003, when he won his record sixth World Drivers’ Championship (he won a seventh title the following year). His $40 million salary was the highest in sports at the time and his income doubled when you factored in endorsements, licensing deals and championship bonuses. Schumacher has earned $700 million, by our count, since his Formula One debut in 1991.

As for Woods, only his accountant knows if Tiger is a billionaire athlete yet, but if it did not happen on Sunday it is likely only a matter of months or his next check from Nike. Woods has been the world’s highest-paid athlete since 2002, when he surpassed Schumacher. His earnings have surged in recent years as he launched a golf course design business. He currently has three courses underway that pay him more than $10 million per project. The launch of the FedEx Cup has been a bonus for Woods, who has taken the $10 million top prize in two of its three years (a knee injury prevented his participation last year). Woods also commands $3 million appearances fees when he plays outside the United States.

Woods lost General Motors’ Buick division as a sponsor at the end of last year, but he quickly added AT&T ( T - news - people ) as the brand on his golf bag. PepsiCo ( PEP - news - people ) launched Gatorade Tiger last year in a revenue-sharing deal that potentially could be very lucrative for Woods. His other biggest endorsement deals include Accenture ( ACN - news - people ), Electronic Arts ( ERTS - news - people ), Gillette and Upper Deck.

It is Nike, though, that has been Woods’ most lucrative partner. The relationship has been hugely beneficial for both parties, as Nike launched a golf division from scratch, with Woods carrying the brand, and sales are now $800 million annually. Nike pays Woods upward of $30 million annually for his ringing endorsement.

The most stunning part is that Woods is only 33 years old–he might have 15 years of competitive golf left in him, and 30-plus years of designing courses. This is only the first billion for Woods.

SRI investors tell Nike “just do it” and resign from US Chamber of Commerce over climate controversy

September 30th, 2009

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by Hugh Wheelan
Responsible Investor
www.responsible-investor.com

US SRI and environmental fund managers, have written to Nike, the sportswear company, urging it to quit the US Chamber of Commerce, the country’s largest business federation, after Nike joined other companies in criticising the Chamber’s opposition to measures tackling climate change. In a letter to Mark Parker, president and chief executive officer of Nike, fund managers Green Century Equity Fund and Newground Social Investment, alongside the Basilian Fathers of Toronto, a catholic religious order, turned Nike’s own slogan “Just do it” on the company, to urge it to quit. It follows a similar resignation this week by Exelon, the largest US nuclear power generator, and two previous resignations by utilities companies, Pacific Gas & Electric and PNM Resources. This week, Nike and Johnson & Johnson, the household products group, both criticised the chamber for its refusal to back cap-and-trade legislation proposed by the Obama administration. The US Chamber of Commerce has three million members and describes itself as the world’s largest business organisation. It has been increasingly vocal in recent months on climate change and corporate governance issues, pitting it notably against SRI investors. Last month, a senior chamber official proposed a “Scopes monkey trial of the 21st century” to evaluate global warming, referring to the 1925 trial conviction of John Scopes, a Tennessee teacher, for teaching evolution rather than the Bible’s version of creation. In July, US SRI firms and advisors attacked as “fatally flawed” a report published by the Chamber that claimed that shareholder proposals at corporate AGMs showed no clear evidence of short- or long-term improvements in operating or stock market performance of target firms and could be placing trustees in breach of their fiduciary duty under ERISA guidelines.
One SRI advisor, Creative Investment Research, invited signatories to the $18 trillion United Nations Principles for Responsible Investment to write to the Securities & Exchange Commission (SEC) to point out what it said were problems of bias with the research and to lobby against its influence on future SEC policy on shareholder voting.

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Check Out the Latest Additions to Team Sweat

September 25th, 2009

Team Sweat:

Here are comments from some of Team Sweat’s newest members.

Enjoy!

Peace, Jim Keady

nytimes-photo-crop1

I want to help end exploitation NOW!
- Elizabeth Ortlieb

(I’m) against Nike’s sweatshops!!!!
- Fajar Botex

I want to make trade fair and stop the worker abuse.
- Oi

Ever since my freshmen year of high school, I have been heavily involved in social justice. I have worked with United Students Against Sweatshops (USAS) and have also founded our school’s first social justice group. Not only have we informed students about the many injustices which is occurring throughout the world, we have joined in on actions against Chipotle’s “Food with dignity” slogan (hypocrisy). “Behind The Swoosh” has just made me even more motivated to fight against greedy companies like Nike.
-Jeffery Tso

I hate to see injustice like this. I want to buy Nike running shoes as they’re a good product, but I won’t on principle due to the worker’s conditions.
- William R Aldridge

(I joined Team Sweat) because I want to help make a difference.
- Tara Johnson

As a fellow human it is disturbing to me to see the attitude of a corporate giant towards another human being. To whom much is given much is required. Those in a place of leadership and power should be the example of what to do and how to treat your fellow human. They should be living with a higher standard. It is disgraceful and saddens me to see this.
- Trey Brush

I don’t often use Nike equipment but I’m shocked by the treatment reported in the Phedipidations interview. I’m sending my email to (Nike CEO) Mark Parker now!
- David Yelland

I heard you guys on Phedippidations and I want to add my name to (the campaign). I can’t do much but I am sure I can drum up interest amongst my friends and community and we could send postcards as you suggest. Also if purchasing a t-shirt can help I can do that and show others. I can generally make your cause known with whomever I meet especially in some of the independent running stores I visit and direct them to the website. I hope that maybe of some use to you.

Cheers, Matt

I have long avoided purchases of NIKE products because of their unfair labor practices. I am happy to hear of your organization through Steve Runner and am glad to join the fight!
- Susanna McDonald

I heard about you on Phedipidations. I like your style and agree with your message. I am a Buddhist who respects people of true continence and conviction when it comes to making this world a better place for all to live in. You are doing this and I would like to support you in whatever small way i can. Thank you for your efforts.
- Dan Harrell

(I joined Team Sweat) because I’m disappointed in the way Nike treats their workers in the third world.
- Kevin Hicks

(I joined Team Sweat because I) listened to the Phidipidations podcast. Good luck.
- Robert Harris

I just listened to Steve Runners podcast. Very enlightening. I’m posting TeamSweat.org on my website.
- Connie Roush

I wanted to pass on to you a promo that I produced. It is made of audio clips of college students and one worker from videos on your site, as well as portions of the interview with Steve Runner last week.

Please feel free to use it in any way that you wish. This is MY way of gettin my voice out ther.

You can find the audio at http://runningthestraightandnarrow.podbean.com .

Running the Straight and Narrow,
Steven Platt

I was moved by Jim’s presentation in my class at Temple University today 9-14-09. Every human being deserves to earn a living wage. Lets end this slavery!!
- Alexis Burgner

Have been listening to Steve Runner discuss this the past few weeks. Disturbing stuff. So, I want to be educated first. Then i can make informed decision as to what level I support Team Sweat and/or Nike. I don’t think someone should blindly become active without knowing what they are supporting.
- Rich Davey

I joined Team Sweat because just after I bought myself a nice Nike jacket I found out about the terrible things they are doing by taking advantage of their workers. It makes me sad that I had unknowingly contributed to a terrible company waging terrible crimes upon humanity. I will not buy another Nike product until I can do so without aiding them in these crimes.
- Nathan Bunting

I just heard about it on episode of Phidipations by Steve Runner on my run today and decided to check it out on my own. While I havent been a big consumer of Nike products, I do have some. I totally agree any corporation making millions in profits, paying spokespeople billions, (spending) billions in advertising can be responsible and pay all their workers a livable wage and make sure anyone making their products is treated fairly. Too much corporate greed is ruining this country.
- Bruce McIntosh

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Posted in Consumers

Marathon Runner #3 Speaks out on Nike’s Sweatshops

September 25th, 2009

Team Sweat:

Here’s another marathon runner telling Nike CEO, Mark Parker to “Just Do It” with regard to workers’ rights. Check out his photo and how he has covered up the Nike “swooshes” with tape.

Peace, Jim Keady

peter-gerngross

Mr Parker,

I am writing this e-mail to inform you that I will not buy any more Nike products until an independent organization like TeamSweat acknowledges a significant improvement of working conditions in Nike’s factories in Southeast Asia.

I live in Germany and have been a serious runner since 12 years. I have always worn your shoes and apparel. In fact, my first serious running shoes were a pair of Nike Air Edge Max, and I loved them. Currently my favorite shoes are my Nike Air Zoom Elite, which I wore during three Marathon races. I also like my pair of Nike Free because of the barefoot feeling.

I would love to buy their respective successors when my old ones will be worn off, but I can’t.

Research by the people of TeamSweat, an organization founded by Jim Keady, showed the miserable living conditions of the people who make the Nike products in your factories in Indonesia. When I saw the video “Behind The Swoosh” and read about Jim’s work I asked myself two questions:

1. Wouldn’t the people be worse off if they hadn’t these underpaid jobs at Nike? Obviously there are no better jobs there. My answer: Yes, they would be worse off. But not much worse. And Nike as the market leader would have the opportunity to make their lives better. Just use some of the money you would otherwise pay to celebrities like Jordan or Woods to increase the wages of the factory workers. So, in my eyes, Nike is not responsible for the poor living conditions in Indonesia, but you are responsible for not improving those conditions.

2. Why accuse Nike and not all the other companies that do the same? The answer: I know that other companies also pay very low wages and have their workers spend long hours in the factories. But you have to start somewhere. Nike is the market leader, so TeamSweat focuses on Nike. Bad luck for you! But you have the choice: pay your workers decently, and you will improve both their lives and your company image considerably.

The awareness of poor working conditions in developing countries is growing in Germany. Small companies like the Hamburg-based running store company Lunge (www.lunge.com , www.lunge.de ) build own factories in Germany because they recognized the poor quality of shoes made in the sweat shops. They are very successful with their high-quality clear-conscience not-at-all-fancy shoes. The running community is big and well connected. News about the behavior of companies like Nike, whether bad (today) or good (tomorrow?) will spread like wildfire.

Use your power to make the world better! I want to buy a brand new pair or Nike Free as soon as possible. Today this is impossible for me.

Kind regards,

Peter Gerngross

Marathon Runner #2 Speaks out on Nike’s Sweatshops

September 25th, 2009

Team Sweat:

The following letter was sent this week to Nike CEO, Mark Parker. Check out the photo of the author with tape over his Nike swooshes.

Peace, Jim Keady

team-sweat1
Mr. Parker,

I am contacting you as a long time fan of Nike products that has recently been enlightened to some aspects of the Nike Corp. that do not make me feel comfortable wearing and supporting the brand.

As a long distance runner, I have always turned to Nike for the latest in shoe technology. As I use three pairs of running shoes a year, I can always count on Nike to provide the most advanced, and comfortable shoe. I have grown up on the Nike brand and believed I shared the same values of my hero Steve Prefontaine and the corporation; strive to be the best and never give up.

I recently watched a short film at Teamsweat.org; I believe you are familiar with this group, which had some very enlightening details regarding Nike working conditions outside of the U.S. The movie was disturbing to say the least, and I would think that a powerhouse company like Nike would have the power, financial backing and SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITY to change the culture of these business practices. If not Nike, then who? I understand this is outsourced work, but I would think that Nike would align itself with companies that share like-minded standards.

I find it extremely awkward and alarming that Nike would pay millions of dollars to professional athletes to sponsor Nike in the US, who do not need the money, and not pay the workers manufacturing the products across seas enough to afford a decent meal.

I have heard the argument that Nike has made improvements to these conditions, but I am having trouble locating information regarding the improvements. I believe that this information should be available to the public. Is there documentation that will dispute Teamsweat.org point on Nike’s unfair labor practices? I would like to be open-minded about this, but the evidence thus far is overwhelming against Nike.

I hope to hear back from you soon. I am running the Chicago Marathon on October 11, 2009, an event that has Nike as a sponsor. It will be the last event that I volunteer for that is sponsored by Nike if I do not see that improvements have been made. I also plan on wearing a well broken in pair of Nike shoes for that marathon. Unfortunately; I will be placing a piece of duct tape over the swoosh on my Air Zooms and all other visible swooshes on my apparel. If questioned, I will spread the word about the video I saw and how Nike treats the people making their product. I know that this campaign will pale in comparison to your high priced golf pros and other athletes that peddle your product, but if I can raise awareness to just one of my 40,000 fellow runners on the racecourse, I will be at peace with myself. As someone who ran 6 marathons last year, and 9 in the last three years, and many, many other races, I will be covering a lot of mileage with my message.

I look forward to hearing from you soon.

Best regards,

Mark Moniuszko

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Posted in Consumers, News

Converse Nears Billion Dollar Mark Under Nike Umbrella

September 1st, 2009

Surfersvillage Global Surf News: Converse widened its gap over the other brands in the Nike, Inc. subsidiary portfolio for the fiscal year ended May 31 and looks to be poised to reach the billion dollar mark in the current year.  Converse posted a 12.6% increase in revenues for the fiscal 2009 year, reaching $915.3 million for the year.  The details were outlined in the Nike, Inc. form 10-K filed with the SEC.  Converse fiscal 2008 revenues amounted to $729.0 million.

Nike, Inc. acquired Converse in 2003 in a deal worth $305 million.  Converse reported full year revenues of $205 million in the year ended December 31, 2002. Nike Golf  lost ground in the market in the last fiscal year, posting a 10.6% decrease in revenues for the year to $648.3 million from $725.2 million in the prior-year period.  Cole Haan also posted a decline for the year, with revenues dipping 5.0% to $471.6 million from $496.2 million in fiscal 2008.

Hurley revenues jumped 18.6% to $202.9 million for the year from $171.1 million in the prior year and Umbro posted $174.0 million in revenues under the NKE umbrella for the year versus just $53.9 million for the brand for the three months ended May 31, 2008.  Nike, Inc. acquired Umbro in March 2008 for approximately $576.4 million.

The overall NKE subsidiary business dipped under one percent for the year, due primarily to the divestiture of Nike Bauer Hockey and Starter.

Stalwart Nike Ranks Last for Corporate Governance

September 1st, 2009

Oregon’s best-known company also has the worst track record for corporate governance.

Washington County’s Nike Inc. scores 5.1 on a scale of one to 100 for its governance practices, according to RiskMetrics Group, meaning it ranks below nearly 95 percent of its peers.

While Nike scores near the bottom of the list, however, some local companies, including Umpqua Bank, have established themselves as national leaders for corporate governance.

Rockville, Md.-based RiskMetrics annually ranks the corporate governance practices of the nation’s biggest companies. The rankings measure the independence and strength of each company’s board, the effectiveness of the company’s auditors and the reasonableness of executive and director compensation policies.

Institutional investors — the bulk of the nation’s stock pickers — rely on such studies to make informed investment decisions.

“Sometimes, corporate governance is the main driving factor in … investing decisions,” said Monica Poveda, a portfolio manager with Portland-based Allen Trust Co. “It’s the same thing as clients who want to make socially responsible investments.”

Nike scores near the bottom of the list largely because of the structure of its stock.

The company operates under a dual-class stock structure, with too many “supervoting” shares held closely by insiders, said Paul Wanner, RiskMetrics’ director of governance rankings.

Phil Knight, Nike’s chairman, owns 96.4 percent of Nike’s Class A stock, and Class A shareholders get to choose nine of Nike’s 12 board directors.

Wanner said the system, at least in Nike’s case, is used as an “entrenchment device” to maintain control of the company. The dual-class capital structure is Nike’s biggest negative.

Nike also fails to disclose, at least transparently, stock ownership for executives and directors. Knight, the company’s former chairman and CEO, also continues serving as a director, another negative.

“We feel that directors appointed under the previous regime might have a loyalty to that CEO, so we’d prefer the previous CEO be gone completely,” Wanner said. “That way, the focus is on holding the new executives at the company accountable, not serving the interests of the CEO who may have appointed them.”

Wanner’s also concerned that Nike doesn’t have a policy on “overboarding,” or preventing directors from serving on too many boards.

The company’s dismal ranking could also result from its peers performing so well. Companies are ranked relative to peers, meaning Nike is ranked alongside the nation’s biggest companies.

“The Standard & Poor’s 500 index has the higher market-cap companies, which are always going to have better governance practices than smaller or micro-cap companies,” Wanner said. “That’s why even though their level is only around 5 when compared against their peers, they’re in the middle when compared against their sector.”

Despite the company’s dismal ranking, it continues to outperform the market and is historically one of the state’s strongest stocks. Since Jan. 1 of last year, it’s down 11.6, compared to a 29.7 percent drop in the Dow Jones Industrial Average.

Nike didn’t return a call for comment.

By and large, Oregon companies performed quite well in the corporate governance rankings. Twenty-one of the largest 25 Oregon public companies performed better than others within their industry peer groups.

Oregon’s two largest banks — Umpqua Bank and West Coast Bank — fared best.

Portland-based Umpqua performs better than 99.8 percent of its peers, while Lake Oswego-based West Coast Bank performs better than 99.1 percent of its peers.

Report: Meeting at Jakarta Legal Aid Foundation

July 23rd, 2009

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Team Sweat: 

Yesterday afternoon I met with 17 comrades representing 12 different NGOs (non-governmental organizations) and trade unions at the Jakarta Legal Aid Foundation (LBH). We met to discuss a number of issues, including: the current activities of Team Sweat, both in Indonesia and the USA; creating a broad vision and strategy for engaging Nike on the conditions of workers in Indonesia; preparations for a meeting today with Caitlin Morris, Nike’s Director of Innovation and Sustainability; and coordination of worker meetings and field research for the two weeks I will be in Indonesia. 

Along with the issues mentioned above, we also had a lively discussion on the history of the campaign work done on the Nike sweatshop issue in Indonesia as well as how to best move forward in our future campaigning. From our conversation, it became clear that much of what has been done by Nike and has been reported on by the press regarding Nike’s “social responsibility” has been window dressing that has distracted both unions and NGOs from what should be our core activities: educating and organizing workers; and using organized worker power to pressure Nike to truly be responsible for their labor force in Indonesia. 

The three key demands that we must maintain our focus on are: 

1. Living wages; 
2. Guaranteeing freedom of association when workers want to organize, join and/or be active with trade unions; 
3. Establishing collective bargaining agreements to which the unions, the factory owners, and Nike are all legally bound. 

For those who are not as familiar with the history of the Nike sweatshop issue in Indonesia, during the period of 1995-2002, these were the issues on which we focused and with sustained pressure, both in Indonesia and through international solidarity, gains were made. We need to get back to these, remain focused, and push forward towards victory for the workers who are producing the real wealth for Nike. 

Ok, that is today’s update. Tomorrow I will write with a report on the meeting with Nike’s Caitlin Morris. 

Solidaritas! 

Peace, Jim Keady

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Posted in News

U.N. Expert Raises Doubts on Factory Monitoring

June 12th, 2009
Team Sweat: 

The article below edifies the position that I have been taking on factory monitoring for the past few years. When corporate monitoring initiatives were first discussed in the late 90s, I held out hope that they might be an effective means for improving the lives of workers. Time has shown that they are not and the article below very succinctly explains why. 

To truly improve the lives of NIke’s factory workers, we must continue to push the debate away from “monitoring” and bring it back to a discussion on collective bargaining agreements, living wages, factory ownership models, and long term commitments to countries where Nike produces their products. Only when these objectives are achieved will we have reached our goal of ensuring that Nike’s factory workers are being treated with the dignity and respect that they deserve. 

Peace, Jim Keady 

U.N. Expert Raises Doubts on Factory Monitoring
by John Zarocostas
Posted THURSDAY JUNE 04, 2009
From Women’s Wear Daily (www.wwd.com) 
ISSUE 06/04/2009

GENEVA — Business leaders consider monitoring of supply chains and factories for violations of core labor standards to be largely ineffective and unreliable, said the United Nations’ top expert on corporate social responsibility.

“We keep hearing now, from just about everywhere…monitoring doesn’t work,” said John Ruggie, special representative of the U.N. secretary-general for human rights and transnational corporations and other businesses. “Just about everybody, at least off the record, will tell you that monitoring doesn’t work and auditing of supplier factories doesn’t work because people cheat.”

Many companies use either internal monitors or hire outside specialists to conduct inspections of their foreign factories to ensure they are operating under proper labor conditions. This would include working conditions at the factories, as well as auditing to make sure hourly wage and overtime laws are followed.

Ruggie, who submitted a report to the 47-member U.N. Human Rights Council, said the head of a large multinational company told him “up to 70 percent of the audits they get have serious flaws.”

In the report, Ruggie said, “It is often overlooked that suppliers are also companies, subject to the same responsibility to respect human rights as any other business. The challenge for buyers is to ensure they are not complicit in violations by their suppliers. How far down the supply chain a buyer’s responsibility extends depends on what a proper duel diligence process reveals about prevailing country and sector conditions, and about potential business partners and their sourcing practices.”

Ruggie also warned countries and companies against using the economic crisis to loosen up on human rights standards because it “would worsen the backlash against companies.”

Ruggie, who is also professor of international affairs at Harvard University, said some brand-sensitive companies faced with problems “have just simply slammed the door and said they’re not going to do business” with suppliers that have breached core standards.

As for viable options, Ruggie noted that some leading initiatives include the Fair Labor Association, which has decided to take some of the money earmarked for monitoring and use it instead to train factory managers to better oversee the production process and help report problems. In China, the FLA has even started to train state labor inspectors.

“The more brand-visible and the more brand-sensitive the company is, the more resources they put into this problem,” he said.

However, Ruggie said a sustainable solution will have to involve governments.
###

Nike caught in potential conflict of interest case with U.S. Navy

June 10th, 2009

Travel habits prompt conflict of interest concerns 
Center for Public Integrity: 
http://www.publicintegrity.org/ 
By RICHARD
LARDNER 

WASHINGTON (AP) — Pentagon employees have received millions of dollars in free travel and lodging from foreign countries, trade groups and companies with an interest in shaping policies or doing business with the U.S. military.

Defense officials say the arrangement is legal, saves taxpayers money and is carefully monitored to ensure there are no conflicts of interest. But government watchdogs say it allows donors to subtly exert influence for a small investment compared with the potential gain.

Between 1998 and 2007, hundreds of outside sources, including athletic shoemaker Nike Inc., the Chinese government and pharmaceutical giant Johnson & Johnson, footed the bill for more than 22,000 trips at a cost of $26 million, according to an analysis of government travel disclosure records by the Center for Public Integrity in Washington.

Rome, Paris, Rio de Janeiro and Las Vegas were among the destinations. Travelers ranged from four-star officers — one was then-Adm. Dennis Blair, now the Obama administration’s director of national intelligence — to junior enlisted troops.

The Defense Department is allowed to accept paid travel on behalf of employees so they can attend meetings, conferences and other functions. The event must be related to an employee’s official duties and has to be beneficial to the military. Employees cannot solicit trips.

“We have a fiscal responsibility to take every opportunity to reduce government expenses on travel,” said Eric Rishel, a senior attorney in the Pentagon general counsel’s office.

But Winslow Wheeler, director of the Straus Military Reform Project at the Center for Defense Information, says the Defense Department, which has an annual budget of more than $500 billion, should pay its own way to eliminate the perception of any impropriety.

“This isn’t even pocket change for the Pentagon,” Wheeler said of the $26 million. “It’s loose money under the couch cushions.”

The analysis provided to the Associated Press by the Center for Public Integrity, a Washington-based investigative journalism organization, describes a sometimes-inconsistent review process that has led to questionable trips.

In one 2005 example highlighted by the center, Richard J. Millies, then a senior Pentagon official overseeing foreign weapons sales, and his wife flew first-class to Saudi Arabia. They spent eight days there enjoying camel races, banquets and a musical production.

The entire $24,000 tab was paid by the oil-rich Saudis, a major buyer of U.S.-made military gear.

Millies no longer works as deputy director of the Defense Security Cooperation Agency; he is vice president of international strategy and business development at BAE Systems, a major defense contractor.

Millies defended the visit as an important opportunity to exchange information. Turning down the invitation, he said, would have offended the Saudis.

“Hospitality is very important in Arab cultures,” he told the center.

Kay Cannon, the agency’s general counsel, said Millies’ trip was “thoroughly vetted and approved.”

Foreign governments sponsored 1,500 trips worth $2.6 million. Australia, Singapore and Japan were the leaders, with China, Russia and the United Arab Emirates also paying for travel.

In March 2001, Blair, then commander of U.S. Pacific Command, took a $3,600 trip to China paid by the Chinese. Blair, who retired from the military in 2002, now oversees the nation’s intelligence operations.

Michael Birmingham, a spokesman for Blair, said the visit was a “military to military” exchange that complied fully with the rules and reporting requirements. He said it’s customary for a U.S. official to accept accommodations and meals when a host country invites that person on official business. As with the Saudis, Birmingham said, it would be rude to say no.

Commercial firms selling goods and services to the military also provided similar largess. Retail firms focused on managers at the military’s vast network of base exchanges that sell clothes, shoes and electronics to service members, the analysis found.

Nike spent more than $80,000 on nearly 100 trips by Navy merchandise managers for displays of product lines. Skechers USA Inc., another shoe manufacturer, toy maker Mattel Inc. and electronics titan Sony Corp. also paid for trips taken by buyers and managers from military exchanges.

Medical companies, trade groups and professional associations sponsored 8,700 trips at a cost of more than $10 million — nearly 40 percent of the total. Employees in the military’s sprawling pharmacy system, which buys billions of dollars in prescription drugs each year, accounted for 400 of those trips at a cost of nearly $400,000.

Dr. Adriane Fugh-Berman, an associate professor at Georgetown University’s medical school, says drug makers and medical device companies view the trips as tools for persuading doctors and pharmacists to use their products.

“It creates the illusion of a partnership,” said Fugh-Berman, who studies the influence of pharmaceutical companies. “And there shouldn’t be a partnership between government and industry.”

Medtronic, a multibillion-dollar medical technology company, spent $93,000 on 86 trips. Fifteen of those, totaling more than $13,000, were taken between 2001 and 2006 by Dr. Timothy R. Kuklo, a surgeon who became a Medtronic consultant after retiring from the military in 2007.

The company recently suspended its agreement with Kuklo after an Army investigation revealed he falsified information in a medical journal article that overstated the benefits of a drug sold by Medtronic to treat combat-related bone injuries.

Marybeth Thorsgaard, a Medtronic spokeswoman, said military physicians, and ultimately their patients, benefit from attending conferences and training sessions the company sponsors. When Medtronic pays, travelers are required to sign an agreement stating government rules are being followed.

The travel records, submitted by the Defense Department in paper form to the U.S. Office of Government Ethics, were digitized and sorted in a joint project by the Center and Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism.

Craig Holman of Public Citizen in Washington said this is the first public and searchable database of the records. “We’re going to get a good look inside and see if there are any abuses,” he said.

Why can’t Nike “Just Do It?”

June 9th, 2009

By Michael Marlowe

Originally posted at: www.sharedleadership.com

For the past decade Nike’s business journey is characterized by two distinctive qualities - business growth and learning to take responsibility. Since 2003 they have exceeded the Dow, split their stock in 2007 and weathered the global financial crisis better than most. They are now reclaiming their former wealth showing an aggressive steady climb over the last six months. This is a testament to Nike’s sound business basics, good products and superb marketing.

Nike is one of the pioneers of outsourcing manufacturing overseas. This is one of their major engines for profit. Cheap labor allows for high profit margins in shoes and apparel. Over the last twenty years they have moved manufacturing to various countries to catch the wave of the lowest labor costs. Today it is estimated that their supply chain funds the employment of over 800,000 people primarily located in Malaysia, Indonesia, Vietnam,Thailand and China. 

During 1990’s Nike held center stage as a company whose partners engaged in child labor, employee abuses, and sweatshop working conditions. Nike’s initial response was characterized by adamant denial and aggressive self-defense. They did not own the manufacturing and could not be held responsible for labor practices in countries outside the United States. This was legally and technically true. Human rights activists had another view. For the next decade Nike would engage in a policy of monitoring and beleaguered enforcement of violations against Nike’s Code of Conduct.

In 2006 Nike made a bold move to be more transparent and turned over its monitoring data to Richard Locke of MIT’s Sloan School. Locke spent three months just organizing the data, which suggested to him that Nike had not been trying to actively learn from it. Locke’s final conclusions would state that despite “significant efforts and investments by Nike … workplace conditions in almost 80% of its suppliers have either remained the same or worsened over time.”

Expanding Corporate Responsibility

Today Nike is engaged in new series of projects, which are bringing results to the bottom line and external accolades from environmentalists. Using quality methodology and new design techniques they are committed to reduce over $800 million dollars of annual product waste and to use environmentally friendly materials. This led to Nike being rated third in the top 100 companies in 2008 committed to Corporate Social Responsibility. (However in 2009 they dropped to 23 primarily based on CRO placing more weight on human rights.)

Even more significant, Eguenia Levinson in her article Citizen Nike reports that for the first time Nike is thinking about its deeper connection to it’s supply chain. Nike is realizing that as they make decisions they drive behavior inside manufacturing plants.  

When the employees in Beaverton, Oregon link themselves and their work processes to their outsourcing partners plants, a new set of possibilities are open for consideration. Seeing the creation of a shoe as a full process and specifically seeing how design decisions directly impact manufacturing is new to Nike’s way of thinking. Further learning how the use of hazardous glues effects safety in plants or even how last minute design changes or delays impact schedules and drive overtime and working conditions inside plants sometimes leading to Code of Conduct violations. This is a tremendous leap from twenty years ago when they said they had no connection to their manufacturing partners. This learning brings about another level of cooperation and responsibility.

Leadership Bubble of Self-Interest

Yet Nike’s business still operates within the bubble of self-interest. This is the predominate filter which drives what possibilities are open for consideration. Now to be fair, Nike is no different than their competitors or the majority of American businesses. What we are learning from Nike’s behavior and other companies engaged in sustainability efforts is that there is room for change. The bubble of self interest can be expanded, if and when the new behavior is carefully couched in terms of how this is “good for business.”

An expansion of the bubble of self-interest for any business is a significant change in the right direction, especially in the area of sustainable growth practices. However this stance still limits a company’s ability to explore other options.

The prime example of this is paying “living wages.” For the past fifteen years Nike has refused to consider setting the standard in it’s Code of Conduct to pay living wages to it’s workers. They do agree to pay the country’s minimum wage. However, in many countries minimum wage does not equate to living wages. It is a known fact that many countries like Indonesia arbitrarily set minimum wage low to attract foreign companies.  

A second example is seeing the connection between competitive outsourcing, based on driving lower prices, and how it drives specific work practices in a factory. Richard Read of the Oregonian wrote specifically about this issue last August. In his article he quotes Jeffrey Ballinger, a longtime anti-Nike activist, who says “If Nike put four factories in competition for 100,000 Air-whatever shoes, they can’t go back and say, ‘Give the workers Saturdays off,’ because the contractor needs to make money.” Scott Nova, the executive director of the Worker Rights Consortium which monitors labor rights in foreign countries who says “factory owners are being asked to do two mutually contradictory things: improve standards and cut prices. The factories do everything they possibly can to hold down labor costs, and they hope nobody catches them for violating labor standards.” This is another example how the competitive nature of the stance of self-interest sustains extremely negative working conditions.

The stance of self-interest also drives behavior and prevents people or companies from direct involvement in learning and discovery. 

If we go back ten to fifteen years when Nike began their more active inquiry into the state of working conditions, the did so by hiring outside resources to do the work for them. As they began to learn more of what was happening, they would put plants on notice. Much as a health inspector might do.  Their initial follow-up cleared up the worse cases of sweatshop management and child labor. However until recently their follow-up always been characterized by patience.

Nowhere is it documented that a practice evolved in Nike for executives or even middle level managers to go to their manufacturing facilities and for a week or even a day work the same jobs, under the same conditions, with the same hours as the women on the factory floor. 

It would seem that a decade of slow to little change might have sped up considerably if one executive had personally experienced breathing problems, chemical skin irritations, suffered from heat stroke or exhaustion, been verbally or physically harassed. No executive at Nike has tried to live on a weekly wage that is paid in the factories. 

Nor it is documented anywhere that a regular practice of surveying employees or holding focus groups with employees and learning from this data is used. It would seem the authentic listening or interviewing of employees has been left to journalists and human rights activists. Historically Nike has relied on other measures having factories self report the age of employees, hours worked, overtime, pay practices and days off. More recently they focus on safety practices and air quality.

Behaviors that create high contact and connection are consistent with abandoning self-interest and adopting a true learning position, which in turns always leads to being influenced. The value of the stance of self-interest is that it limits the influence others have on you, because you are less connected and your are committed to certain ways of doing business which are unquestioned.

Nike is now recognized as a leader in Corporate Social Responsibility. Yet today we have a host of global problems, which cannot be solved by institutions that operate from a stance of self-interest, even Nike’s more expanded version of self-interest.

Self-Interest and the Millennium Development Goals

I would imagine that only a handful of American and European business executives could name the United Nations’ Millennium Goals and a many would not even know what the Millennium Goals are. Why should they? The Millennium Goals are not in their bubble of self-interest. To directly support the Millennium Goals requires people (leaders) and institutions (governments and businesses) to step out of their bubble of self-interest. 

The Millennium Development Goals are End Poverty and Hunger, Universal Education, Gender Equality, Child Health, Maternal Health, Combat HIV/AIDS, Environmental Sustainability, and Global Partnership.

Nike’s improvement projects do contribute directly to Environmental Sustainability. At the same time their unwillingness to dialogue and take responsibility for not paying living wages directly contributes to the status quo of sustaining poverty and preventing gender equality (remember that 80% of the people who produce NIKE shoes and apparel are young women) Without the active involvement of business, countries are not capable of meeting the Millennium Development Goals. The problems are too large, too complex, too interconnected.

Nike is the market leader controlling approximately 45% of the global market in shoes. They have a growing revenue stream of 18.6 billion dollars, a sales increase of 52% since 2004, a gross margin of 45%, and a net income of 1.88 billion.  

So why can’t Nike “Just Do It?”

In regards to working conditions Nike says they personally can’t shift industry conditions, without help from other companies, governments and workers’ rights groups. According to Erin Dobson, Nike’s director of corporate-responsibility communications. “The real way to address this is for the brands to collaborate and agree on a core set of standards. Our monitors aren’t going to catch everything.” Of course the deeper fear, which has been stated over the last fifteen years, in more direct ways, is that by paying living wage without competitors agreeing to the same standards Nike will lose some of its competitive advantage.

Yet there is nothing preventing Nike from creating a goal to wherever possible award contracts to companies who pay living wage. Of course this might be in direct conflict with their goal of awarding contracts to the suppliers who bid at the lowest cost in and industry, which competes on the low cost of its labor. Ironically because Nike is dominates the market many of its competitors copy or follow its lead. Companies like Adidas frequently award contracts to the same suppliers Nike already is using. Since Nike has never experimented with paying living wage their fear is untested. The industry may follow. Nike might generate extraordinary good will leading to increased sales and customer loyalty.

Nike just doesn’t do it because they still work within a bubble of self-interest surrounded by an industry, which operates in a larger bubble of self-interest. And currently the pressure is off on human rights. The public has cooled to this issue in regards to Nike and there halo of good will created by Nike’s aggressively publicized their green efforts does not invite criticism. So in large part Nike doesn’t do it because we don’t ask them to do it.

 So how does all this change. The answer is through one person at a time. The degree of freedom for CEO’s to operate in a larger field of self interest is proven by Nike. However it is only when leaders abandon self-interest for themselves and their companies that we see a new form of leadership emerge. In this form of leadership business success is possible as negative cycles of harm to the environment and humans cease, and being of service to becomes a predominate characteristic

 A Lesson in Leadership 

The Haudenosaunee or as they are more commonly known The Iroquois Confederacyunderstoodthe importance of leaders abandoning self interest. Each new chief followed these principles and was held accountable by the people of the tribes. They were told:

In all of your deliberations in the Confederate Council, in your efforts at law making, in all your official acts, self interest shall be cast into oblivion.  Cast not over your shoulder behind you the warnings of the nephews and nieces should they chide you for any error or wrong you may do, but return to the way of the Great Law that is just and right.  Look and listen for the welfare of the whole people and have always in view not only the present but also the coming generations, even those whose faces are yet beneath the surface of the ground — the unborn of the future Nation.

Nike linked to destruction of Amazon rainforest

June 9th, 2009

Just-Style.com. June 1, 2009

Top sports and fashion brands including Gucci, Adidas/Reebok, Timberland, Geox, Clarks and Nike, have been accused of contributing to the destruction of the Amazon rainforest by using leather from cattle reared on farms responsible for deforestation.

The allegations by environmental campaign group Greenpeace follow a three-year investigation into links between Brazil’s booming cattle industry and some of Britain’s biggest-selling brands.

“Running shoes, handbags and ready meals aren’t normally associated with rainforest destruction and climate change, but we’ve found a smoking gun,” Greenpeace forest campaigner Sarah Shoraka.

“This new evidence shows how UK companies are driving the destruction of the Amazon by buying beef and leather products from unscrupulous suppliers in Brazil.”

Greenpeace says cattle ranching in the Amazon region is now the single biggest cause of deforestation in the world, and the expansion of this industry is being driven by the global export market.

Its new report, entitled ‘Slaughtering the Amazon’ tracks beef and leather products from ranches involved in illegal deforestation back to the supply chains of sports and fashion brands.

The report also accuses the Brazilian government of bankrolling the destruction and undermining efforts to tackle the global climate crisis.

Greenpeace says Chinese tanneries supplied by Brazilian cattle giant Bertin produce trainers for Nike and Adidas/Reebok.

Bertin also supplies leather to the two leading Italian processors (Rino Mastrotto Group and Gruppo Mastrotto) whose customers include Boss, Geox, Gucci, Hilfiger, Louis Vuitton and Prada.

None of the companies contacted by just-style today (1 June) was able to comment.

Greenpeace is now calling on companies to stop purchasing from Brazilian suppliers who refuse to commit to cleaning up their supply chains and must support a moratorium on all deforestation for cattle ranching.

Nike spent $120,000.00 on lobbying in 4th quarter

June 9th, 2009

WASHINGTON (AP) - Nike Inc. spent $120,000 in the fourth quarter to lobby on physical education, trade and other matters, according to a recent disclosure report.

The Beaverton, Ore.-based athletic shoe and apparel company also lobbied on issues involving cyber security, patent reform and other business concerns.

Besides Congress, Nike lobbied the U.S. Trade Representative and the departments of Health and Human Services, State and Treasury during the January-March period, according to the report filed April 20 with the House clerk’s office.

Copyright 2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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More consumers join the fight against Nike’s sweatshops

June 3rd, 2009

Team Sweat:

Here are more consumers that have joined the fight against Nike’s sweatshop abuses. If you would like to speak out as well, send Team Sweat a message with your comment.

Peace, Jim Keady

I saw (Behind the Swoosh) and I really want to help the workers get fair wage.
- Katie

I think Nike is very S*CK!! It’s the most capitalism product I ever known…
- Kristina Grani (Indonesia)

First of all, I’m from Indonesia and there’s a lot of people from my country that work on this GIANT CORPORATION called NIKE who have become a victim rather than a worker. Victim of deception, tricking, and insulting us as a human - who have been attacking by tens of years without knowing their rights as a worker. without knowing their rights as a human, without knowing their future has been robbed by a big big greedy giant corporation. I’m joining TEAM SWEAT to let international people know that there’s a big case of human right violation that this “BIG GREEDY GIANT CORPORATION” that have been done by tens year and counting. And until now, all the worker in here still didn’t get any rights as a human or as a worker it self from serving “the big greedy giant corporation.” By joining this team, I wish it’ll be brings a progress and hope for them.
- Boyd Soedargo

Today more than ever what is needed in the world is a sense of CONSCIENCE. When human beings are being exploited and forced to live in sub-human conditions so that other people may live in luxury this is a sin that cries to the heavens. For all the invisible, voiceless people who are enslaved by this practice I pray that the eyes and hearts of those causing the enslavement may be opened and changed.
- Sister Beth Woodward, IHM

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Students ask UW to pressure Nike on severance pay issue

May 15th, 2009


UW Police Department officers negotiate with Student Labor Action Project protestors about bringing signs into Gerberding Hall yesterday.

THE DAILY of the University of Washington
By Morgan Gard
May 7, 2009

Just a little more than a month ago, the UW celebrated an apparent victory
for international labor rights after direct intervention brought about
severance payments to almost 1,000 laid-off workers in Guatemala.

UW Police Department officers negotiate with Student Labor Action Project
protestors about bringing signs into Gerberding Hall yesterday.

Yesterday, some 30 members of the Student Labor Action Project (SLAP)
gathered in Red Square before entering Gerberding Hall to ask UW President
Mark Emmert once again to protest poor treatment of factory workers
producing UW apparel worldwide.

“Two unionized factories that produced logo apparel for the UW for Nike …
shut down in January,” said SLAP member George Robertson. “And workers weren’t
paid their legally owed severance pay, so $1.5 million is stilled owed to
these workers.”

Nike, like all UW licensees, agrees to a code of conduct, a major
stipulation of which is that workers get paid all legally mandated benefits.
In Honduras, part of that is severance pay for workers when a factory
closes.

“The fact that these workers have gone unpaid is a violation of that code of
conduct,” Robertson said.

The first step, Robertson said, is for the UW to notify Nike that it has
violated the code of conduct and not re-sign the licensing contract with the
company — which is set to expire in July — until Nike has at least made a
“good-faith move” in getting the workers paid.

SLAP is also trying to make sure these violations happen less frequently by
having a student voice at the negotiating table with UW licensees and UW
Trademarks and Licensing.

“SLAP has direct contact with workers all over the world,” said SLAP member
Amanda Alice. “So bringing a student voice, we would be representing workers
as well as our own interests as students.”

Alice said violations, such as the Nike dispute, are a direct result of
students and SLAP members not being included in the contract and negotiating
process.

However, Director of UW Trademarks and Licensing Kathy Hoggan said the issue
is more complicated, explaining that Nike is as powerless to get these
workers paid as the UW is.

Companies like Nike work with many different factories around the world,
Hoggan said, and with the amount of factories that are closing every day, it
would not be economically feasible for Nike to pay the severance of every
laid-off worker.

“The factory’s closed; they’re out of business because they have no money,”
Hoggan said. “Who are we going to pressure? The University of Washington can’t
pay; we can’t keep our own people employed. Nike can’t pay [the severance];
they can’t float the boat for the whole world.”

Hoggan praised the work of SLAP but insisted that there was nothing that
could be done. Even if the university decided to threaten Nike, renewal of
the contract happens automatically through the Collegiate Licensing Company,
which wrote the code of conduct UW uses, if the company is in good standing.
Schools can opt out of the renewal, but Nike has never been dropped from any
of the approximately 100 schools it licenses with, and Nike’s next six-month
contract extension is expected to go through, according to a press release
from Nike.

“There’s discussions happening in big government offices all over about
‘What are we gonna do with the economy and the unemployment?’” Hoggan said. “And that’s in every country.”

Reach reporter Morgan Gard at news@dailyuw.com.

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Child labor alleged at Nike factory in China

May 15th, 2009

Story from Radio Free Asia
May 12, 2009

HONG KONG—Members of a Chinese minority group sent to work in a shoe factory thousands of miles from home include children, with some parents allegedly coerced into letting them go, workers at the factory have said.

The workers, from China’s largely Muslim Uyghur ethnic group, are employed at Longfa Shoe Factory in China’s southeastern Guangdong province.

The facility currently employs 660 workers through a program known as “Transfer Surplus Workforce Outwards.” More than half of the workers are female, and some 300 are under the age of 18, employees say.

Longfa Shoe Factory is owned by Taiwan-based Dean Shoes Co. Ltd., which supplies Oregon-based U.S. footwear giant Nike, Inc.

While the legal working age in China is 16, Nike’s code of conduct states that its contractors do not “employ any person below the age of 18 to produce footwear.”

Spokesmen for Nike and for Longfa Shoe Factory denied the allegation and said hiring underage workers would violate company policies.

But some workers at the factory say they were sent to work at age 15 or 16. They were supplied with fake identification papers showing earlier birthdates, they said.

Sawut and Abide, Uyghurs originally from China’s northwestern Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR), said that most of the girls were brought to Longfa at age 16 or 17 in three separate groups during March, April, and September of 2008.

“Most of the girls here are 16 or 17. There are many of them like that. You can hardly find girls who are 18—maybe only five or 10 of them,” Sawut said.

“There are more 16-year-old girls here than older ones,” Abide said.

Others working at the factory who asked not to be identified also said they were under the age of 18.

“Today is my 17th birthday. I came here when I was 16, right after junior high,” said one girl.
Another said that she was 16. “I came here April 28 [2008]. It has been nine months and 10 days,” the girl said.

‘No workers under 18’
Longfa Shoes Corp.’s headquarters are located in Longxi town, in Bolo county, near Guangdong’s Huizhou city.

An official of Longfa’s human resources department refused to provide his name when contacted by telephone but denied that the company employed underage workers.
“According to our factory’s hiring policy, workers should be 18 or over. We do not hire workers under 18,” the official said.

“We are a shoe factory, and in terms of working conditions it is not suitable for us to hire child workers. In addition, our customers require the same standards of us. Therefore, we do not hire child workers when possible,” he said.

Nike’s response
“Nike takes these issues seriously and has a code of conduct that all contract factories must sign and adhere to, including a firm policy on age limits and working conditions,” the company said in a prepared statement.

“Nike has visited the Longfa factory in Huizhou, China, and after reviewing monitoring, audits, and interviews with Xinjiang workers we did not find evidence…that Longfa has employed workers under Nike’s minimum code of conduct age of 18 for footwear contract factories,” the statement said.

Kate Meyers, a spokeswoman for Nike Inc., said the company sent staff to investigate the claims about breaches of Nike’s code of conduct.

Meyers said interviews were conducted with approximately 50 workers at the factory from Xinjiang who are bilingual and speak fluent Mandarin, making the use of translators unnecessary.

“While monitoring and audits are not the only way to detect issues, they do give a real time indication of factory conditions,” Nike’s statement said.

Swapping IDs
Officials at companies connected to the labor transfer program may be unaware that they are hiring child laborers, or that they may be complicit in illegal hiring schemes orchestrated by local authorities in the workers’ hometowns, according to some girls.

Meryem, a Uyghur girl worker at Longfa, said government officials arranged for her to swap identification cards with her older sister.

“They told us that 16-year-olds cannot work, so they changed our names. I came here with my older sister’s name. We didn’t want to come here and would rather have stayed with our parents,” she said.

Meryem’s father, Emet Sawut, also says that the local government swapped his daughters’ identification cards.

“I said, ‘My daughter is only 16 years old. She is not eligible to work.’ But the village party secretary Emetjan Yantaq came to our house and said it was okay to change her identification card with her older sister’s,” he said.

When contacted by telephone, Emetjan Yantaq refused to comment.

Emet Sawut said the local government in Opal town, where his family resides, eventually forced his daughter to swap her identification with the threat of cutting off farming subsidies.

“They pressured me, saying, ‘If you do not give us your daughter, we will cancel your government poverty aid,’” Emet Sawut said.

“My older daughter in Karamay city filled the form out for my younger daughter. Then my younger daughter set off [for Guangdong] on April 20, 2008. It [is] one year this April,” he said.

Pashagül, party secretary of Opal town in the XUAR’s Kashgar prefecture, is responsible for transferring local laborers for the program.

She voiced surprise when questioned as to whether the identification cards of children had been swapped with those of other, older residents to increase the town’s number of viable workers.

“Where did you get this news? These questions make me feel uncomfortable. How do you know we did that and how did you get this news?” she asked.

Pashagül declined to comment further.

Labor programs
The U.S. Congressional-Executive Commission on China said in its 2008 annual report that the Chinese government continues to fill local jobs in Xinjiang with migrant labor, while maintaining programs that send young ethnic minorities to work in factories in China’s interior under conditions reported to be “abusive.”

“Local officials, following direction from higher levels of government, have used ‘deception, pressure, and threats’ toward young women and their families to gain recruits into the labor transfer program,” it said.

According to a report by Radio Free Asia, by the end of 2007 hundreds of Uyghur girls, most of them underage, had been forced into labor programs far from their homes in Xinjiang by local officials.

The girls were enrolled in training programs at factories and told they would be paid during their training, but they never received wages.

Most girls were unable to afford the cost of a return trip home, and those who did go back faced fines from hometown officials upon their return, the RFA report said.

Uyghurs constitute a distinct, Turkic-speaking, Muslim minority in northwestern China and Central Asia. They declared a short-lived East Turkestan Republic in Xinjiang in the late 1930s and 40s but have remained under Beijing’s control since 1949.

Original reporting by Mamatjan Juma for RFA’s Uyghur service. Director: Dolkun Kamberi. Written for the Web in English by Joshua Lipes. Edited by Sarah Jackson-Han.

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Students from across the nation have joined the fight against Nike’s sweatshop abuses

May 13th, 2009

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Students from Brebeuf Jesuit Prep and Marian College join the fight against Nike’s sweatshops

May 13th, 2009

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More Consumers Join the Fight Against Nike’s Sweatshops

May 7th, 2009

Team Sweat:

More consumers have joined the fight against Nike’s sweatshop abuses. If you would like your voice to be heard and for Nike to know what you think, send an email to info@teamsweat.org.

Peace, Jim Keady

I went to CBA, heard Jim talk at my senior retreat, and it really made me aware.
- Luke Harold

NIKE=CAPITALIST
-Java13

I am disgusted with Nike and their multimillion dollar athletes, making all that money and they pay workers (less than $3) a day…Disgraceful.
- Kevin Hanlon

I am so glad that I was able to meet such an inspirational person in my lifetime. James Keady is truly and absolutely the best speaker I have heard so far because of his undeniable compassion and devotion to make this world a better place for all human beings, regardless of nationality, race or religion.

I am a Temple University business student, and upon watching a short movie about Keady’s experience in Indonesia, I realized how powerful can be the voice of just one man. Subsequentlsy, the more voices you have, the more leverage there is to promote your idea. I was sitting in the very front of the class, which allowed me to see the kind of passion and dedication this man has for justice. I applaude you James and am excited to join this campaign, contributing as much as I can at this time.

Best Regards,
Kamila Sharipova

I joined Team Sweat because I think it’s disgusting to see millionare athletes enjoy endorsement money, while Nike employees in Indonesia can’t even afford to feed themselves, let alone their children on the extremely small salary that they make.
-Chelsey

I joined Team Sweat because I’m an athlete at a Jesuit high school were we strive to be men and women with and for others. I can’t do that while supporting sweatshops such as Nike. I don’t support sweatshops, therefor I don’t support Nike.
- Christina Vlahos

People are being hurt. And I’m lucky enough to be able to help, I’m obligated to help, and more importantly, I WANT to help.
- Najla Fawal

Jim made an awesome presentation at SI Prep last week. I am now aware of the injustices that Nike and many other companies make and I want to do something about it. Heres to step 1!
- Sophia Melone

I was always aware of the existence of sweatshops for different companies, especially Nike. But nothing put it in perspective for me until I read John Perkins’ book “the Secret History of the American Empire”. What you and Leslie Kretzu did I thought was very brave and amazing thing to do. I go to a private school in Canada and am constantly surrounded by girls who consume designer products without knowing where its coming from. I must admit I was one of them. Even our athletics department uses nike and adidas. But after reading John Perkins’ book, my friends and i have vowed to only consume sweatshop free clothing. Its unfortunate that the girls that go to my school are so educated in academics, but so naive when it comes to materialistic things. Thank you for what you are doing!
- Connie

I really enjoy helping misfourtunate people in certain situations.
- Matt

I joined Team Sweat because Jim was over at Temple University a few weeks ago to speak on the social injustices of Nike. As a business major preparing to enter the business world, I believe that it is time for my generation to take a stand against such horrible business practices. I also believe that by taking a stand we can effect change and usher in an era of socially responsible business.
- Chekwube Ofili

I have had a long time interest in social justice concerns such as these. I learned of Team Sweat, particularly, from the Wilkes-Barre Peace and Justice Center.
- Athena Ford

(I joined Team Sweat because) a presentation was given about it at my high school, Loyola Academy (IL).
- Daniel Vanderbosch

I have been teaching a Peace & Justice course for over 20 years. I have tried to explore with my students the conditions in the sweatshops around the world, and help them investigate ways that they could have some impact on changing the situation.
- George Peter

Team Sweat’s May 6, 2009 response to Nike’s refusal to disclose wage rates at all partner factories

May 6th, 2009


Team Sweat:

In response to Nike’s April 17, 2009 letter about disclosing wage rates, I am sending the following letter to Ms. Hannah Jones, Nike’s VP for Corporate Responsibility, today.

To: Hannah Jones
From: Jim Keady
Re: Disclosing Wage Rates

May 6, 2009

Ms. Jones,

I am in receipt of your letter dated April 17, 2009 that sets forth Nike’s current position regarding the disclosure of wage rates at your partner factories. In response to the information you shared, I would like to focus our conversation on the statements in paragraphs four and five of your letter.

You wrote:

“Nike does require that factories manufacturing our products comply with local legal minimum wages, and this is something we aim to verify in our auditing process. However, because factories are not Nike-owned, it is not possible for us to mandate what wages should be paid by the factories to workers. Moreover, this data is not something that we collect; it is owned and managed by factories, which is why Nike cannot disclose workers’ wage rates.

We are, however, interested in establishing a baseline measurement of overall worker well-being, including an understanding of the extent to which factory wages are meeting local basic needs, in order to identify where significant gaps may exist. There may be ways that Nike, leveraged with other companies, donors, governments, and civil society organizations, can work to help reduce barriers to development, so that wages further meet the needs of workers and their families.”

You state that Nike requires factories to comply with legal minimum wages and that you aim to verify this in your auditing process. But then you say that this data is not something you collect.

If you have auditing reports that document what workers are being paid to ensure that factories are complying with legal minimums, do you not, in fact, have the data we are requesting?

You state that these factories are not Nike-owned and therefore it is not possible to mandate what wages should be paid by the factories to workers.

If Nike cannot mandate what wages are paid at the factories, what exactly did Mr. Vada Manager mean when in response to a report by the National Labor Committee, he said, “Where was Kernaghan when we raised wages 70 percent in Indonesia? We have a code that applies globally and that provides wages that far surpass regional or national minimum wages”? (Washington Post, December 22, 2000)

If it is true that you cannot mandate what wages should be paid to workers, was Mr. Manager wrong when he said that you (Nike) raised wages 70% in Indonesia?

With regard to worker compensation, Nike’s Code of Conduct states:

“The contractor provides each employee at least the minimum wage, or the prevailing industry wage, whichever is higher; provides each employee a clear written accounting for every pay period; and does not deduct from employee pay for disciplinary infractions.”

That is the only mention of compensation in Nike’s Code of Conduct.

In reference to Mr. Manager’s statement above, can you please direct me to the part where the code “provides wages that far surpass regional or national minimum wages”?

With regard to documentation and inspection, Nike’s Code of Conduct states:

“The contractor maintains on file all documentation needed to demonstrate compliance with this Code of Conduct and required laws; agrees to make these documents available for Nike or its designated monitor; and agrees to submit to inspections with or without prior notice.”

It is clear by the information above that: Nike requires that employees are provided the minimum wage or prevailing industry wage, whichever is higher; and Nike requires that contractors maintain records of this information and that these documents must be made available to Nike upon request.

But in your April 17, 2009 letter you wrote, “…this data is not something that we collect; it is owned and managed by factories, which is why Nike cannot disclose workers’ wage rates.”

If you do not collect the data, how are you ensuring that employees are in compliance with your code and are providing the minimum wage or prevailing industry wage?

In paragraph five of your letter you wrote:

“We are, however, interested in establishing a baseline measurement of overall worker well-being, including an understanding of the extent to which factory wages are meeting local basic needs, in order to identify where significant gaps may exist.”

How exactly do you plan on establishing a baseline measurement that includes the extent to which factory wages are meeting local basic needs if “this data is not something that we (Nike) collect; it is owned and managed by factories”?

Finally, I would like to revisit the statement that Mr. Knight made to a reporter from PBS with regard to wages, as noted in my March 19, 2009 letter.

The reporter asked, “Mr. Knight… do you feel comfortable that your workers are making a living wage?”

Mr. Knight responded, “Absolutely. No question about it.”

Can you please provide me with Mr. Knight’s definition of a living wage? Also, can you provide the data he used at the time to back up his assertion that workers were “absolutely” being paid a living wage, “no question about it”?

On behalf of Team Sweat, I am requesting that you provide a written response to all of the questions above by June 1, 2009.

I appreciate your time and your attention to this matter and I hope that this finds you well.

Peace,

Jim Keady, Captain
Team Sweat

cc. Phil Knight, Chairman of the Board
Mark Parker, CEO
Caitlin Morris, Director of Compliance and Integration

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Nike’s April 17, 2009 response to Team Sweat’s demand for disclosure of wage rates at all partner factories

May 6th, 2009

Team Sweat:

On April 17th, I received the following letter from Hannah Jones, Nike’s Vice President of Corporate Responsibility in response to our March 19, 2009 letter requesting that Nike disclose wage rates for all their partner factories.

April 17, 2009

Mr. Jim Keady
106 Meadow Point Lane,
Point Pleasant, NJ 08742

Dear Mr. Keady,

Thank you for writing on behalf of Team Sweat regarding the disclosure of wages paid at contract factories producing Nike product around the world. Your letter was forwarded to me by Phil Knight’s office.

We believe that we have increased our transparency regarding the challenges in our supply chain since we first began to learn about working conditions in contract factories over a decade ago.

The disclosure of the names and locations of contract factories used by Nike in 2004 was a step along the path towards greater transparency. Moreover, our 2006 Corporate Responsibility report went into great detail regarding our factory auditing process, and it included an honest admission of some of the challenges of the compliance challenges we continue to face. As a result of this, we have identified the need for better root cause analysis of problems, as well as promoting systemic changes, such as the need to implement human resource management training programs in contract factories used by Nike.

We understand your interest in continuing to hold Nike to account, and on our more than 10-year journey in corporate responsibility, we have made mistakes and learned from them by continuing to have dialogue with stakeholders such as yourself. But we also hope that you recognize that over the past few years, Nike has increased our Corporate Responsibility staff capacity in countries where major manufacturing takes place, which has helped us gain greater visibility to challenges within factories, as well as a better understanding of possible solutions. This includes a growing understanding about the complex issue of wages.

Nike does require that factories manufacturing our products comply with local legal minimum wages, and this is something we aim to verify in our auditing process. However, because factories are not Nike-owned, it is not possible for us to mandate what wages should be paid by the factories to workers. Moreover, this data is not something that we collect; it is owned and managed by factories, which is why Nike cannot disclose workers’ wage rates.

We are, however, interested in establishing a baseline measurement of overall worker well-being, including an understanding of the extent to which factory wages are meeting local basic needs, in order to identify where significant gaps may exist. There may be ways that Nike, leveraged with other companies, donors, governments, and civil society organizations, can work to help reduce barriers to development, so that wages further meet the needs of workers and their families.

We hope that you will collaborate with us in this next step in our learning, and we are looking forward your trip to Indonesia with Nike staff this summer to explore some of these issues first-hand. We hope that this will bring us closer to making impactful changes that will help improve the lives of workers and their families.

Hannah Jones
VP, Corporate Responsibility

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Team Sweat’s March 19, 2009 letter to Nike requesting disclosure of wage rates at all partner factories

May 6th, 2009

Team Sweat:

On March 19, 2009, I sent the following letter to Nike requesting that they disclose wage rates for all their partner factories worldwide.

To: Mr. Phil Knight
From: Jim Keady
Re: Disclosing Wage Rates

Date: March 19, 2009

Mr. Knight:

I am writing you on behalf of Team Sweat – the international coalition of consumers, investors, and workers who are fighting to end sweatshop abuses in Nike’s factories around the world.

For several months now, members and supporters of Team Sweat have been sending you postcards requesting that you disclose wage rates for all of the factories from which you source.

To date, Nike has not made this information public. This seems in contradiction to Nike’s public commitment to transparency set forth in your 2005-2006 Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) Report. The report states that:

“Transparency is the first step towards open-source approaches to problem solving.”

We would like you to be transparent on the issue of wages because there seems to be some confusion on Nike’s current public position on this matter. Referring again to your 2005-2006 CSR Report, it states that:

“Some worker advocates suggest that a living wage should be paid… We (Nike) do not support this approach.”

We are unsure as to why Nike would not support workers receiving a living wage, given your response to a PBS Reporter when asked about workers’ wages in Nike’s overseas factories. The reporter asked:

“Mr. Knight… do you feel comfortable that your workers are making a living wage?”

You responded:

“Absolutely. No question about it.”

Team Sweat is eager to review the data upon which you based your assertion. We are eager, because your assertion that workers in Nike partner factories “absolutely” make a living wage seems to run counter to both our research and to the position put forth in your CSR Report.

Basically, we are unsure as to why Nike would not support a living wage being paid to workers, as per the CSR Report, if in fact, you, Mr. Knight, are absolutely sure that living wages are already being paid. Again, in the spirit of transparency and in an effort to address what is clearly some inconsistency on this matter on Nike’s part, Team Sweat is formally requesting that Nike publicly disclose the wage rates that workers are paid at each of your partner factories around the world. We are also requesting that you provide a written response to this letter by April 15, 2009 letting us know when you will publicly disclose this information.

I appreciate your time and your attention to this matter.

Peace,

Jim Keady, Captain
Team Sweat

cc. Mark Parker, CEO
Hannah Jones, VP of CR
Caitlin Morris, Director of Compliance and Integration

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Nike refuses to disclose wage rates

May 4th, 2009

Team Sweat:

I recently received a letter from Nike in response to our postcard campaign demanding that they disclose wage rates for all their partner factories worldwide. At the moment, they are refusing to comply. I am in the midst of crafting a response and I will post both the original letter, the response, and the call to action in the coming days.

Peace, Jim Keady

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Students from Shippensburg University join the fight against Nike’s sweatshops

April 17th, 2009

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Students at Loyola Academy (IL) join the fight against Nike’s sweatshops

April 17th, 2009

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Students from Loyola University-Chicago join the fight against Nike’s sweatshops

April 17th, 2009

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Students from Wheelock College join the fight against Nike’s sweatshops

April 16th, 2009

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Students from UMASS-Lowell join the fight against Nike’s sweatshops

April 15th, 2009

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More students join the fight against Nike’s sweatshops

April 15th, 2009

Team Sweat:

Below are comments from students who have recently joined the fight against Nike’s sweatshop abuses.

Peace, Jim Keady

Our relationship to our neighbor is bound up with our relationship to God; our response to the love of God is shown to be effective in his love and service of people. Christian love of neighbor and justice cannot be seperated. For love implies an absolute demand for justice, namely a recognition of the dignity and rights of one’s neighbor. Justice … Read Moreattains its inner fullness only in love. Every person is created in the image and likeless of God, and thus God is found is every person and is deserving of justice and love. As humans, this is our responsibility.

- Sara S

I joined TeamSweat because I want to change the innocent factory workers’ lives and make our world a better place.

- Claire Vasiljevich

I joined Team Sweat because I am appalled by the horrible conditions forced upon Nike sweatshop workers. We NEED to act as “Men and Women for Others” and stop Nike!

- Samantha S.

I joined because I watched the video in my justice seminar class, and it made me really want to do something. I do not want to be part of the problem, but rather part of the solution.

- Caitlin Heller

I am a student at Loyola Academy and I am joining Team Sweat because I am applaled at the fact that such a large corporation is so negligent of their employees. They should be able to fight for themselves but because of the things that could happen to them after that, they NEED Loyola students to be men and women for others and fight for them.

- Colette Hankin

I attend Loyola Academy. I want to join Team Sweat because as human beings we are created in the image and likeness of God (Imago Dei) and we should all be entitled to a dignified life. The treatment that the Indonesians are receiving is unjust and immoral. Collectively I think we can make a difference!

- Alexandra Monacelli

I joined Team Sweat because I feel that it is my job as a Catholic girl to be active in the fight against injustice! I was so upset over the truth I recently learned behind NIKE. This is wrong and so inhumane. But I cant just go throughout my life despising the people who run NIKE. WE CAN CHANGE THIS!

- Paige

I am a sophomore from Loyola Academy. I am a hispanic student from the deep west side of Chicago and I reside in a predominantly Puerto Rican community known as Humblolt Park. Yesterday Mr. Keady presented at my school and a few days prior to the presentation my scripture class viewed his documentary “Behind the Swoosh.” When I first saw this I was immediately shocked. I had been completely oblivious to these truths throughout my entire life. I immediately felt obligated to help these people out as much as I can, and was very excited when I was told that Mr. Keady was coming to present. The presentation was truly inspirational to me. Although I was moved I could feel the blunt ignorance of my peers, that realization gave me even more inspiration to take action and to try and do as much as I possibly can to help. I am not from the north shore nor do I own many designer brands or an i-touch. But what I am ensured everyday is a warm bed to sleep in and sufficient meals to get me through everyday. And the fact that many other people in the world never see these simple and often overlooked aspects of life saddens me deeply. I have decided to take a stand and try and get involved as much as I possibly can. I am very good with art and design and want to help this orginaztion get the message across through visual medias. I know that the members are very busy, but if anyone can contact me back and let me know what I can do i would be very willing. Thank you.

- Luis Marin

I joined Team Sweat because I currently attend a Jesuit high school and I have been taught to give every person on this planet the same chance at a life with dignity that I have been given. Nike and other companies take advantage of those who have no voice in this world and I hope they can have the oppurtunity to earn a living wage that can help them live their life with ease.

- Will Abraham

I can’t wait to be apart of Team Sweat and helping out in what ever ways I can. No person should be treated like filth. I will gladly spread the word and hope that a large enough mass of people join Team Sweat so that Nike will take a more significant step towards fixing the living conditions in Indonesia. Mr. Keady really inspired me with his words today in our assembly at Loyola Academy ,a Jesuit high school. His use of “Men and Women for Others,” really hit me because that is also our school motto.

- J.P. Skowron

I learned about TEAM SWEAT at Loyola Academy and think that sweatshops are completely wrong. I would like to help to fight this.

- Matt Wojkowski

(I joined Team Sweat) to improve the condition of exploited Nike workers.

- Nikhil Pillai

After hearing Keady talk, it made me realize that there are a lot more problems out there then my own dealing with money. I wanted to join that I support what Keady is doing and I hope he makes a difference or more to help other people’s lives be better.

- Stephanie Koenig

I just saw Keady’s presentation at my school and it had a strong impact on me. I study sociology here at Shippensburg University and I already knew some of these problems that exist but not to the extent. Activisim is a wonderful thing and I admire the dedication. Keep it up!

- Gina Sciabarassi

I’m sick and tired of not being heard. What Nike is doing is disgusting and we, as leaders of the future, should be helping to stop the wrong doing.

- Lauren Rojas-Castillo

I am a devout Christian, and I am a university student from Shippensburg University. I am an education major, and it pains me to see people working so hard, with no hope of an education or better life because companies like Nike feel they can control them and keep them low enough to stay alive but have no hope of changing their lifestyle. I would like to help those workers in sweatshops get that hope that they, like all humankind, deserves. These people should be granted the necessities in life of food, water and shelter, and the most important- a family.

- Casey Atkins

I don’t understand why humans should have to suffer by putting all their time and energy into a job that doesn’t even allow them to live properly just so consumers like us can feed into our shallow images and purchase pricey products. It’s not fair to allow human rights to be discarded so corporate leaders can overcharge for scraps of rubber that are assembled. I hope to find any way I can to participate in fighting for these workers.

- Krista MacBain

I am a student at Loyola Academy and I think what Nike is doing is wrong and these people in Indonesia can not survive off $1.50 a day. So i joined Team Sweat to stop this and help raise awareness about the cause.

- Brittany Ruh

I go to Loyola Academy and I don’t believe that what Nike is doing is moral. I think that the workers should be paid fair wages and that the sports people should send some of their money to the workers. I will be spending the postcards in to Phil Knight and Tiger Woods sometime today.

- Caitlin Bohling

Because there are people in the world facing injustices and it is our job, people who are part of the human race, to stand up and fight for others.

- Fawn Johnstin

I am a student at Loyola Academy, and after hearing about the terrible and horrifying working conditions the Nike workers face, I knew it was my duty as a woman for others to somehow stop this injustice.

- Chloe Micek

I joined Team Sweat because, I saw Jim Keady’s documentary, I also saw a presentation he gave, and he inspired me to join this cause. I want to help this workers!

- Arthur Stone

I’m a conservative, and even I recognize that paying workers a dollar or two a day to produce $100 products is dangerous abuse. We have a responsibility as consumers to demand that Nike conduct its business ethically.

- Ron Sommers

I went to a lecture about the sweatshops, the lies, and the way Nike handles its factories in Indonesia. It broke my heart to hear these stories and the facts. I want to let Nike/Mr. Phil Knight know that what he is doing by ignoring the travesty and tradegy going on in HIS sweatshops is the most IRRESPONSIBLE and most heartless thing I’ve ever heard. I have no idea how he can sleep at night knowing he has the power to make millions of peoples lives better, yet he does NOTHING.

- Eric Wolfe

I joined Team Sweat because as a fifteen year old girl I would like to wear my clothes and shoes with dignity. Knowing that girls my age are working more overtime then I ever will in my life makes me sick. I want those girls and all the rest of the workers to work with dignity too. Dignify yourself. - Isabel Brooks As a consumer, I feel that I have the responsibility to pay attention to the various items I purchase. To know that what I may purchase was made in a sweatshop in which the employees are walked all over and treated barbarically is not something that I support. Especially to know that Nike tolerates such behavior, considering that I come from a family of athletes, disturbs me.

- Kaitlynn Forde

(I joined Team Sweat because) I saw the movie and the presentation, and it just clicked with me.

- Griffin Hull

God is love and we must show our love for one anoher by giving people what they deserve. I believe everyone deserves living wage for their hard work and they deserve respect as equal human beings.

- Kawthar Rkein

I joined Team Sweat because I strongly want to help change the injustices these workers suffer.

- Joanna P.

(I joined Team Sweat) to help put collective pressure on corporations to grant their workers with the basic human rights they all deserve.

- Taylor C.

I joined Team Sweat because I believe that sweatshop conditions are a disgrace and if the people running them have so much money what is it to them to give some back?

- Mary Clare Eisinger

Jim Keady came and spoke at Marian College, Indianapolis, where I am earning my degree. He educated me so much and influenced me to want to learn more and become a part of this myself.

- Jesse Kirkwood

I joined Team Sweat because I believe they are treating the hard workers in the sweatshops in a dehumanizing way. I have grown up knowing that everyone regardless of nationality, race, creed, religion, etc. is entitled to human rights. Treating someone as though they are just another worker “lucky” to have a job and just because they are from a third world country they do not need as much is WRONG! I would love to see ALL the employees/executives to know what it feels like to not have your own baby not able to live with you, not be able to eat all 3 meals in a day without having to beg, being able to to have a decent bathroom, etc. I do not believe anyone should have to go through what those people are going through. I think Nike needs to step up and take some accountablity for their actions, get their stories straight, and just as their slogan says “Just Do It.”

- Aubrey Rinkert

(I joined Team Sweat) to respect human rights and fight against (Nike). Have a good day.

- Mohd Fikry Bin Mishan

I joined Team Sweat because you came to my school (Loyola Academy) and I have decided to take this a step further. By joining this group and help stop this cruel treatment towards people. I do not think people should be treated like an item. I will do anything I can to help every person that deserves to have a respected life.

- Jina Kim

I joined Team Sweat because I value human dignity. Additionally, I feel that exploiting the rights of overseas workers to further American economic prosperity is a violation of the American spirit of equality, freedom, and justice.

- Chris Hauser

(I joined Team Sweat because) I want to help.

- Caroline Williams

WHEN WILL YOU JOIN THE FIGHT?

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Students from Loyola University and Loyola Academy join the fight against Nike’s sweatshops

April 1st, 2009

Team Sweat: 

Below are comments from students at Loyola University and Loyola Academy. They are truly living the Jesuit motto of being “men and women for others” by joining the fight against Nike’s sweatshop abuses. 

Peace, Jim Keady 

I want to fight to end the injustices in Nike’s sweatshops!
- Felicia Shapiro

(I want) to help in the fight to end injustices any way that I can.
- Veronica Policht

I was at your talk at Loyola last night (colored/striped sweater in the middle) and I’m really sorry that I had to leave right when it was over… I just wanted to say thank you so much for coming! I first saw you, and I believe Leslie, too, talk at a summer program at Yale that I attended probably 5 or 6 years ago. Since then I’ve always been interested in seeing you again and hearing about updates to the entire situation (I have been receiving the EFJ e-mail updates) … I live in the Silicon Valley, CA and I know you’ve been to Bellarmine and other places around there to speak and I always tell all my friends/family to go. So anyway, thank you again for coming here and good luck in all your efforts! Hope to see you again sometime in the future. 
- Jordan Micek

Jim Keady came to my high school and really inspired me to stick up and be a women for others (which so happens to be Loyola’s motto). I’m also ready to stop talking about making a difference, but really taking and accomplishing one quote from the Dalai Lama that Mr. Keady used in his video, “It is not enough to be compassionate, you must act.” I really want to be a part of a cause that’s sticking up for what’s right one step at a time. Thank you again for visiting Mr. Keady! It was a pleasure!
- Teddi Weigel 

I joined Team Sweat because I don’t think the price of a human life and dignity is even close to being comparable to that of a product. I think the world should make human rights for all a top priority, before animal rights or capitalistic pursuits. I joined Team Sweat because I truly live by the Golden Rule, to treat others as I would like to be treated. If everyone would consider this principle of supporting the lives of people before supporting their pocket books, the world would be a better place.
- Angela Wells

I saw the presentation at Loyola Academy, in Wilmette, Illinois. Nike must act now to do what is right morally!
- Gineen Hecht

I believe in the dignity of all people, and their right to be able to work so as to support themselves, their families and their communities. I do not see consistent, concrete evidence that Nike and many other large corporations share my beliefs, or practice them world-wide. Social justice is everyone’s business. Social justice is actually good for business — even though it does not concentrate the wealth in the hands of a minority of entrepreneurs. If our world is to survive, and its people to flourish, we must address these issues.
- Rosanne Coury

(I want) to help people earn enough money to get by.
-Sam Retzky

(I want) to prove Phil Knight wrong.
- Franco Capitanini

I thought nike was the perfect athletic company ever but now that I know about their sweatshops I want to fix the problem. I feel that it is morally wrong to treat people that way and I want to fix the perfect company that I looked up to.
- William Hague

I joined Team Sweat because I go to a Jesuit school that teaches us the principles of being men and women for others. How can I live out this motto if I know corporations like Nike are causing HUGE injustices across the world?
- Jackie Boratyn

I joined Team Sweat because I think it is a shame that fellow people have to live in the conditions that the Nike Indonsion workers are focred to live under, and becaue I attend at Jesuit High School where I am told to live for a “Man For Others”.
- Evan Fay

As I Christian this issue is very important to me since we are made in the image and likeness of God; Christ taught us to love and care for our neighbors.
- Mary

Mr. Keady came to speak to us at Loyola Academy today and I want to tell Nike that what they are doing is terrible and, although I like their products, I am offended by the way they treat their sweat shop workers. This needs to stop NIKE!
- Joey Dudzik

There was a presentation at our high school earlier in the week and it moved me. i would donate, but being a teenager, I’m short on cash, so i will do the next best thing.
- Mike D

I attended a presentation at my school today and i think that what NIKE is doing is outrageous, and i’m out of money, so I’ve decided to do the next best thing.
- Michael

I joined team sweat because I don’t like how Nike is treating their workers. I want to help solve this problem. 
- Alena Dowdle

I want to join Team Sweat because I believe in this cause. I find it repulsive to know that Mr. Knight and all of Nike is fully aware of what is going on in those sweat shops in Asia and not doing anything to try and change, because it’s “cheap” labor. I want to become part of the community of Team Sweat to fight against this and to show those who tell us we can’t that we CAN just do it.
- Chessy Gortzounian

I’m joining Team Sweat because I’m disgusted that an American company can allow their employees to work under such bad conditions and with as little pay as they are getting. We need to change things!
- Jamie Fox

I am appalled to find out that my favorite shoe company has lied to me, telling me that they had dealt with the labor problems. I am joining Team Sweat to support all of the hard working people in the numerous countries around the world that hold sweatshops.
- Will Cushwa

I joined Team Sweat because I believe that Nike workers should receive what is fair, not the bare minimum. If acting against any company can facilitate change, Nike would be that company.
- Phillip Henry

There was a presentation at my school, Loyola Academy, and I was previously ignorant about the subject, but I strongly sympathize with the workers, as everyone should have a living wage, good conditions, and be able to keep their dignity.
-Ryan McShane

I joined because it is not morally right to have this happen to people and us just sit here ignoring the problem.
- Meredith Cerney

I heard about this issue at a school assembly and what Nike is doing goes against all my morals. 
- Lauren Marino

How can you be Christian or any other religion, and allow other human beings suffer like this?
- Joe Sommers

You visited my high school (Loyola Academy) and really challenged my view towards Nike. I appreciate your strong will and passion for giving deserving people their deserved human dignity.
- Mia Casey

My name is Vanesa Rivera. I joined Team Sweat because no one should live under the conditions that the factory workers live under. The workers are human beings and should not be treated that way. It is disgusting and Phil Knight should care and do something about it.
- Vanesa Rivera

I go to a Jesuit high school and I want to be a “woman for others.” Learning about the conditions people live in really disgusted me. I believe in people over profit. 
- Leigh Agombar

(I joined Team Sweat because of a) presentation today at my school. This needs to stop and something needs to be done.
- Mo 

I am joining Team Sweat because I think these workers have a right to their dignity, and by paying them wages that do not give them enough food for the day or to take care of their families is absurd. Every human has dignity and we should start caring about those people whose dignity is being taken away.
- Caitlin Desmond 

I am a student at Loyola Academy and today, Jim Keady gave a great presentation. It was insightful and eye-opening. I want to do what I can to help those who are put down by the oppressiveness in Indonesia, and everywhere that these problems exist.
- Brigid Murray

I joined Team Sweat because I was really inspired to strive for change when Jim Keady came to our school today. As a member of a Jesuit School Community, I feel a responsibility to serve others and try to gain equality on the world. I feel that Team Sweat embodies all of those characteristics and I want to be a part of the change.
- Maggie Kollar

(I joined) to give voice to the voiceless.
-Paul Clarke 

I joined Team Sweat because I want to help make these workers’ lives better. It is so ridiculously unjust that Nike (and all other corporations with factories in countries like Indonesia) are allowed to use policies that dehumanize their workers. All people have the right to be able to earn enough money to support themselves and their families and to retain their human dignity in the process. I have joined Team Sweat because I believe that collectively we can make a difference for the workers at the Nike factories, and that these changes will help to improve the lives of the impoverished across the globe.
- Nicole Michels 

I joined Team Sweat to bring awareness to people around me the circumstances Nike workers live in. Nike should think about the children their workers must support. Those children are our future and we must do everything we can to give them a proper life.
- Julia Coffou

The work you do is truly amazing. I can’t wait to be apart of it. No person should be treated like filth. Given enough for 2 meals every day is simply not enough. I will gladly spread the word and hope that a large enough mass of people join Team Sweat so that Nike will take a more significant step towards fixing the living conditions in Indonesia.
- Maggie Mullen 

I like Nike and their products but the people who are making these products are people too and they deserve to recieve their rights.
- Lizzie Sirput 

I joined Team Sweat because, as a fan of Nike products, I am disappointed and appalled by the conditions forced upon Nike factory workers. The Nike Corporation needs to set an example and pay the people whom they have identified as their “employee,” a living wage in which they can experience human progress and flourishing.
- Wynn Coughlin 

I joined after hearing a presentation at my high school, Loyola Academy, and am in shock at what is going on around the world. I want to be part of bringing justice to the thousands of people who are being unfairly treated by major companies. If people who hold an executive position are not being treated like this, then why is the labor force?? It’s just not right!
- Kelly Donahue 

After hearing Mr. Keady speak at my high school I became appalled, ashamed and inspired. I can not believe that this type of injustice is still occurring in our world. I can not believe that so many people sit back and watch but don’t take action. And I can not believe that not only do we do nothing but we are the cause of it and we benefit from so many people suffering. I hope that through my school I am able to help in the fight toward justice and living wages for these sweatshop workers. As I attend college and grow up I know will continue to fight for a change for all people in the world who suffer because of consumers, factory owners, and companies like NIKE.
- Stefani Jerger

I joined Team Sweat because as a student at a Jesuit high school I believe that I have a responsibility to help people less fortunate than I am.
- Ted Hocter

I joined Team Sweat because this social rights issue affects me the most. Nike sweatshops and all other major corporation sweat shops are so involved in our pop culture and the best part about it is that WE, the public can control this issue to a certain extent. WE are the ones that choose to buy these sweatshop made products. WE can say no.
- Pilar

I’m a high school athlete that just found out about whats going on when Jim Keady came to our school. It’s horrible what they do to these workers. Its not right and it’s just disgusting. I NEED to do something, I don’t want to watch this and not have said or done anything. Things need to change.
- Grace

I joined Team Sweat because I believe the Nike corporation completely violates human rights. It disgusts me to hear about the workers in Indonesia living in such poor conditions and I recognize the need for change.
- Kim Elkayam

Today at Loyola Academy Jim Keady kicked off our annual Peace and Justice week. HUNDREDS of students were presented with a serious justice issue that they found themselves WEARING. Team Sweat of course is awesome because of what it is trying to achieve, and also becaue it gives kids a way to help the situation –instead of just doing the usual “raising awareness”. The feedback from the students at the Academy over the past few hours has been fantastic and makes progress seem achievable. As a student of Jesuit education I am encouraged to be “a women for others”. I feel that working to protect the human dignity of these people is my responsibility now that I know about Nike’s sweat shops.
- Emily Picchietti

I joined Team Sweat because I am a strong believer in equal rights for all people. I believe that more awareness needs to be created and I think that if it is it can be a catalyst for change, and I believe that this is a good way to start doing it.
- Sam Hysell 

(I joined Team Sweat because) I wanted to give back. 
- Sarah

I joined Team Sweat because I think how companies treat their workers is wrong and I think it is even worse for consumers to be ignorant and/or not care where their products are coming from and how they are made. I think as consumers we should take responsibility for where our products come from and how they are made. I think it is wrong for any human being to be able to decide how someone else lives especially when they are living in such bad conditions.
- Michela

I am a student at a Jesuit high school, Loyola Academy and your speech really inspired me. Something needs to be done about these injustices.
- Susan Nichols

I thought Jim Keady brought up some excellent points about Nike in his presentation at our school. There obviously need to be some changes with the way Nike as well as other major sporting brands operate in regards to their labor wages.
- Sean Hipskind

I am a freshman at Loyola Academy and today saw a presentation by Jim Keady. This year we focussed alot on Catholic Social Teaching, therefore i had a good sense about what Mr.Keady was referring to when he was speaking about how it is our role as Catholics to stop this. Sweat shops are wrong. Ok, sure, Nike is giving jobs to these people but they aren’t doing their workers any favors. If it wasn’t for their workers, they wouldn’t have any product to sell. Sweatshops are wrong, JUST DON’T DO IT.
- Meredith Abrahamson

I love Nike and Adidas cuz they have comfy and nice clothes but i am really disappointed that they have these horrible sweatshops even tho i may realized it since long time ago. Well. this Jim guy visited my school for justice and peace week speech and presentation. I was moved. even tho I got tired and bored at the very last. However, i like this guy. This guy is nice, motivated, has sympathy, and brave enough to spend his valuable time in just investigate and help labors in sweatshops.
- Aidan Lee

I joined Team Sweat because of the undeniable fact that the people of Indonesia are real people like us, with families, hopes, and dreams, and thus they deserve a living wage.
- Sarah Thomas 

I attend a Catholic high school. The motto of the school is “Men and Women for Others.” It is my duty as a privileged citizen to help those who cannot speak for themselves. I want to do my part.
- Grace Bowen

Others need our help, I want to do my small part to do something about that.  - Sara

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More students join the fight against Nike’s sweatshops

April 1st, 2009

Team Sweat:

Below are comments from students that have recently joined the fight against Nike’s sweatshop abuses. 

Peace, Jim Keady 

I joined Team Sweat after viewing a presentation put on by Umass Lowell about the injustices in the nike sweatshops around the world. I was disgusted at how poorly these workers were treated and how impossible it is for them to meet their basic needs. It is amazing that these workers are paid so little while the athletes endorsing the clothes that they wear are being paid millions. Nike has lost a customer in me until they change their unfair practices.
-Stephen A. Silvar, Jr.

I saw your presnetation at my school, Wheelok College, tonight. While we are a small school, we are comitted to improving the lives of chidldren and families worldwide and I know this will start a rallying cry. I know there will be much discussion of the issue to come, including in my social work class among many other classes. the awareness and knowldege you have brought will spread throughout the school, neighboring schools, and the city of Boston. Thank you for your time, and thank you for bringing this issue to our school.
-Nicholas McRae

Empathy.
-Donny Saputra

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More consumers join the fight against Nike’s sweatshops

March 23rd, 2009

Team Sweat:

Here are comments from people that recently joined Team Sweat in the fight against Nike’s sweatshop abuses.

I am really excited about having our brothers and sisters in Indonesia join us!

In solidarity, Jim Keady

I want to help nike workers get the living wages they deserve. -Tituk Bagus Novianto

My name is Joana and I am in university, majoring dentistry in one of private university in Surabaya Indonesia. I did know that most of big US factory in Indonesia such as GAP and NIke didn’t give the right amount of wages as they deserved since I was 6th grade. And now I’m in my 2nd year of university. During that time I couldn’t do something to help them. Maybe with join this I could at least support the workers to get the wages they deserved. -Joana

Exploiting people is unexceptable and things need to change. -Annalena Snure

The exploitation in developing country is like satan. -Mihror Dendi

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Nike workers from Indonesia join the fight against Nike’s sweatshops

March 18th, 2009

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Anti-Sweatshop Legislation re-introduced in the Senate and House

March 18th, 2009

Team Sweat:

I would encourage you to check out the story on the “Decent Working Conditions and Fair Competition Act” that has been posted by our friends at the National Labor Committee. You can find it at:

Decent Working Conditions and Fair Competition Act

Be sure to look and see if your U.S. Senators and House Representative are supporting this bill. If they are not, please send them an email, a letter, or call their office (or do all of these things) and let them know that you would like them to support this important piece of legislation. When this legislation is passed, it will go a long way in reigning in companies like Nike that exploit workers in sweatshops around the world.

Again, be sure to TAKE ACTION and contact your Senators and Representative.

In solidarity, Jim Keady

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Students at Canisius College join the fight against Nike’s sweatshops

March 18th, 2009

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Students at Southern NH University join the fight against Nike’s sweatshops

March 18th, 2009

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Students at Franklin Pierce University join the fight against Nike’s sweatshops

March 18th, 2009

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More students join Team Sweat

March 18th, 2009

Students from Southern New Hampshire University join Team Sweat

Students from Southern New Hampshire University join Team Sweat

Team Sweat:

This week, more students joined the fight against Nike’s sweatshop abuses.

In solidarity, Jim Keady 

 

After seeing Michael Moore’s interview with Phil Knight and your trip to the sweatshops-especially having to decide whether to shave or eat…how can I not (join Team Sweat)?  - Russell Seaver


I am an activist from Bandung Indonesia and I want to help you during this issue. When you need something from my helping I can solve it.  - Hifsan Rahman


I’m from Regis High School and just watched Mr Keady’s presentation.  I’d like to help.  - Thomas Michelena


I just heard (Jim Keady’s) presentation at Southern New Hampshire University and I thought it was very moving. I really enjoyed it and want to do anything I can to help.  - Alyssa Amon


As a lifelong consumer of Nike’s products I feel that they must change the way they operate, because what they are doing to the production workers is inhumane.  - Ryan Johnson


Something needs to be done. We are the ones that can make it happen.  I can make it happen.  - Abbey Miller


I joined Team Sweat because I want to see an end to Nike’s sweatshop abuse around the world.  - Kevin Tessier


I do like Nike products, but hearing about all the wrongdoings that they have involved themselves in overseas is appalling. To say that Nike is performing ethically throughout all their locations would be wrong on so many levels. I would like to see improved work conditions, increased wages, and environmentally sound plans for the factories overseas. I would like to see the leader of the industry play big brother and set an example for all other companies in their industry.  - Britni Corliss

People shouldn’t be treated like second-class citizens just because they weren’t lucky enough to be born in the United States…how could I not join (Team Sweat)? I’m lucky–I have the ability to try and help people who struggle to get things that I take for granted, like food, water, shelter, clothing and other things that make survival easier.  - Sammi
Chickering


(I joined Team Sweat) to do my part in helping those in need.  - Matt
Piccirillo


I joined Team Sweat because it isn’t fair that just because these people were born in other countries that aren’t as lucky as the United States, they get exploited and can’t even afford the necessities of everyday life. It’s especially not fair to the children who suffer for it!  - Andrea Nugent


I am a student at Canisius College and was deeply moved by this terrifying issue after attending Jim Keady’s lecture. I would like to contribute to this cause, and I am currently trying to spread awareness of this issue through family and friends.  - D’Anna Farrar


I want to help make a difference.  - Emily Marciniak

Jim Keady spoke at my college, Canisius, Thursday the 12th. He gave an amazing speech and inspired me to become more active. I would love to be a part of your team and help in any way I can.  - Ashley Rosenthal

I am joining Team Sweat because after hearing Jim speak at my school Canisius College I was definitely inspired to do what I can to support this cause. I think what he is doing is amazing and deserves all the support that he can get.  - Zeneta

I was inspired by a presentation at my college, and I want to do what I can.  - Tessa Scott

I joined Team Sweat because I believe that all humans are entitled to their God-given rights. It doesn’t matter what your economic conditions are, everyone should be treated with the respect that they deserve. Another reason why I joined Team Sweat is because I was inspired by their persistent fight against multi-billion conglomerates such as Nike. There is not one company in this world that has the right to strip humans of their dignity.  - Dan Murray 

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Behind the Swoosh

March 17th, 2009

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Students at Regis HS join the fight against Nike’s sweatshops

March 9th, 2009

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Indonesian Students, Activists and Trade Unionists are joining Team Sweat

March 9th, 2009

Team Sweat:

This past week has been a very active one on the Team Sweat fan page on Facebook.

We have had a bunch of Indonesian students, activists and trade unionists from Nike factories that have joined the fight to end Nike’s sweatshop abuses. This is a really exciting development and will lend itself to even more effective cross-border activism for the campaign.  

In solidarity, Jim Keady

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Does buying stuff made in sweatshops = moral disengagement?

March 7th, 2009

Team Sweat:

I think you might find the paper below interesting. It explores how people morally disengage themselves when buying stuff that is made in sweatshops.

Peace, Jim Keady

Sweatshop Labor is Wrong Unless the Jeans are Cute: Motivated Moral Disengagement

Published: January 27, 2009
Paper Released: January 2009
Authors: Neeru Paharia and Rohit Deshpandé

Executive Summary:

Most consumers in America have purchased products made with sweatshop labor at one point or another. However, very little attention has been focused on the psychological mechanisms that enable consumers to propagate a system that implicates harm. Although many people say they care about ethical issues such as humane labor conditions, demand for products that guarantee it remains low. According to some estimates, there are hundreds of thousands of sweatshops still operating today. HBS doctoral student Neeru Paharia and professor Rohit Deshpandé examine whether people may be motivated to morally disengage in the presence of harmful attributes such as sweatshop labor when desire for a product is high. They found that research participants were significantly more likely to agree with statements such as: “The use of sweatshop labor is okay because companies must remain competitive,” and “Sweatshops are the only realistic source of income for workers in poorer countries,” when confronted with a hypothetical pair of shoes with a higher appeal, versus shoes with a lower appeal. The researchers also found that moral disengagement can drive people to like products they believe to be made with sweatshop labor even more. The authors suggest that since we are confronted with conflicts between our desires and our moral standards on nearly a daily basis, this research calls into question the foundation from which our moral judgments rest on. If our moral judgments are likely to vary based on our affective desires, any moral standards we may hold ourselves to are dubious at best. Key concepts include:

Two studies demonstrate that levels of moral disengagement can be motivated by one’s level of desire for a product made with sweatshop labor.

While past work has studied moral disengagement in the context of war, this work demonstrates how moral disengagement can be used to deal with dissonance that arises from everyday consumption.

Since we are confronted with conflicts between our desires and our moral standards on nearly a daily basis, we must carefully consider how our desires drive us to justify harmful behavior.

If people were not able to reduce this dissonance, they might actually demand that their products be produced free of harm.

About Faculty in this Article:

Rohit Deshpandé is the Sebastian S. Kresge Professor of Marketing at Harvard Business School.

Abstract

While many consumers say they care about issues such as sweatshop labor, the existence of a very small market for ethically-produced products does not reflect this sentiment. One explanation for this discrepancy is that consumers are motivated to use moral disengagement strategies to reduce dissonance when their desire for a product conflicts with their moral standards. In two studies we show levels of moral disengagement can vary based on one’s desire for a product when sweatshop labor is present. Furthermore, we present evidence for a mediated moderation where beliefs about sweatshop labor use moderates the impact of desirability on purchase intention, and moral disengagement mediates this process. Thus, moral disengagement can drive people to like products they believe to be made with sweatshop labor even more. Desire-driven moral disengagement is relevant in moral psychology, and may broadly contribute towards the tolerance of harm in our social and economic systems.

Paper Information

Full Working Paper Text can be found at: http://hbswk.hbs.edu/item/6102.html

Working Paper Publication Date: January 2009

HBS Working Paper Number: 09-079

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Students at the University of MN-Morris join Team Sweat

February 26th, 2009

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Students at GA Southern University join the fight against Nike’s sweatshops

February 26th, 2009

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Students at Florida Gulf Coast University join the fight against Nike’s sweatshops

February 26th, 2009

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Students at the University of ND join the fight against Nike’s sweatshops

February 26th, 2009

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Young women from two Jesuit high schools join Team Sweat

February 25th, 2009

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More Consumers Join Team Sweat

February 20th, 2009

Team Sweat:

More consumers have joined the fight against Nike’s sweatshops.

Peace, Jim Keady 

 

I heard about this through my friends. I think it is an excellent program, and I am going to do everything in my power to get awareness throughout my school!

- Jamie Green 

 

Hi Jim, I really enjoyed your presentation last night at Georgia Southern University. After attending I went home and did additionally research into the subject and in to other companies responsible for these horrible practices. You mentioned New Balance as a shoe choice, I found that they also are involved in this crisis:

http://www.coopamerica.org/programs/responsibleshopper/company.cfm?id=270

That website is a good resource for consumers who want to be responsible about where their dollars go, and after researching I know my shopping habits will change. I just wanted to drop you an email and tell you to keep up the good work and speaking for thousands who cannot speak up for themselves, you are truly a hero. I’m involved in many causes and this is one that I can add to my list. I became aware of this problem in the 90’s and saw Michael Moore’s movie “The Big One” which profiled Nike and challenged Phil Knight directly, and it’s easy to tell that Mr. Knight does not have a conscience and is in the business not to make money (anymore), he’s in it to make it as successful as possible, to make the company more money, so that his legacy as a legendary businessman is upheld. If that legacy is more important to him, than having a legacy of a caring, compassionate human being, which I think is the case with him, this may be an awfully long ride. I’m willing to throw my support in your corner for this effort, and I’m trying to spread the word. Thanks again and well wishes to our brothers and sisters in Indonesia and elsewhere who desperately need us. 

- Ryan Coskrey

(Note from Jim Keady: Just to clarify, I was not offering New Balance as a “sweatfree” choice.  New Balance uses sweatshops in China.  I was asked by someone in the audience what shoes I wear when I run and I said New Balance and I was clear that it was not because of their labor practices.  While I do have a pair that were made in the USA where there are better worker protections, the company (like Nike) still has a long way to go in treating their production workers fairly.)  

 

After seeing Jim Keady’s presentation at Georgia Southern University, I feel beyond moved to join Team Sweat. I am absolutely infuriated by Nike’s actions and their ultimate lack of heart. I find it appalling that people can sit back and watch while other human beings are exploited daily. I am saddened for the Indonesian workers who are paid next to nothing, sometimes beaten, and often humiliated by Nike. However, I know it is not enough to just feel sad…that is why I must join Team Sweat to fight for a change. This is the first time in my life that I have ever felt truly passionate about something. I KNOW that what is happening to these innocent workers is not right. So, thanks Jim for opening my eyes to the truth about Nike… here’s one more player for Team Sweat.

“It is not enough to be compassionate. You must act.”

- Kelcey Schmidt

 

Hi Jim,

I attended your talk this evening at Florida Gulf Coast University.  I was the lone gentleman in a tie.  I wanted to tell you that I truly enjoyed listening to your story and support your fight.  Shortly after graduating from Boston College in 1995, I did a year of volunteer work with the Jesuit Volunteer Corps in Northern California.  I lived in community with other volunteers and worked at a shelter for homeless families.  I spent a large part of that year learning about social injustices that exist in our country and worked to help marginalized populations.  In the years since, I haven’t been as active in social justice advocacy as I should.  I am currently the Associate Director for Financial Aid at Florida Gulf Coast University.  Your presentation tonight really inspired me to be more active in educating myself on matters such as Nike sweat shops and do what I can to promote change.  Like you had said at the end of your talk, I too believe that we as human beings have a responsibility to work for the common good.  You couldn’t have said it better.

Best wishes and continued success.

Thanks,

Brian Casey 

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Students from GSU Join Team Sweat

February 18th, 2009

Team Sweat:

Last week I had the pleasure of speaking at Georgia Southern University.  Here are some students from GSU that have joined Team Sweat in the fight against Nike’s sweatshops.

Peace, Jim Keady 

After listening to Jim Keady at Georgia Southern University, I was overly inspired to join the fight in stopping these injustices in which I saw through the documentation. Human exploitation has reached a new high point it seems and it would be considered inhumane to not act on my concerns. Consumers and workers have been unaware and uneducated long enough about these issues. It’s time to help the fight in stopping the corporate illusions in which Nike sets on its consumers.

- Whitney O’Connor

I find it so interesting that actual human beings can exploit other human beings in our society today and still be able to sleep at night. It is truly sickening the injustices these corporations get away with every single day. I was so proud that Georgia Southern was open enough to allow Jim Keady to come and do his heartfelt presentation.  That is exactly what makes change happen, when someone is brave enough to set a spark in the minds of people and the people care. I believe deep down every person has at least a tiny freckle of good inside of them, and when I see people genuinely trying to make a difference, it gives me hope. 

The most educational, and shocking, parts of Keady’s lecture were about the cruel violations that were being carried out on the Indonesian Nike workers. I was appalled by the actual wages distributed to them, the raping of the environment, and insane humiliation of the menstrual leave. And when the workers try to do something about their beyond terrible work conditions by starting and joining unions, they are singled out and beaten within an inch of their lives! When presented with these facts, I went straight home and did some of my own research and I found that all of these statements were verified! This infuriated me.  Never in my life have I been so moved to try to do something about it. I thought: “How can these things be happening in our life time?” No wonder other countries completely despise us, we are doing this kind of things to them! So, I went to his website and now there is one more player for Team Sweat.  I feel that one person at a time can make a difference. 

- Ashley Elizabeth Joyner

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Why are you picking on Nike?

February 6th, 2009

Sometimes people ask the question, “Why are you picking on Nike?”  

We are not picking on Nike.

We are simply telling the world the truth about Nike’s sweatshops and their exploitative labor practices. 

We are a non-profit organization with a budget of less than $100K a year.  How could we possibly “pick on” an $18.6 billion dollar corporation that has manufacturing operations in 52 countries, sells products in more than 160 countries, and spends $1.6 billion dollars on marketing and advertising?  Talk about David vs. Goliath.

We focus on Nike for two main reasons.  The first is grounded in the history of how I got involved in this issue more than a decade ago.  When I was coaching at St. John’s University back in 1998, I stumbled upon the Nike sweatshop issue while writing a paper for a grad school class.  When I learned about how Nike was exploiting the poor in developing countries, my assignment turned into activism.  My activism eventually led to an ultimatum from my head coach, “you will wear Nike, and drop this issue, or resign.”  (You can learn more about this by watching BEHIND THE SWOOSH and NIKE SWEATS). 

I wasn’t told I had to wear Adidas, I wasn’t told I had to wear Reebok, I was told I had to wear Nike and that I needed to stop talking about their sweatshop abuses.  I guess, in a way, the Nike issue chose me.  And it turns out that my original focus on Nike is actually pretty strategic with regard to the broader campaign to end sweatshop abuses in the global manufacturing industry- and this is the second reason to focus on Nike. 

Here are the facts:  

  • Nike is the leader in the sportswear industry.  They control roughly 45% of the global market.
  • Nike led the push into low wage countries with poor human rights records.  They exploited (and continue to exploit) these countries for their “cheap labor.”   
  • Labor abuses in Nike factories have been extensively and reliably documented over a 15-year period.  There is no other company for which there is this much objective research. 
  • As the company with the largest profit margins in the industry ($1.5 billion in profits in 2008), Nike can more easily afford to ensure living wages and fair working conditions in their factories. 

We are certain that continued pressure by consumers, workers and investors will get Nike to stop their sweatshop abuses. Once we change Nike, we will have an organizing model we can replicate.  We can use this model to put pressure on other companies and we can create genuine grassroots change in the global apparel and footwear industry. 

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Bring “Behind the Swoosh” to your Campus in 2009

January 29th, 2009

Team Sweat:

I am currently looking for schools to fill out my lecture calendar for the spring semester. If you would like to bring “Behind the Swoosh: Sweatshops and Social Justice” to your school, please send me an email at info@teamsweat.org or call 732.988.7322. For more information about the program, click on the LEARN tab on the teamsweat.org homepage.

Here is a listing of where I will be this semester and the available dates:

February 3rd, 4th, 5th OPEN
February 10th Georgia Southern (GA)
February 11th Florida Gulf Coast (FL)
February 12th OPEN
February 17th, 18th, 19th OPEN
February 24th, 25th, 26th OPEN

March 3rd OPEN
March 4th Southern Connecticut State (CT)
March 5th OPEN
March 10th Franklin Pierce (NH)
March 11th Southern New Hampshire (NH)
March 12th Canisius (NY)
March 17th, 18th, 19th OPEN
March 24th OPEN
March 25th Wheelock College (MA)
March 31st OPEN

April 1st Shippensburg University (PA)

April 2nd OPEN

April 7th UNC-Charlotte (NC)

April 8th, 9th OPEN
April 14th, 15th, 16th OPEN
April 21st, 22nd, 23rd OPEN
April 28th OPEN
April 29th Creighton University (NE)
April 30th OPEN

I am looking forward to visiting your campus!

Peace, Jim Keady

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Students at the Ignatian Family Teach-In Join Team Sweat

January 29th, 2009

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Research Trip with Nike Executives - UPDATE

January 29th, 2009

Team Sweat:

I am writing to let you know that my planned research trip to Indonesia with Nike executives that was scheduled for January 2009 has been moved to the late spring/early summer.  This was done for a number of logistical reasons and I believe that it will actually allow us to have a more productive trip in the long run.  

If you have any questions, drop me an email at info@teamsweat.org 

Peace, Jim Keady

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More Consumers Join Team Sweat

January 15th, 2009
Team Sweat:

Here are comments from more consumers that have joined the fight against Nike’s sweatshops.

Peace, Jim Keady

I recently listened to Jim Keady speak at the Ignatian Family Teach-In for Justice in Columbus, Georgia. The presentation was extremely enlightening and empowering both to myself, and my classmates. In fact, the talk motivated us to initiate a justice week at school with the Team Sweat movement as our primary focus. As I browse through the website, I am extremely excited about all the opportunities and ideas you provide for us to start a campus movement. I attend Regis Jesuit High School in Denver, Colorado, and would absolutely love to have Jim Keady be a guest speaker during this justice week.
- Catherine Reidy
I want to join Team Sweat because I want to help the Nike employees to get reasonable wages and not have to struggle for their basic needs on a daily basis.
- Bonnie Albright
I joined Team Sweat because I believe in the dignity of all workers and dream of a world where they will have the opportunities that I have.
- Ken Homan
(I joined Team Sweat) because I am concerned about the working conditions in other countries and would like to be an activist on (the workers) behalf.
- Linda Coffey
I have the opportunity to make competitive wages and have rights at work, everybody else should too. We need this planet to unite in peace and be free from poor working conditions, hunger, and strife. I am joining to inform others around me of these issues!
- Crystal Brecht
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More Consumers Join Team Sweat

December 18th, 2008
Team Sweat:
Here are more consumers that just joined the fight against Nike’s sweatshops.
Peace, Jim Keady
I would like to join Team Sweat because, as human beings, we have the responsibility to look out for one another.  We are our brother’s keeper!  Jesus Christ said the greatest commandment was to love the Lord your God with all your heart and soul and that the second was to love others as you love yourself; that all other commandments fall under these.  Simply put, it was hard for me to sit through your presentation without feeling some type of way.  For people to be exploited like this is unacceptable.  I realize that the only way things will change is if people like me decide to do something about it… just like Team Sweat.  I hope that others will come to realize this as well.  Time will tell. God Bless.
- Tyler McKittrick 
Jim came to speak to our business ethics class. I really believe in what he’s trying to do with Nike - and eventually other companies. I would love to be a part of the movement that could change the business/manufacturing relationship!
- Schuyler Korab
 
You came to my school and got my attention. So I would like to help.
- Taylor Santoro
 
I saw your presentation at my school and it really made me think about the products I buy. I never put much thought into how my clothes and athletic wear was made. i want to help make a difference in the lives of sweatshop workers
- Caileigh
 
I joined Team Sweat because I feel that Nike is lying to the world about its sweatshop practices. I feel their conditions and wages provided to those who work in factories that manufacture Nike products is appalling and immoral.
- Erica Karger-Gatzow
 
(I joined Team Sweat) to support a cause that’s fighting for human rights and take a step towards ending the injustice!
- Jill
 
Jim just spoke at my school–and by just, I mean that he started about two hours ago. When I got home, I went and joined EFJ and now I’m joining Team Sweat because I want to show that I care. Furthermore, I want my caring to inspire my peers and those who follow me to take a stand and work to create positive action. Apathy gets us nowhere. The time to speak out is now.
- Ellie Stone
 
I joined Team Sweat to help in the cause of social justice for employees of Nike. The employees of Nike should be paid living wages, because their human dignity is not being met with wage slavery. The employees of Nike should be compensated for their work with enough to raise them out of their poverty and not continue the cycle of human devastation. I no longer wish to participate in a system of global capitalism that exploits those worst off for the benefit of those best off.
- Isham Christie
 
I want to put an end to worker exploitation.
- Kevin Hoeger
 
(I joined Team Sweat) because I don’t want to just sit back and say “Oh that’s a shame”. I want to help do something about it, even if it is small. Just something.
- Eric Bartusch
 
I saw Jim Keady at the 2008 SOA rally in Georgia and his presentation blew my mind. He was a really nice guy and spent some time talking my friends and I. He was absolutely terrific and really got me thinking.
- Michaela McCoy
 
I witnessed Jim speak at The University of Saint Thomas in Minnesota. We have been discussing the topic of sweatshops in my Social Justice classes, and as a devout Christian/Catholic I morally oppose almost everything that sweatshops stand for. I want to take a stand and fight the man!
- Matthew Baer
 
I am joining Team Sweat because I saw Jim Keady speak. I went in knowing little to nothing more about Nike than they are bad. Becoming aware of all the facts inspired me to get off my butt and join the cause. TEAM SWEAT YOU ARE AMAZING!!!!
- Rita Richardson
 
I saw a presentation at the SOA protest and was shocked. I think it is a very important issue that the Jesuit schools with their social justice focus should be considering.
- Sarah Holland
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More Consumers Join Team Sweat

December 4th, 2008
Team Sweat:
More consumers have joined the fight against Nike’s sweatshops this week.  Below are their responses to the question, “Tell us why you joined Team Sweat?”
Peace, Jim Keady
I would like to take part in this wonderful organization of actually bringing people together to raise awareness of the horrible things going on behind closed doors.
- Haley
I was at the SOA Teach-In and heard Mr. Jim Keady speak and was taken away. I would love to learn more and get involved with Team Sweat.
- Patrick Nickelson
I joined Team Sweat because I heard Jim Keady speak and was inspired by the cause. I want to be part of a movement that brings justice and life to people. As part of the world and the human family I can’t knowingly allow others to suffer. I believe that Team Sweat is really making a difference and I think the model we are building can change the world.
- Cynthia Moffitt
I want to be part of Team Sweat because I want to raise awareness about this issue and be the voice for the voiceless in the world.
- Halimat Somotan
I joined Team Sweat to further educate myself about social justice issues and to live a more intentional and loving lifestyle.
- Rachel Lyons
Beside the abuse of the workers, adult and children, our economy is being destroyed by the loss of American jobs. It’s a lose, lose situation.
- John Opper
Commitment to social justice.
- Eugene Lepore
Sweatshops are poop.
- Ben Knapp
I saw Jim at the Jesuit Teach-in in Columbus, GA.
- Colin Padja
After today’s brilliant lecture at Temple University and seeing what the situation is with Nike sweatshops, I must get involved to help stop the exploitation of flesh and blood in the name of capitalism. Though I support capitalism, I won’t stand by and see it destroy, defy the existence of mankind. Tiger Woods, Michael Jordan need to look at this exploitation for what it is and draw parallels to how minorities/blacks were treated not so long ago through low wages and poor working conditions (note: I’m black so I think this would be a fair assessment). Until there is significant improvement I’ll try to persuade people I know not to support Nike and others like it!!
- Zayne Bean
Why not?
- Rush Rehm
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Get Your Team Sweat “Slavery” T-Shirt

November 25th, 2008
Students who purchased a “Slavery” shirt at a Team Sweat event
 
We just got in a new shipment of our very popular “Slavery” T-shirts and we would love get you one for the holiday season.  You can get your shirt online at the Educating for Justice Store.  If you are interested in doing a large order for your school, community or church group, send an email to info@teamsweat.org and I will be sure to accommodate you.  Each shirt you buy helps to keep the Team Sweat campaign going and by wearing your shirt, you help spread the word about the fight against Nike’s sweatshops. 
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Finalizing Plans for Visit to Indonesia with Nike Executives

November 25th, 2008
Jim Keady at a meeting with Nike workers in Tangerang, Indonesia
 
This week I am finalizing plans for my upcoming visit to Indonesia with members of Nike’s Corporate Responsibility Team.  This trip is unprecedented in the more than ten years I have spent fighting against the injustices in Nike’s sweatshops.  The specific goals and objectives for the trip are still being developed, but I am hopeful that this will mark the beginning of a much more productive level of engagement with Nike at the highest levels of management.  In a recent communication with a member of Nike’s CRT, I suggested that our trip include the following: spending at least one day living on the wages of a Nike factory worker; spending at least one night sleeping at the home of a worker; and working at least one shift at a factory.  I am still negotiating with them to make these things happen, I will keep you posted.  Along with my discussions with Nike, I am also coordinating with Team Sweat’s Indonesia-based organizers to guarantee that as many workers as possible will have a chance to share their concerns firsthand with decision makers from Nike. 
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Bring “Behind the Swoosh” to your Campus, Community, or Church

November 25th, 2008
Jim Keady talks with a student after a “Behind the Swoosh” event.
In the coming months I will be presenting, “Behind the Swoosh: Sweatshops and Social Justice” at schools in Minnesota, North Dakota, Massachusetts, North Carolina, Florida, Pennsylvania, and Georgia.  I would love to come and speak to your campus, community or church.  The more people we can educate about Nike’s sweatshops, the more grassroots pressure we can exert on Nike to do the right thing.  If you are interested in hosting me and would like more information on available dates, fees, etc. email me at info@teamsweat.org or call me at 732.988.7322.  You can also learn more about the program here. 
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Team Sweat at the Ignatian Family Teach-In

November 25th, 2008
Students pack a lecture hall to hear “Behind the Swoosh”
 
This past weekend I was blessed to be a presenter at the Ignatian Family Teach-In in Columbus, GA.  The IFT takes place each year in conjunction with the annual vigil to shut down the School of the Americas.  I was really inspired by the weekend and came home filled with a renewed passion to fight against Nike’s sweatshops and to fight for justice for the workers that produce Nike’s products.  Along with seeing a lot of old friends from the social justice movement, I was able to share my Behind the Swoosh presentation with about 600 students from across the nation, many of whom now want to bring the program to their schools.  About 200 hundred of these students signed up to get Team Sweat updates and many have JOINed Team Sweat and their thoughts or videos can now be seen www.teamsweat.org
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More Consumers Join Team Sweat

November 25th, 2008
Team Sweat:
Here are more consumers that have recently joined the fight against Nike’s sweatshops.
Peace, Jim Keady
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I feel that everyone has a responsibility to treat each and every other human being with respect and dignity. From what I can tell, the Nike Corporation is permitting the people who make their product to be abused and used for monetary profit.
- Jeffrey Merritt

I joined because I believe people’s basic rights should not be violated. Corporations already making huge amounts of money need to stop enslaving workers from third world countries.
- Phil Dage

I heard Jim speak this past weekend in Columbus, GA at the Ignation Solidarity Network’s Teach In. I was inspired by what he said and I feel compelled to join him and Team Sweat.
- Brenton Roman

I met Jim at the SOA convention, and was one of the annoying kids that sat right in front on the floor. Anyways, I completely agreed with every point he made, and found his program very inspiring, and feel something must be done. With every new person, change is coming.
- Tony DeMarco

I saw Jim Keady speak at the Ignation Family Teach-in in 2008 and knew I had to join team sweat. Sweatshop labor practices are too prevalent and too dangerous to go unchecked.
- John Kennedy

I joined Team Sweat because I believe in equality for all people, regardless of economic class.
- Elsie Hadley

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University of Washington Approves Nike Deal Over Student Protests

November 25th, 2008

The University of Washington signed a $33.8 million dollar deal with Nike this week, despite strong student protests over Nike’s continued sweatshop abuses.  You can listen to a KUOW radio news program about the decision at: 

UW signs with Nike

To contact the students at the UW who are on the frontlines of this fight and offer them your support, visit:

UW Student Labor Action Project

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Team Sweat - Siena College 8

November 19th, 2008

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Team Sweat - Siena College #7

November 19th, 2008

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Team Sweat - Siena College #6

November 19th, 2008

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Team Sweat - Siena College #5

November 19th, 2008

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Team Sweat - Siena College #4

November 19th, 2008

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Team Sweat - Siena College #3

November 19th, 2008

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Team Sweat - Siena College #2

November 19th, 2008

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Team Sweat - Siena College #1

November 19th, 2008

Team Sweat - MO State #4

November 19th, 2008

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Team Sweat - MO State 3

November 19th, 2008

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Team Sweat - MO State 2

November 19th, 2008

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More Consumers Join Team Sweat

November 13th, 2008
I believe all workers have a fundamental right to get paid a living wage.
- Melinda Stone
 
Jim Keady came to the MSU campus and did a presentation on Nike Sweatshops not to long ago. He definitely got me all fired up and ready to fight Nike. Now, I am trying to put together a presentation on the Nike Sweatshops to give in one of my classes.
- Katie Helterbrand
 
Today when Mr. Keady gave his speech at St. Augustine Prep I couldn’t believe what I was hearing! I felt I need to take action and do what I can to help get the workers in these Nike sweatshops their proper wages by donating some of my own money. I feel the need to spread the word of Nike’s injustices and what Team Sweat does. I also joined because I am interested to have updates on your progress such as how the trips to Indonesia go. I have felt motivated today to take action and to JUST DO IT.
- Frank Sortino
 
These hard workers in Indonesia deserve better.
- Jake Smejkal
 
I joined Team Sweat because those workers should not be put in these terrible jobs and not be able to even afford two or three meals a day. Also, its just terrible to see that it would take a hardworking man nine and a half years to equal what Tiger Woods makes in one round of golf.
- Austin Eichinger
 
Jim Keady visited my school in south Jersey, St. Augustine Prep, and I really think this is a great organization and want to be a part of it.
- Tyler Cirillo
 
I joined because I had the assembly at my school (St. Augustine Prep) and what was said touched me.
- Corey Allen
 
Jim Keady came to my school and he really raised awareness for me and also for my many classmates. The basketball team is considering taping over the Nike sign for our shoes during the season to protest what Nike is doing. I think it’s great what Mr. Keady is trying to do and that’s why I joined Team Sweat!
- Adam Dandrea
 
I want to end the injustice that the Nike employees are facing in the sweatshops.
- Matthew Pfeiffer
 
Hi Jim, I hope you are doing well. I heard you speak this past 07-08 school year at Bellarmine during my year of volunteer service and it was moving. I have shared the information with family and friends and we have begun to take small steps in the right direction. Please add me to the Team Sweat mailing list so that I may keep involved in the campaign to close Nike’s sweatshops. Thank you for your inspiration! God Bless and God speed!
- Daniel Valcazar II
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Aren’t those Nike sweatshop jobs better than nothing?

October 28th, 2008

For a country like Indonesia, with a high unemployment and underemployment rate, any job is better than no job at all.  The common myth that Nike workers and the international solidarity movement want companies to leave developing countries like Indonesia, is absolutely false. Indonesian women and men want to work, will gladly work for Nike, and are typically proud of the work that they do. However, they do not want to be and do not have to be exploited in such work. This question, “Aren’t these jobs better than no jobs at all?” begs another question: Why must we talk about these jobs in the extreme?  Does it have to be, “You either take the job as is or have no job at all.”  Where is the middle ground between these extremes?” Team Sweat believes that any person who is willing to work hard for a successful company, well over 40 hours per week, should be able to afford three meals per day, a comfortable and clean place to sleep, housing, drinking water and basic health care at the very least.

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Should I boycott Nike?

October 28th, 2008

No. Team Sweat is not calling for a boycott, because the workers have not called for a boycott of Nike products. A boycott has the potential to threaten the jobs of workers whom we are trying to support. A key component in any solidarity campaign is listening to those persons who are affected by an injustice, rather than dictating what we believe a good answer might be from a Western perspective.

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Why does Team Sweat focus on Nike?

October 28th, 2008

Nike is the leader of the sportswear industry, controlling roughly 44% of the industry, more than Adidas and Reebok combined, which each control roughly 12%. When Nike sets a standard, the industry traditionally follows. If Nike were to set a standard, in which they systematically listen and respond to the demands of their subcontracted employees, the rest of the industry would have to follow suit both to remain competitive and because of public pressure which would follow.

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What is a Sweatshop?

October 28th, 2008

There are numerous definitions for the term “sweatshop”. Team Sweat defines sweatshops as a factory or other location where:

* Workers are paid a wage that does not allow them to meet their most basic needs and/or to take care of a small family.
* Workers face hazardous working conditions and/or verbal, physical, psychological, or sexual abuse.
* Workers face repression and intimidation when attempting to form independent unions.
* Owners/Managers of the factory refuse to engage in good-faith bargaining with workers regarding wages and working conditions.

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More consumers join Team Sweat!

October 27th, 2008
I joined because I am passionately against slave labor and sweatshops. In high school I was one of few in the Slave Labor News Committee. Our whole objective was to inform everyone in school and anyone who visited our website about all the terrible sweatshops and the slave labor. I really hope that we can end this terrible treatment.  - Kate
 
I went to a lecture tonight given by Mr. Keady and it really moved me and made me want to help stop the social injustice that is going on in all of these countries.  - Kristi, MO State
 
I watched a presentation of Behind the Swoosh on my Missouri State campus and I was moved to get active in making this slavery stop.  - Craig, MO State
 
I saw Keady’s presentation tonight at Missouri State University and I want more information on how I can help!  - Melissa, MO State
 
I am joining Team Sweat because the way people working in Nike’s factories are expected to live is immoral and Nike needs to be forced into action.  Whatever little my joining can do to help, I am eager to do something.  - Katie H.
 
I joined Team Sweat because I want to see Nike change their policies and end the injustices that plague their workers. After realizing that this issue was too important to go ignored, I brought the Behind the Swoosh presentation to Chatham High School in the hopes that more would become educated on this issue. And they were. We had amazing responses to the program, and I am hopeful that Team Sweat can be influential enough to keep gaining supporters like my classmates to ultimately change one of the largest corporate giants in the world. To Nike: The consumers want a change. The investors want a change. And, most importantly, the workers are calling for your help. STOP THE ABUSE!  - Allison R.
 
I am joining Team Sweat to ensure workers in sweatshops are paid a living wage. They need to be guaranteed collective bargaining rights. Factory workers around the world deserve these rights, whether they are making Jordan’s for Nike or sports equipment and clothing for ANY other company. As the leading sports equipment producer, Nike must set the bar. Unfortunately, I cannot proudly display the Swoosh.  - Kendra, Siena College
 
I joined Team Sweat because I was appalled and disgusted by the images I saw on Jim Keady’s video. Making people live in those conditions is inhumane, especially when all it would take is a small sacrifice on the part of rich. Nike has the money and power to change the wages and I want to help convince them to act righteously. - Chris, Siena College
 
I want sweatshops to be eliminated. Nike needs to stop taking advantage of third world countries!  - Caroline R.
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Nike Sweatshop Cartoon

October 21st, 2008

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Team Sweat - Consumers

October 9th, 2008
  • I just saw Jim’s presentation at UNH and it was amazing. I would like to do what I can to help this cause. -Elizabeth B.
  • I just wanted to thank Jim for coming to UNH tonight and giving a great presentation. I’m really excited to get OXFAM UNH involved with this issue and start to plan an event based around it. Thank you for giving me the Behind the Swoosh film on good faith that I would donate…I did in fact just donate on this website….I wish I could give more but alas I am a student. Good luck with your fight and I’m excited for OXFAM UNH to join! - Kayla
  • I saw the “Behind the Swoosh” presentation at the University of New Hampshire.  I had already known a lot about sweatshops, but thought this presentation was excellent. - Lindsey F.
  • I was inspired by your presentation held at the University of New Hampshire. I feel I know too much and not doing a little to help would go against all the morals I was brought up with. - Amanda W.
  • I wanna join because Mr. Keady came to my school and gave a presentation about the unfair conditions that these workers have to go through, if they wanna work for those companies, then that’s fine, they can, no one said that they should have to get paid money that they cant even live off of. its not fair, and i think if enough people join, and we can get something going eventually they’re going to have to listen to us, and they’re going to have to do the right thing, or we wont stop. everyone was created equally, and we should make sure that this is what happens. - Mercedes A.
  • I believe the work and advocacy that Team Sweat, Jim and his partners are so dedicated to and passionate about is important and admirable. I remember the first time I watched and learned about the situation that transpired at St. Johns.  I was inspired by Jim’s stance and appalled by the fact that these types of operations and business models exist and are supported with no questions asked. I have not purchased a Nike product since that day over 8 years ago and will likely never buy another one. I always grab the opportunity to speak with folks on this topic and encourage others to be vocal and support Team Sweat in the fight against greed and for human and workers rights. - Bill K
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