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
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 firstname.lastname@example.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.
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.
Because in the struggle to make this a reality… we are not powerless.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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 email@example.com or call me at 732.988.7322.
Thanks in advance for your support and Happy Holidays!
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.
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.
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!
(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!
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
(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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.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.”
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
NO KILL DATE
Pat Clark: 718-852-2808; email@example.com
Jim Keady 732-988-7322, firstname.lastname@example.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.”
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.
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 email@example.com no later than July 10th as arrangements will need to be made to get member proxies so you can enter the meeting.
By Ellie Faulkner
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.
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.
We are making a focused effort this year to get Nike to disclose the wage rates for all of their overseas factories.
How has Nike responded?
To date, Nike has refused to disclose the wage rates for all of their overseas factories.
What does Nike say about factory workers wages?
As I like to say, “Nike is a little schizophrenic on the factory worker wage issue.” Check out the statements below and you will understand why I feel this way.
Nike Founder and Chairman of the Board, Phil Knight on Nike Workers’ Wages
When asked by a PBS reporter if he felt comfortable that Nike factory workers were making a living wage, Phil Knight responded:
“Absolutely. No question about it.”
Mr. Knight was emphatic that workers are paid a living wage, however, he provided no data to back up his claim.
Nike’s 2006 Corporate Responsibility Report on Nike Workers’ Wages
When discussing the issue of living wages, Nike’s 2006 CR Report stated that:
“Some worker advocates suggest that a living wage should be paid. We do not support approach.”
Wait a second. Didn’t Phil Knight say that workers were “absolutely” being paid a living wage, “no question about it”? If Nike’s founder and Chairman of the Board said that workers are being a living wage, why would Nike release a statement in their CR Report saying that Nike does not support living wages be paid to factory workers?
Vada Manager, Former Nike Director of Global Issues Management on Nike Workers’ Wages
When asked by a reporter from HBO Sports about wages for Nike’s factory workers, Vada Manager, Nike’s Director of Global Issues Management said:
“(Nike) 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.”
In this statement, Nike’s Director of Global Issues Management said that Nike has the power to raise workers wages. (Remember this when you read the next Nike statement.) He also said that Nike’s Code of Conduct “provides wages that far surpass regional or national minimums.” This is a lie. Here is what Nike’s Code of Conduct actually states with regard to worker compensation.
“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.”
Where exactly in this paragraph does Nike provide for “wages that far surpass regional or national minimum wages?”
Hannah Jones, Nike Vice President for Corporate Responsibility on Nike Workers’ Wages
In response to a letter from me, Hannah Jones, Nike’s VP for Corporate Responsibility, wrote the following on April 19, 2009.
“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.”
So, Ms. Jones, Nike’s VP for Corporate Responsibility is saying:
1. That Nike gathers wage data to “verify” that factories are paying the legal minimum wage. This means that Nike has the wage rates for all their production plants.
2. That Nike cannot “mandate what wages should be paid.” But didn’t Vada Manager say above that, “Nike raised wages 70 percent in Indonesia”? If Nike raised wages, doesn’t that mean that they can mandate what wages should be paid?
3. That data on wages “is not something that we (Nike) collect.” But didn’t she say in her first sentence above that Nike audits factories to ensure that they “comply with local legal minimum wages”? When you audit something, don’t you collect data on it? How could Nike be sure that factories are in compliance if this data is “not something we collect”?
4. That based on her statements “Nike cannot disclose workers’ wage rates.”
Clearly Nike wants consumers and investors to remain in the dark on the issue of workers’ wages in their overseas production plants.
So, what do we do to get this information from Nike?
In their 2006 CR Report, Nike said that “transparency is the first step to open-source problem solving.” Given this and the information above, don’t you feel that Nike has a responsibility to their consumers and investors to be transparent and publicly disclose the raw data on factory workers’ wages?
Do you want to join us in demanding that Nike publicly disclose wage rates?
If you said, “yes,” here is what you can do.
1. Send an email right now to Nike CEO, Mark Parker at firstname.lastname@example.org and demand that he publicly disclose wage rates for Nike’s overseas factories.
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.
Sharapova nets $75m Nike deal
The Sydney Morning Herald
January 12, 2010
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.
”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.
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.
By Nina Shapiro in Business, Education
Tuesday, Jan. 5 2010
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.”
By Pete Jackson
Originally published at crosscut.com
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 email@example.com.
Puget Sound Business Journal (Seattle) - Portland, Ore. Business Journal
Tuesday, January 5, 2010
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.”
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 firstname.lastname@example.org or call me at 732.988.7322.
UF Students get a glimpse of new Gator football uniforms
By Nathan Crabbe
The Gainesville Sun
Tuesday, November 24, 2009
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 email@example.com.
by Todd Finkelmeyer
The Capital Times (Madison)
December 8, 2009
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
If the situation isn’t remedied, the university could end its apparel
contract with Nike — a deal which brings the university nearly $50,000
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
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
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
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
Originally Posted on www.firedoglake.com
Wednesday December 9, 2009 8:45 pm
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.
“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: firstname.lastname@example.org
By Brent Hunsberger, The Oregonian
December 30, 2009, 8:56PM
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.
(I joined Team Sweat because I saw a ) very impressive presentation by Jim Keady at my school, plus my conviction in the principles of Catholic social justice teachings. I am a Catholic high school and college teacher.
- John Groch
Jim Keady spoke at my high school today and his speech was great. I saw Behind the Swoosh and listened to him and it changed the way I look at Nike as a company. I will be sending Phil Knight e-mails about the workers’ wages issue and try to help out your cause.
- Mac Ryan
I saw Jim’s presentation today and was astounded at the conditions that the workers live in. Any support I can give is worth my time a hundred fold. Human rights should not be so blatantly violated.
- Christopher Mulvey
Jim Keady came and visited Saint Joseph’s Preparatory School on November 17, 2009 and informed my peers and I the standards of people that work for Nike over seas and i want to make a difference in any way I can.
- John Antiskay
I joined team sweat because Mr. Keady came to my school, and made me realize what injustices are going on in the world, specifically Indonesia.
- Tom Pierce
I’m joining Team Sweat because as a student and consumer, I had no idea about this issue until I heard Jim Keady speak at the Ignatian Teach In in Columbus and I feel that everyone should know about this issue. I am joining because as a human being and Christian, I cannot be a part of keeping the Nike workers or any sweat shop workers in poverty, I must be a part of a group to help them because the more of us there are working for justice, the more swiftly it will arrive.
- Jasmine Schwartz
Hi Team Sweat, I am just a Mum in Australia (I live in northern New South Wales) and I was asked to talk about slavery and ethical sourcing at a recent church event. We had receivied permission to show part of `Behind the Swoosh’ - so 60 women at a church women’s breakfast saw this short and were moved by it. Thanks for making this documentary, I just wanted to encourage you that the message is still getting out - in places pretty far away from you!
I am not sure how do describe it but I hate the injustice sweatshops have caused.
- Jeff Meckstroth
I saw your presentation at the Ignation Family Teach in and it inspired me.
- Kelly Dean
I listened to your interview with Steve Runner on his podcast and am interested in learning more.
- Annah Maynes
I attend Sacred Heart Prep, and we get all of our sports uniforms and sweats from Nike. I know that we have some deal cut so we get a discount with them but we also spend a couple of weeks first in personal ethics sophomore year and again in social ethics junior year learning about the injustices of sweat shops, watch documentaries, and learn about the conditions workers are put through, then we go out for sports practice that afternoon and suit up in documented sweat shop clothing, I mean come on! It wigs me out and I really want to get involved in learning more of how I can help stop sweat shops to just be allowed to continue the way they are. Its like the money is put before other people’s livelihood, WHAT!
- Sean Reidy
I am for the rights of all people - and the fair wages that all people deserve! I admire and support your efforts, I am giving a speech in my speech class at hocking college about why people should stop buying Nike products. I am finding all of your information very helpful. I hope to inform a lot of new people about Nike.
- Stephanie Renner
I want to do something to help the people that work in the sweatshops.
- Colin Dabagian
Dear Mr. Jim Keady,
I am a sophomore at St. Joseph’s Prep in Philadelphia, a school you spoke at a few weeks ago, and I was certainly moved by the speech you gave. Over the years, I have been attracted to Nike and other athletic apparel, and love finding the new Lebron’s, or the new Jordan’s, and get excited about buying them. My outlook has certainly changed, though, over the past few months. My religion teacher showed us the Behind the Swoosh video, and that was the first time I had heard of you and your organization. I knew it had to be a big deal nationally if you were talked about on Sportscenter!
I was amazed, truly amazed, at what kind of conditions you had to endure while you stayed in Indonesia. I think you showed tremendous courage to actually live among the people there to show people here what is going on with Nike. I knew who Phil Knight was before your video, but I certainly did not know of how he is exploiting his workers throughout the world.
I really looked forward to listening to your speech in person because I wanted to hear how you presented this kind of news to kids like us. I paid close attention to the speech and tried to picture myself in helping with this cause. During the speech, you did something that really got to me because of how I have been raised, and what true Jesuit education is. You had pulled out a poster that had the SJP logo, and said “Men For Others” on it. On the bottom of the poster was the Nike swoosh. I remember the whole theater sitting in silence, waiting for what you had to say. That moment had gave me a feeling of guilt, but I know you were trying to make us change to help the cause.
Again, I really think what you are doing to help those workers requires a lot of courage and I extremely admire that. I myself wish to do something in the future to help people who don’t have the opportunities that I have. Most of all, I wanted to thank you for coming to my school and giving that presentation. I really enjoyed it, and have been trying to do some of the things you told me to do. I have joined your facebook group and invited others to join it too! If there is anything else you suggest I could do I would be glad to hear from you.
Sincerely, Kevin Oberlies
Dear Mr. Keady,
I would just like to thank you and share some thoughts of mine about the talk you gave at St. Joe’s Prep a few weeks ago. When we were told by our religion teacher that someone would be coming in to talk to us about problems in sweat shops I thought it would be nothing new. I knew that many were mistreated and overworked, but as most people I thought they were lucky that they were able to get a job that pays anything in a third world country. After seeing your documentary though it changed me completely. These people work night and day just to feed themselves and put four walls around them, but if they have any family at all it becomes just a struggle to survive. Nike claims everyone asks for overtime because they love work so much, but it is because they need more money to feed their families. And as a whole we go after Nike because they are the biggest, but if we can just get Nike to increase wages or help the worker in some fashion the whole industry will follow.
I remember you telling us to join Team Sweat and email Nike operatives, but what else can I do to aid the cause? I know eventually with enough help we will defeat Nike and get them to increase wages, until then I hope the cause is strong and anything you need me to do I am here to help. Thank you again and God bless.
Sincerely, Nicholas J. Fattori
Hi,I’m Pavita, and now I’m in the senior year of high school, a private high school in Jakarta. So, I’d known nothing about this issue until one day,my civil teacher took the whole class to watch a documentary film. ‘The rules of the world’. My eyes were widely opened at that moment. How could I just sit down and do nothing while others in my own country, Indonesia, suffer? I was a consumer, but no longer am. Seeing the “Made in Indonesia” note in the small part of the clothes just make me feel bad. That’s why I want to join Team Sweat! Let’s fight
I want to help fight this unfair system. Everyone is equal and should be treated and paid accordingly. Down with capitalism - democracy for all! No to Nike.
- Roseanne Hoger
Dear Mr. Jim Keady,
My name is Chip Heinz and I am a sophomore at Saint Joseph’s Preparatory School. I attended the speech that you delivered to us on Wednesday, November 18, and I have to say that it wasa very enlightening experience.Before the speech, I had heard that Nikeused sweatshops, butI never reallylooked into the issueand, as I am sure is the case with many other teenagers, Inever really cared. After hearing your speech, however,I realized the magnitude and severity of this problem.
After contemplating the hard facts, I came to the conclusion that I should do something about it, so I decided to make up some fliers and post them on the telephone poles around my neighborhood. In doing so, Iwanted toinform asmany people as possible, both locals and mere passersby, about this issue. I also hope that by posting these fliers this issue is brought to public attention and may one day catch the eye of a news station, whether it be by my posters or by your means.
I can only hope that one day Nike acknowledges this situation and willingly does something about it. I am sure that this belief is shared by many people who alone have no power, but united can make a difference in raising awareness about this inhumane problem. If Nike is everforced to shut down or fix foreign wages, I am positive that other companies will becompelled to do the same, thus leading to a global abolishment of sweatshops for all companies who use them.
Sincerely, Chip Heinz
Dear Mr. Keady,
My name is Will Hartz and I am a sophomore at St. Joseph’s Preparatory School where, a few weeks ago, you came to speak with the students regarding the issues of sweatshops in foreign countries and Nike’s role in it. Leading up to your appearance at our school, we were given the privilege to watch your video, Behind the Swoosh. When I saw this film for the first time, it was truly mind-blowing. I have heard people mention Nike and sweatshops together before, but honestly, I did not fully believe what they were saying. I could not see how a public corporation such as Nike, being recognized worldwide, and a leader in the industry, could possibly run sweatshops. Unfortunately for myself, and those workers in the sweatshops struggling to make ends meet, I was wrong. The experiment which you and your colleague, Leslie Kretuz, carried out in Indonesia was eye-opening for me. It gave me a firsthand look into the human injustices in our world. Most people have no knowledge on this very important matter and I commend you for taking a stand on this topic. You are able to provide the general public with concrete facts and evidence of these awful events. Having recently gained knowledge regarding Nike’s link to sweatshops, every time I put on a piece of Nike apparel, it makes me stop and think about the lives of the workers that manufactured it, and the injustices that they confront each day of their lives.
The entire Educating for Justice Team has made a tremendous impact for this situation. As you stated in your presentation, you have made significant changes in the plants in Indonesia. These changes, such as a woman’s right to have a menstrual leave and union leaders no longer being abused, killed or threatened by street gangs or the police, have greatly restored the human rights to the workers. Everything that has been done by you and your team, whether small or large, has had an impact and made the lives better for those struggling workers in Indonesia.
I would like to take the time now to thank you for all that you have done so far regarding the issue of sweatshops and all that you will continue to do in the coming years. It takes a lot of courage for a human being to stand up for what he believes in, no matter who tells him not to or it is not sociably acceptable. But instead you keep on going. You have done a great deal in order to change the lives of those that are oppressed, and to ensure that every human being is guaranteed their human rights that they are given at the time of their birth. I hope that this cause may continue to gain strength and I hope that people continue to gain knowledge regarding this very important issue. Best of luck in all that you do and God Bless!
I’m a Creighton University student and a massive Nike supporter who has become concerned about your manufacturing practices in Indonesia. It’s great that you can manufacture at a low cost there, but it seems highly reasonable and undoubtedly ethical to help the workers of your factories to earn a wage that allows them to keep their human dignity. Nike does great work and as a frequent customer I just want to know that Nike workers overseas aren’t being exploited. So until something changes I’m not going to buy anything from Nike. I hope Nike decides to change its practices quicky.
Thanks for your time,
Dear Mr. Parker,
My name is John Mike Devany. I am a senior at Saint Joseph’s Preparatory School in Philadelphia, Pa and was ashamed to find out that my own high school, one which Itake so much pride in, could be endorsed by a corporation that has done so many terrible things. I don’t understand how a corporation with billions of dollars and insurmountable power and resources could allow their own workers in Indonesia to work in such horrible conditions. I just saw Mr. Keady’s presentation on the working conditions Nike places its workers under and think maybe you should go to see it, too. Obviously you do not understand the situation to its fullextent because if you did I am sure you would do something about it.
John Mike Devany
I will not be able to sleep tonight unless I email you.
Today I was inspired to act on behalf of millions of third-world workers by Jim Keady and by Jesuit theologian, William Reiser, S.J., who wrote recently, “Distance from the poor leads to distance from God.” (America, November 16, 2009; page 14)
I plead with you to share a miniscule portion of your company’s billions with the workers who make your wealth possible.
Please give them more than lip service.
chair, religious studies
st. joseph’s preparatory school
My name is Chadi El-Khoury and I am a senior at Creighton University. I am sitting in on Jim Keady’s presentation right now, “Behind the Swoosh, sweatshops and social justice.” He presented on campus last week and is now speaking at the Ignatian Family Teach-in in Columbus, GA. I am disappointed to hear about Nike’s unwillingness to grant workers their right to a living wage. And I am now embarrassed to wear my Nike shoes. Please spare me the shame.
Dear Mr. Parker,
I like your products but I am sad to hear about Nike’s involvement with
sweatshops and not allowing your workers to make a living wage please
SBST Core Team 2009-2010
I am a student at Saint Louis University. I’m currently sitting in Jim
Keady’s talk on Nike’s global workers, and I’m offended that they are
subjected to these conditions. As a concerned consumer, I ask you to
overhaul your practices regarding the treatment of your workers.
Saint Louis University
Student Government Association
Great Issues Committee
I am a senior at Brebeuf Jesuit in Indianapolis, and I have always loved Nike shoes and sportswear. In fact, Nike makes our school’s basketball and football uniforms, and I have a pair of Nike shoes that I have gotten multiple compliments on. However, this weekend I attended a lecture by Jim Keady, an avid social justice activist, like myself. I had never really cared to look at what goes on behind the scenes at Nike factories or other providers of my material possessions, but Mr. Keady’s talk forced me to see the whole picture, which proved to be shocking and very disheartening.
What goes on behind closed doors at Nike factories in third world countries is enough to make me refuse to buy Nike goods and attempt to convince others to do the same until I see some very serious changes. I would like to see your workers being paid a living wage and not being subjected to degrading circumstances and abuses of their rights. I may just be one voice, but I can assure you that this voice will not stop here. I am going to ask Mr. Keady to speak at our school again, and I’m sure this will encourage others to speak out against Nike and other factories that subject their workers to such harsh conditions.
I refuse to turn the other cheek to this injustice, and I think you should know that to more and more people, the story behind the shoe is taking center stage. Thank you for your time.
Although I knew vaguely about sweatshop abuses throughout the world, I am startled to learn that Nike continues to trample on the rights of human beings and inhibits their ability to live in dignity and respect. As I continue to learn more about the inhumane conditions that people live in as sweatshop workers, I am further committed to not supporting Nike or any other company that creates conditions where their employees do not have equal access to basic necessities, things that we as Americans take for granted daily. I will also work to encourage every person I know that your company continues to violate the basic human rights of people across the world. In a time when it is clear that people and the environment are suffering due to our capitalist, consumerist tendencies, I ask that you reconsider what it is that you stand for as a person and as a company. Please think about the nature of the work that you do and how it impacts the lives of people, especially the most vulnerable in our world. I would also like to ask you to consider and respond to the following:
When asked whether or not Nike production workers are paid a living wage, you responded to a PBS reporter, “Absolutely. No question about it.” I would like you to provide the facts that support this assertion by publicly disclosing hourly wage rates for each factory where Nike products are produced. I am confident that you will do this given Nike’s stated commitment that “Transparency is the first step toward open-source approaches to problem solving.” (Nike 2006 CSR Report)
If your company claims it is committed to transparency in its policies and procedures, then providing this information should be no problem at all.
I look forward to your written response to this request.
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.
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.”
Thanks to Team Sweat member, Jeff Ballinger, for sending along the following story about Nike’s Chinese sweatshops. The article talks about “OEMs.” OEMs are “original equipment manufacturers,” companies that make original equipment for Nike.
Peace, Jim Keady
Chinese Media: Nike OEMs In China Alleged To Use Sweatshops
November 18, 2009
Mike, the pseudonym of a person who has allegedly worked as a top executive at a Nike original equipment manufacturer factory in China for six years, is reported in local media as revealing an inside story about sweatshop factories used by Nike OEMs in China.
According to the Daily Economic News report, which consists of a dozen pages, Nike’s Chinese OEMs have been using subcontract labor for many years to make high profits. Shanghai Wande Sports Goods Company and Shanghai Bai’en Sports Goods Company, which are the two major OEMs for Nike’s handmade football business, are alleged to have subcontracted making footballs to workers in remote areas of China between 2003 and 2007.
According to both the Internet news source ifeng.com and China’s Daily Economic News, Mike said that in recent years, Nike’s Chinese football OEMs have used cheap labor from the rural areas of Jiangxi, northern Jiangsu, and Anhui to sew the footballs. He revealed that a finished football is sold at USD8, but it is only priced at USD1 when leaving the factory, while the workers only get USD0.73 for each ball they sew. Mike said that he spent five out the last six years helping the factory hide its behavior when Nike came to audit.
Mike stated that it seemed strange that Nike was not aware of the factory’s illegal practice, given that with a daily production capacity of four or five footballs per person per day the factory, which has a total of about 100 workers, can produce as many as 120,000 footballs each month. Interestingly the factory was even cited by Nike, in its 2008 corporate social responsibility report, as an excellent OEM.
According to Mike, Nike’s CSR department only reviewed such items as the work hours, extra work time and salary amounts on the pay slips provided by the OEM. It is difficult to see purely by looking at the pay slips whether the OEM’s actual output matches its real production capacity, or whether it has been involved in sub-contracting. In addition, Nike’s quality assurance department is only responsible for evaluating the OEM’s product quality and qualified rate. They did know the OEM’s actual output, but they do not audit the actual number of employees of the OEM.
Zhu Jinqian, a spokesperson for Nike, stated to local media that Nike has invited a third-party organization to investigate the OEMs after receiving complaints about them.
Meanwhile many other sports brands, such as Adidas and Puma, are also commissioning third-party organizations to probe into the behavior of their OEMs.
Original story at http://www.chinacsr.com/en/2009/11/18/6603-nike-oems-in-china-alleged-to-use-sweatshops/
On October 29, 2009, I took part in a meeting at TIAA-CREF Headquarters in New York City to discuss how TC could use their roughly $240,000,000.000 investment in Nike stock to bring about change on the ground for Nike’s factory workers.
The hour-long meeting with Roger Ferguson, TC’s CEO, and John Wilson, TC’s Director of Corporate Governance, went very well. I shared information with Mr. Ferguson and Mr. Wilson about my July/August research trip to Indonesia, including the facts that Nike workers in Indonesia are still paid a poverty wage, that they do not have fair union contracts in place, and that there are still basic worker rights being systematically violated.
Mr. Ferguson made a commitment that TC would continue to dialogue with Nike on these issues and to seek documentation from Nike with regard to their monitoring and remediation mechanisms. Along with this effort, I strongly recommended that Mr. Ferguson seek a clear public statement from Nike with regard to the issue of workers’ wages. To date, Nike has been less than consistent on where they stand on this issue and I stressed that consumers and investors have a right to accurate information.
In what can be seen as a positive step forward in TC’s engaging Nike, Mr. Wilson has recently gone on record stating that:
“We… initiated a dialogue with Nike, Inc. about labor and human rights issues.”
Having TC go on public record stating that they are engaging Nike may not seem all that important, but in this fight for justice, every small victory counts.
Phil Knight, the Chairman and founder of Nike, has recenlty been selling off some of his Nike stock.
As reported in the article below, despite the $332,000,000.00 he sold this month, “he remains the company’s largest shareholder by far. He now controls 86.9 million shares of Class A stock, which elects nine of the company’s 12 directors. The stake is worth $5.57 billion, based on Tuesday’s closing price. Knight ranked No. 24 on this year’s Forbes list of the country’s richest people. He has a net worth of roughly $9.5 billion.”
And workers in Indonesia can still live in grinding poverty.
Peace, Jim Keady
Tuesday, October 27, 2009
Knight sells another $37M of Nike stock
Portland Business Journal
Nike Inc. co-founder and Chairman Phil Knight sold nearly $37 million of Nike stock Monday and Tuesday, according to documents filed with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.
Knight has sold $332 million, or 5.1 million shares, of Nike stock in the past two weeks.
The selling spree began on Oct. 14 when Knight acquired 5 million shares of the company’s Class B stock in exchange for 5 million shares of the company’s more powerful Class A stock.
Knight sold the shares for between $62.50 and $66.34.
He remains the company’s largest shareholder by far. He now controls 86.9 million shares of Class A stock, which elects nine of the company’s 12 directors. The stake is worth $5.57 billion, based on Tuesday’s closing price.
Knight ranked No. 24 on this year’s Forbes list of the country’s richest people. He has a net worth of roughly $9.5 billion.
Oregonians pay a 9 percent tax on capital gains, meaning the state will collect roughly $30 million from Knight’s recent stock sales.
Nike (NYSE: NKE) shares remain near a 52-week high after closing Monday up less than 1 percent. In the past year, the stock has ranged between $38.24 and $66.35.
Check out the article below from The Cap Times about student activists pushing the University of Wisconsin-Madison to end their relationship with Nike over labor rights violations.
Campus Connection: Committee asks UW-Madison to end Nike deal
Todd Finkelmeyer | Posted: Tuesday, November 17, 2009 7:15 am |
The University of Wisconsin-Madison’s Labor Licensing Policy Committee voted to recommend that Chancellor Biddy Martin start taking steps to end the university’s apparel contract with Nike, Inc. due to alleged labor rights abuses at two of the company’s factories.
But don’t expect Martin to take any immediate action.
The LLPC’s recommendation on Friday comes after two Nike factories that produce collegiate apparel 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 more than $2 million.
However, the committee’s vote — which came under the urging of the Student Labor Action Coalition — is strictly advisory.
Dawn Crim, a special assistant to the chancellor for community relations, said Monday the chancellor is hoping to hear back from Nike representatives before taking any major action against the company. She said the university is hoping to receive a phone call from Nike by the end of the week.
“Really, this is about engagement and working with them to remediate the problem,” said Crim. “Nobody wins when contracts are ended. Ultimately, it’s about workers and human rights, and if you end the contract you have no leverage.”
As a licensee of UW-Madison apparel, Nike must follow a university code of conduct for producers. This code, among other things, states that companies must pay these legally mandated wages and other benefits.
Nike paid UW-Madison nearly $50,000 this year to use the university insignia and other logos, such as Bucky Badger.
Jan Van Tol, a member of the Student Labor Action Coalition, on Monday said he generally appreciates the attention Martin is giving this topic. Nonetheless, Van Tol said he was hoping that Martin and the university would take a quicker and harsher stand against Nike.
“There is some truth to the fact that, once you cut a contract, you’re kind of out of the game,” said Van Tol, a student member of the university’s Labor Licensing Policy Committee. “But I think it’s also important to remember this is a national issue. So when UW-Madison cuts a contract, it really opens up the space for other universities to take action, too. Often, they’ll look to us as a leader.”
On Nov. 3, Martin wrote a letter to Nike expressing concerns over a Worker Rights Consortium report which spelled out the conduct violations at the two apparel factories in Honduras. Martin wrote to Nike that “ultimately, we believe under the university code of conduct, it is Nike’s responsibility to ensure that alleged labor rights violations by your subcontractors are remedied.” She then asked that Nike provide detailed information about how the company is dealing with the situation.
Martin requested that Nike respond by Nov. 11. But as of Monday afternoon, Crim said Nike’s only response came on Nov. 10, when it sent out a generic letter to all universities who have been asking about the situation. In it, Nike indicated it “is deeply concerned about the issues raised by the Worker Rights Consortium … ”
“We don’t consider that to be a response to the chancellor’s letter,” said Crim. “That was Nike simply communicating to license directors around the country and was an update of what was going on. It was in no way a response.”
The Nike statement added “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.”
(I joined Team Sweat because) Jim came to my school and inspired me. - Dylan Nolan
I’ve played soccer all my life, and for most of I have used Nike cleats because I think that they are really comfortable. I saw your video a few months ago and since then I have been trying to find Athletic companies that make soccer cleats that don’t use sweatshops, or exploit people in any way. I haven’t found any yet. I was wondering if there is any brand that is fair trade that makes soccer cleat? If you guys could email that would be awesome, and very appreciated. I believe in what you guys are doing also if there is any way to get involved, please email me. Thank you. - Rico Cabrera
@Rico… There currently is not a major brand that is “sweatfree” that supplies soccer boots. So, I would encourage you to do what I do. Cut the logos off your shoes or cover them up. Yes, we have to wear something to play, but we do not have to walking advertisements for companies that are not in line with our values. Peace, Jim Keady
Jim Keady went to my school, Fordham Prep, and his story touched me and inspired me to help my brothers and sisters that suffer everyday. I am going to raise awareness in my old school which has about 400 children and I’m telling my best friend who goes to another high school and now he is going to address the subject to his class president and religion teachers. I want more ideas to help stop this devilish scheme. - Tony Pecorelli
It (the Nike sweatshop issue) was discussed in class and I want to be part of it (Team Sweat). - Harbakshish Singh
I am passionate about human rights and specifically the rights of children. I am also convinced that one of the problems is the demand that a disposable society with expectations of cheap products places on companies. I also believe that we need to be willing to spend more and buy smartly as consumers to send the message to companies. - Lisa Acheson
I attended your session at Rutgers University-Camden today and wanted to let you know how wonderful I think you are doing. I do plenty of volunteer work helping all different areas of the world. My main charity is helping end child hunger in America. Needless to say I was very honored to attend your session and wanted to let you know that. If you need any help when it comes to spreading the word, please let me know. I would love to be involved in another charity or good organization that involves helping the less fortunate. - Stephanie
I always try to buy sweatshop free products. The injustice that takes place is something I want to help educate more people about. We have a choice every time we buy something, what we buy is what we support. and if more people knew what they were supporting then I believe they would make different decisions. Thanks for all the work you do! - Jessica
(I joined Team Sweat) because I believe in the cause. - Erica Sheeley
It is starting to make me angry that Nike pays very little for more than hard work. And i have a good idea for what we should do to get a small group (10 or 15 people) to be heard. - Matthew Phillips
I took 2 of my junior high girl scouts (Marcy, Marissa) to see your presentation on Thursday, 10/8 at Wilmington College in Ohio. The girls took it upon themselves to, that very night, decorate tee shirts with a message about this issue. My daughter wore hers to school the next day. They also did a pair of jeans the next evening to complete their outfit. I have attached photos for you to see. My daughter did get comments and her teachers were impressed with what she had to tell them about the meaning behind her shirt.
I just wanted to share with you, that it may be a small statement, but the word is getting out! Thanks for a great presentation.
Girl Scout Troop 795
I work for SEIU and no matter where workplace abuses are taking place in this world, we need to fight back the evils of the super wealthy and powerful. - Lance Lindeman
I have followed sweatshop abuses for many years, and being an educator, have exposed many students to problems. Thanks to the work of Jim and Leslie, and of Charlie and others at the National Labor Committee, progress is being made. Sure, it is slow, but it is a step forward. Keep on stepping, Jim, and more and more of us will follow you. - Todd Forman
Well, I was just at a presentation by Jim Keady and was really touched. I was aware of sweatshops and that Nike was a company who participated in inhuman activity. However, I was never present the opportunity to join the cause to stop Nike and this presentation gives me that opportunity. - Melissa Archuleta
A presentation was done at our college, Saint Martins University and took quite an impact on me. I want to join and contribute to bringing justice to this issue. - Chanell Sagon
I saw Jim speak at Saint Martin’s University and was moved by his presentation. This is an issue that requires mass amounts of people to stand up and fight. I am joining this fight. I cannot feel comfortable here in America having everything that I need and most of the stuff I want when there is an injustice so terrible being funded and supported by an enormous American corporation. I realize that there will always be injustice somewhere in the world but Nike is a company that has the ability and the money to change the world, and with great power comes great responsibility. It is time for Nike to stop abusing this power. - Ben Surgalski
Jim Keady had visited my school, CBA, and I agree with his cause. I want these workers to be able to have good standards of living. - Louis Poggioli
I believe that we must put a stop the many injustices that Nike has been participating in through their continued use of sweatshops in Indonesia. - Nick Avino
I’m joining team sweat because of the inspirational lecture Jim Keady delivered at Bucknell University. I am really interested in human rights, which can sometimes be an overwhelming topic because the issues are so large and make you feel so helpless. The progress that Jim Keady has made in his pursuit of workers’ rights in Indonesia gives hope to all of us trying to advocate for human rights. I would love to contribute to the progress made in this worthy cause. I am going to write my email to mark parker right now. - Erika Iouriev
I have joined team sweat because I have been researching you guys for a paper I’m doing on social movements in my persuasion class. What I’ve seen and read makes perfect sense to me and I love what is being done about it! I too am a Christian and I feel that the unfair treatment of sweatshop workers needs to be changed. I feel like I’ve been duped by Nike and I want to dupe them back! - Ryan
I am a high school student who recently sat in a class that Mr. Keady presented to (Christian Brothers Academy) and have just been thinking about the goals of Team Sweat. I also just want to be a part of something that not only is just trying to take down a single world known company, but the overall problem that sweatshops and unfair labor is involved with. - William Gerard
I just learned about (Nike’s) sweatshops and I’m disgusted with the working conditions in Indonesia, China, and everywhere else. I’m embarrassed that I’ve contributed to this fact as a consumer, and I’m going to do all I can to try to change this. I’m going to tell everyone I know about these conditions and I will never buy another (Nike) product as long as I live. (I’m only 19 years old…) - Sydnay Youtz
While I learned about it (Nike’s sweatshops), stopped buying Nike, and bought the (Behind the Swoosh) DVD almost 3 years ago, I was reminded tonight at Jim’s talk of the importance of your mission. It made me super happy that he called my Catholic Jesuit university on selling/branding their athletes with Nike; it angered me when I first came to school and saw that - I don’t remember learning about how sweatshops were a part of Catholic Social Teaching… - Mary Henneberry
I’m from Surabya, Indonesia. I heard about this program from Mr.Keady’s presentation at Creighton University on 11/12/2009. I want to show my support and offer any help I can contribute to the team. - Ayu Pertiwi
I heard you on the fitness rocks podcast (www.fitnessrocks.org). I enjoy Nike and think they can do better…I’ll try and do my bit to help you. - Troy Jensen
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.
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.
I want to thank all of the students and staff that attended my “Behind the Swoosh” lectures last week at Bucknell University (PA) and Willamette University (OR). Special thanks to Sithanda Ntuka and David Kristjanson-Gural for organizing the event at Bucknell and special thanks also to Chase Wiggins and Kate Snurr for organizing the event at Willamette!
And here is a double special shout-out to all the students in the Social Justice College at Bucknell!
By Kristen Lunde
Friday, November 6, 2009 2:41 a.m.
A workshop being held in Grainger Hall today will assess existing methods of global labor standard improvement, specifically in regards to the collegiate apparel industry.
The forum, titled “Improving Labor Standards in Global Supply Chains: Codes of Conduct, Monitoring and Beyond,” will be an exchange of critical and productive points of view about an issue that has been a point of contention on many college campuses, including UW, in recent years.
One of the main goals of the workshop will be to discuss ways universities can be more proactive — rather than reactive — about problems with labor standards, Special Assistant to the Chancellor Dawn Crim said in an e-mail to The Badger Herald.
Additionally, Chancellor Biddy Martin will be attending the workshop as a participant to hear and learn more about global supply chains and labor standards.
“The Labor Licensing Policy Committee and [UW] administration are looking for more effective ways to have a positive impact on human rights in the global apparel industry,” Crim said.
A code of conduct is already in place, which governs UW licensees and aspects of production of anything that bears the UW logo, UW spokesperson John Lucas said in an e-mail to The Badger Herald. When issues arise, they are addressed by UW and its Labor Licensing Policy Committee.
“We have had the code of conduct for the past 10 years. They have been beneficial but have had limited impacts,” Crim said. “We wanted to open up a dialogue to see if new initiatives, processes, etc. are available or have a better impact.”
UW is not the only university dealing with labor standards. Students across the United States have been vocal about their opposition to immoral labor practices related to collegiate apparel.
“Most college campuses are grappling with similar issues when it comes to labor standards. We have invited many of them here to join in the discussion,” Crim said.
Although not involved in planning the workshop, the Student Labor Action Coalition has been actively involved in recent talks regarding labor standards at UW.
SLAC recently asked Martin to pressure Nike after the illegal shut down of two factories in Honduras.
“We hope and expect that she will do better than her predecessor by holding Nike accountable through all available means — including severance of Nike’s licensing contract if necessary,” Jan Van Tol of SLAC said in an e-mail to The Badger Herald.
According to Van Tol, students consistently demand universities like UW use their international clout to pressure apparel companies to end sweatshops and to respect laborers, as well as their right to unionize.
UW has been one of the most progressive universities in trying to end abuses that occur in the apparel industry, Lucas said.
Although the code of conduct and discussions such as this forum are signs of exemplary progress, Van Tol thinks there is much more that can be done with existing tools.
By Andrea Hammer
Assistant Campus Editor, The Purdue Exponent
Publication Date: 11/06/2009
Eight students with Purdue Organization for Labor Equality marched to the University president’s office reception area with a “gift” of $2 and a half million in play money Thursday and were later removed from the building by University police.
In support of labor equality, the students marched into Hovde Hall and went to President France Córdova’s office to make their concerns known. Organization member Dan Kercher, a senior in the College of Liberal Arts, said the organization found out about a violation of Purdue’s Code of Conduct with apparel licenses at two factories in Honduras.
According to the Worker Rights Consortium, the factories, which produced Nike apparel, were closed by subcontractors without any kind of warning to workers. The workers were owed $2.5 million in severance pay when the factories were shut down. The equipment was liquidated, providing the workers with a small portion of their money, but they are still owed more than $2.1 million.
After reading a page-long letter detailing their grievances, students dumped the play money on the floor of the reception area. An administrator insisted that he would take the letter, but said the students needed to leave. When the students were asked to pick up the play money, they refused.
Gautam Kumaraswamy, a junior in the College of Engineering and a member of the organization, said the students were under the impression they were in a public place because they were in a reception area and they did not want the play money back.
“What we put down in there is what we gave to the University,” he said.
After handing over the letter, students were ordered to leave the building by Purdue Police.
Brian Napoletano, a graduate student who participated, said letting sweatshops produce clothing with the Purdue logo on it is sending the wrong message.
“By letting them use the Purdue logo, they’re representing Purdue,” he said.
Purdue Police Chief John Cox said he supports freedom of speech, but students must be within University policies with their events and protests.
“They can work with space management to arrange the use of space,” he said.
Purdue spokeswoman Jeanne Norberg said this breach of contract by Nike will be handled the same way as last year’s incident with Russell Athletics. After investigating claims of labor inequality brought forth by the Organization for Labor Equality last year, Purdue cut ties with Russell.
“This has just been brought to our attention,” Norberg said. “We have a committee that will look at it.”
Below is a letter to Nike CEO, Mark Parker from Sarah Meyers, a swimmer and student at St. Martin’s University in Lacey, WA.
Have you sent your email to Mr. Parker yet?
His email address is email@example.com.
Peace, Jim Keady
My name is Sarah Meyers and I am a student at Saint Martin’s University. Yesterday afternoon I attended a presentation by Jim Keady and I was amazed at what he had to say, and amazed at the proof he brought with him. Jim informed me that out of the 6 billion people on this earth, only 1% has a college education. I am on my way toward being in that lucky 1% of humanity.
I was wondering if you K N E W of the power you, and Nike, has to change thousands and thousands of people’s lives. Do you know?
Do you even know what a DOLLAR is worth to some people? To most people? To thousands of your employees? (and YES they are Nike’s employees because they work in a giant building with NIKE on it, and build all of Nike’s products etc) A dollar is a huge deal to them. It’s their daily bread. They get to spend one per day. What would you do if you could only spend one dollar per day? Do you think you couldn’t do it? Neither could I. You are forcing this neighborhood, these families, to do something impossible.
I have talked to my swim team coach back home, and we will not be purchasing Nike swim gear until your company stops the lies, and pays your employees what they are worth as human beings.
The American Federation of Teachers has passed a resolution that publicly pressures TIAA-CREF (www.tiaa-cref.org) to do more to engage Nike and other companies on labor issues. TIAA-CREF currently owns approximately $230,000,000.00 in Nike stock, making them one of the largest institutional owners of Nike stock in the world.
AFT’s Urges TIAA-CREF to Promote Fair Labor Standards
As an organization, the AFT is concerned not only with the working conditions of faculty and staff in higher education, but also with promoting fair labor standards for all workers.
Today, the AFT Executive Council continued that commitment by urging TIAA-CREF to promote better corporate governance and social responsibility among the companies in which it invests. A significant number of AFT members in higher education have their pensions invested in TIAA-CREF. In response to concerns raised by those members, the Council unanimously passed a resolution entitled “Aligning TIAA-CREF Investment Policies with Participant Ethical Standards.”
“This resolution is intended to press TIAA-CREF to use their resources and investment capacity to push corporations to act ethically and responsibly with regard to labor” stated AFT vice-president Phil Smith, who moved the adoption of the resolution. Smith, President of the United University Professions at the State University of New York, went on to note the resolution was “in line with the socially conscious perspective of AFT members.”
The resolution calls for TIAA-CREF to:
* strengthen its commitment and to devote further resources to promote human, civil and labor rights in its investment screening, shareholder advocacy, community investments and public policy; and
* substantially strengthen its capacity for the oversight and engagement of the companies in which it invests; and
* adopt an explicit policy of engaging all of its portfolio companies to promote the ILO Core Labor Standards, which include:
* Elimination of all forms of forced or compulsory labor
* Effective abolition of child labor
* Equality of opportunity and treatment
* Freedom of association
* Right to collective bargaining
* significantly increase its transparency and disclosure of its screening practices and its shareholder advocacy on issues of human, civil and labor rights.
AFT has been in an on-going dialogue with TIAA-CREF on these issues and will continue to encourage TIAA-CREF to improve its corporate governance guidelines in these key areas related to labor.
JIM KEADY, Founder of Team Sweat
Twelve years ago this month I got involved in the fight to end Nike’s sweatshop abuses. Twelve years is one third of my life. It’s somewhat surreal when I think of it like that.
In 1997, I was in my first season as a graduate assistant coach with the Men’s Soccer Team at St. John’s University, the defending NCAA Division I National Champions. Along with my coaching, I was pursuing a masters degree in Theology. For one of my first classes, I was charged with writing a research paper linking moral theology and sports. I researched Nike’s sweatshops in light of Catholic Social Teaching. Simultaneously, the SJU Athletic Department was negotiating a $3,500,000.00 million dollar endorsement contract with Nike.
Within six months I was at the center of a campus-wide debate over whether SJU should ink the deal. Within ten months I was given an ultimatum by my head coach, “Wear Nike and drop this issue, or resign.”
I resigned in protest and became the first (and still the only) athlete or coach in the world to say “no” to taking part in a Nike endorsement deal because of their sweatshop abuses.
The NY Times and the AP Wire picked up my story and I became an instant expert on the sweatshop issue. My critics charged that those were “great jobs for those poor people” and that “you can live like a king on a sweatshop wage in places like Indonesia.” I knew from my research that they were wrong, but I wanted to prove it.
In July 2000 I lived with Nike factory workers in Indonesia. I lived in conditions they lived in and on the wages they paid - $1.25 a day. I lost 25lbs in a month in a rat-infested slum in Tangerang, Indonesia, home to tens of thousands of the women and men who produce the Nike sneakers adored by so many athletes and consumers.
Following that initial immersion in 2000, I conducted field research in 2001, 2002, 2008 and 2009; I took part in demonstrations on three continents; I met with an Indonesian President (Wahid) and members of the U.S. Congress; I led workshops and listening sessions with Nike workers from a dozen factories in Bekasi, Bogor, Bandung, Balaraja, Tangerang, and Jakarta; I lobbied Nike shareholders and was escorted by police from at least one shareholder meeting; I produced a short documentary, “Behind the Swoosh” and am currently producing a feature documentary and writing a book, both under the title, SWEAT; I lectured at more than 400 schools in 39 states and in three different countries; and I met with representatives from Nike at all levels, including Nike founder and chairman, Phil Knight.
Has there been any progress? Has anything changed?
Yes. For example, because of the pressure that was placed on Nike by consumers, women workers no longer have to prove they are menstruating to get their legally guaranteed leave. Also, workers are no longer beaten with machetes or threatened at gunpoint for union organizing activity.
However, while we have seen the progress mentioned above, we still have no movement on the two most important issues - Nike workers are still being paid a poverty wage and Nike still refuses to bargain with their workers in good faith.
Because Nike has lied about working conditions and many consumers, even so-called progressives, believe that Nike “fixed those sweatshop problems.” They did not.
How do I know?
I was in Indonesia as recently as August 2009 and in my meetings with workers I heard all too familiar stories of inadequate wages, forced overtime, illegal firings for union organizing, workers being cheated out of pay, etc.
In part, what made this trip slightly different, was that Caitlin Morris, Nike’s Director of Sustainable Business and Innovation, accompanied me. So now, when I put forth a charge about Nike’s sweatshop abuses, Nike cannot say it isn’t true as Ms. Morris was in the room with me when the latest round of videotaped allegations were made.
Now, some may want to give Nike a tremendous amount of credit for sending Ms. Morris to Indonesia with me and for taking action on the aforementioned menstrual leave and union organizing issues. I give Nike no credit for these. Why? Because Nike did not make any of these improvements voluntarily; they needed to be publicly embarrassed and pilloried to make each of these changes. Congratulating Nike for discontinuing these corporate crimes would be like congratulating a thief for no longer stealing or congratulating a rapist for no longer raping.
So, what do we do to get Nike to take action on the wage and collective bargaining issues? The same stuff we did to get them to move on the other human rights violations.
We engage, we demonstrate, we publicly embarrass, and we organize, organize, organize!
The October 19th edition of Forbes Magazine announced the Forbes 400 Revolutionaries, men and women whom Forbes considers “captains of capitalism (who) built a product, created a market or satisfied a need that touches us all.”
Topping this list is Nike founder and chairman, Phil Knight. Forbes noted that the 71-year-old Knight has created the largest sportswear company in the world with $19,200,000,000.00 in sales last year and that Knight has a personal net worth of $9,500,000,000.00 - $6,000,000,000.00 of which is in Nike stock.
What Forbes neglected to mention is that Mr. Knight’s wealth has been amassed on the backs of mostly young women in Asia who, despite producing his products for 20 years, still live in abject poverty.
If we use the lens of history as our guide, Phil Knight is doing nothing new. To make himself really rich, he is exploiting the poverty, lack of education, and desperation of marginalized people. What exactly is “revolutionary” about taking advantage of the poor for selfish financial gain? Before Mr. Knight, this path was paved well by the Pharaohs of ancient Egypt, the robber barons of industrial Europe, and the slave masters of the American south.
Rather than praise Mr. Knight’s unjust actions, people of good will should challenge him. An excellent place to start would be with the words of the Hebrew prophet, Jeremiah.
“Woe to him who builds his house by unrighteousness, and his upper room by injustice; who makes neighbor serve him for nothing, and does not give him his wages… you have eyes and heart only for your dishonest gain, for shedding innocent blood, and for practicing oppression and violence.” (Jeremiah 22)
If Mr. Knight were to act justly in light of this prophetic warning, that would warrant his being called a revolutionary.
The writer is the Director of Educating for Justice, Inc. and for 12 years has engaged Mr. Knight and Nike regarding fair wages for factory workers. To learn more about Mr. Keady’s work on this issue, visit www.teamsweat.org.
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.
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.
Here is a note that was sent to Nike CEO, Mark Parker by a Team Sweat supporter. Have you emailed Mark? firstname.lastname@example.org
Peace, Jim Keady
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.
Poverty affects millions (billions?) of people worldwide, including people living in “developed” countries. There are numerous social consequences of poverty that impact all of us, even if we aren’t poor. In this episode of Fitness Rocks I briefly discuss a paper from the Journal of the American Medical Associationabout why we should care about people living in poverty who suffer poor health. The bottom line is that their poor health becomes a risk for your health – listen to the podcast to hear how that works.
I also have an interview with Jim Keady of TeamSweat.org in this episode. Jim talks about his work on behalf of Indonesian factory workers over the past twelve years. These people, according to Jim who has lived among them, are living in horrible conditions while they work in factories making products for Nike.
I tried to get a representative from Nike to do a telephone interview telling their side of Jim Keady’s story, but my request was denied. If you are a Nike representative, the offer to come on Fitness Rocks is always open. I like Nike products and I want to keep buying them – please convince me, and everybody else, that there is no ethical reason why I should avoid your products.
I urge you to watch the twenty-minute video called Behind the Swoosh. It is a video documentary of Jim’s experience living in an Indonesian slum on $1.25 per day.
Poverty is not a liberal or a conservative issue. It is a global issue with negative consequences that affect everybody. Fitness Rocks is a health and fitness podcast so I focus my discussion on how Poverty creates health risks for people around the world, including you.
I am NOT responsible for the opinions or data presented by Jim Keady in Fitness Rocks Podcast 144. I am merely a person interested in the work Jim Keady is doing, and I want to share his story with people who listen to Fitness Rocks. I am not accusing Nike of anything, but I would like to hear their response to Jim’s report from Indonesia.
Former Collegiate Athlete/Coach Takes on Nike’s Third World Labor Practices
Jim Keady was a coach with St. John’s University’s 1997 national champion men’s soccer team which given the ultimatum to either stop questioning Nike’s labor practices or resign.
Jim Keady has made a living from calling out Nike and the other sportswear-manufacturing giants for their alleged exploitation of labor in Third World countries.
The former collegiate athlete and coach will speak at Wilmington College Oct. 8, at 7:30 p.m., in Heiland Theatre.
The event, which is free of charge, is the second of four programs in WC’s 2009-10 Issues & Artists Series.
In his presentation, titled “Behind the Swoosh: Sweatshops and Social Justice,” Keady will relate the story of losing his coaching job at St. John’s University for challenging Nike’s “sweatshop labor” practices. He has since made the issue of worker exploitation his life’s mission.
In the summer of 2000, he lived with factory workers in an Indonesian slum, trying to survive on their wage of 23 cents an hour. There he documented what workers’ lives are really like.
“I lived in a 9×9 box, sleeping on a reed mat on a cement floor for 30 days,” said Keady, “I lost 25 pounds trying live like a Nike factory worker.”
Since that initial trip, Keady has returned to Indonesia on multiple occasions, most recently in January 2008, to learn more about Nike’s overseas operations.
He has also taken part in grassroots campaigns and demonstrations on three continents that were focused on raising consumers’ awareness about Nike’s sweatshops.
He is currently producing and directing a feature documentary film about Nike’s operations in Indonesia called SWEAT.
SLAC protests in chancellor’s office over sweatshop concerns
By Kelsey Gunderson
Published Wednesday, September 30, 2009
The Student Labor Action Coalition protested at Chancellor Biddy Martin’s office Wednesday to voice their concerns with UW-Madison’s actions toward sweatshop conditions.
SLAC members gathered in Martin’s office and asked to speak with her regarding their concerns with clothing factories owned by Nike, who has an apparel contract with UW-Madison.
According to Daniel Cox, a UW-Madison student and SLAC organizer, Nike closed a factory in Honduras, fired their workers and refused to give them severance pay, which is prohibited under the code of conduct all apparel companies have with UW-Madison.
“The university is getting apparel from sweatshops with bad working conditions,” he said. “It reflects badly on the university and the students.”
Jonah Zinn, also a UW-Madison student and SLAC organizer, said UW-Madison plans to host a $50,000 educational program to inform the university’s licensees about the code of conduct regarding the treatment of workers in labor shops.
Zinn said SLAC was uncertain about the necessity of the program.
“We don’t think that these companies can really plead ignorance on the issue of the labor code of conduct,” he said. “By signing a legal document, they are aware of their actions and the implications.”
Zinn said aside from feeling the program was unwarranted, he was also concerned about where the funds were coming from.
According to Cox, SLAC submitted letters to Martin within the past month and never received a response.
However, both Cox and Zinn said they felt Martin listened to their concerns Wednesday and seemed willing to help take further action against sweatshop conditions.
“[Martin] was pretty respectful,” he said. “She expressed her concern and said that she would definitely take an active role once we have the official reports out.”
Cox said he hopes after today’s event, UW-Madison will take a stronger stance against sweatshops.
“The administration should lean on these companies and make sure that they are expected to follow the code of conduct which they are legally bound to, and if they do not, they should no longer have the opportunity of making [University of] Wisconsin apparel,” he said.
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
Sports’ First Billion-Dollar Man
Kurt Badenhausen, 09.29.09, 07:25 PM EDT
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.
by Hugh Wheelan
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.
Here are comments from some of Team Sweat’s newest members.
Peace, Jim Keady
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.
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.
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.
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,
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
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
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.
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
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.
Here is a letter that a marathon runner sent to Nike CEO, Mark Parker this week. I thought it might inspire you to take the time to write to Mr. Parker about Nike’s sweatshop abuses. His email address is email@example.com.
Peace, Jim Keady
I listened to the most recent episode of the popular running podcast
“Phedippidations “today. It featured an hour long interview with a man I think you know - Jim Keady of Team Sweat. I was already aware of reports about the working conditions of people in Nike factories around the world, and it already bothered me. This podcast made me really think about the issue.
I have worn Nike shoes and exercise apparel for more than three
decades. My closet is full of Nike gear.
Jim Keady’s interview was compelling and I have to say that I will not
buy any additional Nike products until I have heard from your company
that Nike is changing their labor practices. I recognize that Nike is
not the only corporation involved with poor working conditions, but you
are certainly one of the most visible for people like me who spend much
of their life engaged in sports.
I first learned about Nike as kid running high school track in Texas in
the mid 70’s. A new kid who was the current junior national champion in
the mile moved to our town from Oregon. He showed up the first day of
track practice wearing a goofy looking pair of shoes with a waffle
bottom. The shoes weren’t available in our town and without the
internet it took a considerable effort for any of us to get a pair - but
we did, and we loved them. Since that time I have always viewed Nike as
a company with whom I shared a common vision, which I realize is naive.
But, I really believed you were all about running and sports and the
people who used your products. I believed, for no obvious reason, that
you were a good corporate citizen because you shared a bond with me as a
runner. That’s nonsensical, I know, but it isn’t a bad image for you to
have - is it?
I also have a podcast - Fitness Rocks (www.fitnessrocks.org) and I may
follow Steve Runner’s lead in producing a show about Team Sweat. I
would be very happy to offer the Nike side of the story if you, or
someone at Nike, would talk to me in a telephone interview. I would
sincerely like you to convince me, and my listeners, that it is OK to
buy your shoes, because I like them, and I don’t want to give them up.
The match made in sports marketing heaven has been a marriage like any other, for better or for worse.
Most prominent among the rough spots were the reports that Nike used sweatshops in Indonesia. In 1996, human-rights and labor advocates demanded that Nike improve pay and conditions for its workers.
Nike said it subcontracted its work and had no control over how the workers were treated, although it said it had tried to improve conditions.
But Michael Jordan only fueled the fire with a response that infuriated his critics.
During the 1996 NBA Finals, when asked about the alleged abuse of child workers, Jordan said: “I think that’s Nike’s decision to do what they can to make sure everything is correctly done. I don’t know the complete situation. Why should I? I’m trying to do my job.”
No matter how many press releases Nike churned out to document the millions invested in continuing education and low-interest loans in those underprivileged countries, Jordan, as Nike’s biggest attraction, remained the focal point of criticism.
Likewise, many consider Jordan’s iconic Jumpman as a symbol for greed in sports. Jordan’s Hall of Fame exhibit already has been panned for having too much Nike, not enough Mike.
To those most critical of Jordan, every shoe sold under his name takes him one step further from his social responsibility.
Howard White, vice president of marketing for Jordan Brand, and those close to Jordan have heard the charge often — and scoff every time.
“You always hear Michael doesn’t give back to the community,” White said with a sigh. “But to me he makes some of the boldest social statements in the world: show up for work, be on time and be accountable for your job.”
Jordan’s success also created unexpected consequences.
The unprecedented annual demand for each new design of the Air Jordan sneakers elevated the shoes to such status symbols in many American cities that youths were using any means to get a pair, including violence. Fame had never felt so conflicting to Jordan than when he considered kids were literally dying to wear his shoes.
“People started robbing each other for the shoes, and it bothered him,” said Tinker Hatfield, Nike’s vice president of innovation and the primary designer for the Air Jordan line. “We were all sad, but it was much more a comment on materialism and people not respecting life. There was something else in our society driving that behavior so we never felt guilty or responsible or thought we would dial back and do less cool stuff, and Michael was adamant about that.”
WASHINGTON – Nike Inc. spent $120,000 in the second quarter to lobby on physical education, trade, patent reform and other matters, according to a recent disclosure report.
Besides Congress, the Beaverton, Ore.-based athletic shoe and apparel company lobbied the U.S. Trade Representative and the departments of Health and Human Services, State and Treasury during the April-June period, according to the report filed July 20 with the House clerk’s office.
Check out “Steve Runner’s” Phedippidations PodCast . This week TEAM SWEAT is the feature story. Steve’s show goes out to 10,000 runners around the world. The show just went up this morning and already we have been flooded with runners interested in joining the fight to end Nike’s sweatshop abuses.
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.
Portland Business Journal - by Andy Giegerich Business Journal staff writer
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.
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.
My Nike Nightmare
Written by D. Jayadikarta
Edited by Wakidi
It was May 2000 and I found myself bouncing on a wooden bench masquerading as a passenger’s seat in a public mini-bus in Southern Bandung, West Java, Indonesia. I was on my way to a job interview with Fengtay Enterprises, Ltd., a Taiwanese-based company that proudly manufactured Nike footwear for overseas markets. The sun was perched high, the road was covered with dust, and potholes seemed to be everywhere. The mini-bus passed so many factories along the poor winding road that I did not even have time to read names on the sides of the buildings, they were producing everything here from chocolate to garments to electronics.
Although the road was designed for vehicles to access the factories in Southern Bandung, it was built with cheap materials – most likely some local official lined their pockets with the money that was to be spent to build a proper thoroughfare – and I stared to get car sick as the mini-bus swerved to avoid the potholes. I was desperate to arrive at my destination and I thought that my long, uncomfortable journey would never come to an end.
I finally arrived and found myself standing in front of a tall, pale blue, steel gate. The gate was emblazoned with a dark blue globe logo with the initials IW in the center. I later found out that IW was the Nike factory ID for Fengtay and that each factory in Asia had its own two-letter Nike identifier. There was no Nike Swoosh or pictures of Michael Jordan with his $200 basketball sneakers to be found. This was very different from the images I had of Nike, generated by their slick advertising in the Jakarta malls. I thought, “I cannot be in the right place. This doesn’t’ look like a Nike factory, it looks like a prison.”
I walked towards the security office and asked the guards stationed behind the glass sitting at their desk if this was where I was supposed to be. “Yes, Fengtay Enterprise, Ltd.,” he said with a cold, suspicious look. I was relieved. The last thing I wanted to have to do was get back on that mini-bus and I certainly did not want to be lost in the polluted slum that surrounded the factory complex.
A few weeks after the job interview, I was officially employed at Fengtay. But there was no feeling of the excitement that one usually gets when one finally lands a new job. Even though I was unemployed for a while, a result of the economic crisis in Indonesia, I just was not elated by my new position, something seemed wrong about it from the beginning. But what choice did I have? Since the crisis, people like me had lost hope of finding work that had real meaning or hope a future. You simply took the best job you could get to avoid poverty and hunger, unless you wanted to live on the street and attempt to survive on instant noodles everyday.
I was told that Fengtay employed around 9000 people from around the neighborhoods of Bandung and Banjaran. It was such a massive factory complex. I worked in the main office building in the Business Department. Due to the nature of my work, I had to leave the office more often than my co-workers and tour the factory floor where those famous Nike shoes are born. On my first walk through the plant, I was completely shocked to hear factory managers (you know them by the pink identity badges hanging from their shirt pockets) swearing at workers as if they were dogs. As if this were not bad enough, I saw women workers, late in their pregnancies, pushing massive cartloads of materials for making shoe uppers. I had never seen anything like this. Is this what all the factories were like in my country?
That night, back in my room at the boarding house, I could not sleep at all. I was haunted by the images of those young, female factory workers – most of them high school graduates in their late teens and early twenties - being verbally abused by the managers. I felt that I was trapped in a labyrinth of poverty and exploitation. Suddenly, the dream of making Nike’s world-famous sneakers became a nightmare. This nightmare would play itself out day after day, and I would not awaken from it until the day that I quit working at Fengtay.
The abuse was not limited to the factory floor, but could be found in the management offices as well. The Taiwanese bosses felt they had license to mistreat the employees whenever and wherever they pleased. Both the male and female bosses, had one thing in mind – meet the production target – and they did whatever the felt they needed to do to make this happen. If the target was not reached, they may get a low ranking from Nike (which could cost them future orders) and they would not let this happen. Through this single-minded focus on meeting targets, these women and men lost their sense of humanity. They became machines, slaves to Nike’s production quotas. The young women on the factory floor paid the harshest price and were abused regularly. It did not matter if it was your first day or your five hundredth day – you were to work, fast, like you have never worked before.
Everything had to be done to perfection to meet the target and Nike’s quality standards. If the managers feared this was not happening, workers were yelled at, they were called “dogs” and “goats.” At times the screaming of the managers rivaled the screaming of the machines on the production lines. Their mouths spewed filthy words, their weapons to motivate workers, to boost production on the lines to meet the export date targets. Targets – that was what it was all about.
The factory reluctantly supplied lunch to the workers. When I first saw what was served, I doubted that what was wrapped in the brown, plastic-coated paper could qualify for human consumption. Once I opened it, I felt pity and shame. The food was complete rubbish; low quality rice, stinky, tiny salty-fish, and chunks of a mystery vegetable. This menu for workers was repeated over and over again.
Not far from the giant lunch shed where workers ate was a nice, clean, modern building where the Taiwanese bosses dined. Their meals were of the highest quality. They also had modern accommodations on-site and even a little golf course to entertain themselves when they were stuck at the factory for the weekend.
These Taiwanese managers were so arrogant and dictatorial. They ran they factory like a totalitarian regime. You couldn’t even expect a smile from them, because to them, you were less than human. To them, you were “labor,” another line item on the balance sheet, a commodity to be bought and used at the cheapest price possible.
The Taiwanese all held the highest and most influential positions in each of the divisions at the plant and they walked around the factory complex like spies, keeping tabs on all the workers’ activities. If they found something that they didn’t meet their standards, they felt they could do anything they wanted to rectify it. If you were lucky, they only scolded and yelled at you in a “special meeting” with the Chinese-Indonesian interpreters. If it was your unlucky day, you were demoted to the lowest rank on the production line.
When I think of my time at Fengtay, I liken it to having your body covered with a rash. It itches and burns each day and you feel the discomfort, mentally and physically, but it does not kill you and you press on. Yes, my Nike nightmare brought me to the darkest point in my life. I no longer knew what it meant to be a human being, running freely and enjoying life, like Michael Jordan or any of the countless others at Nike that make their millions off our sweat and broken dreams.
I came to Fengtay to be a part of the Nike dream, to share in their success, and hopefully to help my nation move out of the economic crisis. But instead, I spun my wheels on the Nike treadmill and generated wealth for everyone – the Taiwanese managers, the Nike executives, the Nike athletes, the Nike shareholders – but my fellow countrymen and women. In the end, I was no better than when I started.
Then, some questions started popping into my head. How did these Taiwanese bosses get like this? Was their behavior the result of the pressure they were under from Nike to meet the production targets? Why were these things happening my country? Why had we Indonesians ended up being slaves in our own land to foreign interests?
One day I went to one of the fancy malls in central Jakarta. I stood there, outside the Plaza Indonesia, looking up at a giant Nike ad, the Nike Swoosh painted on a massive glass window display, and I started to cry. I could not get the workers out of my mind. And then I saw the prices being charged for the Nike shoes that were made at factories like Fengtay. I had to pause and take a deep breath to avoid being overcome with even more emotion. There were the Air Walks, the Air Macs, the Air Rifts, the Baby Jordans, the Jordans, and all the other latest models. Why were the shoes so expensive, priced at a level that only those in the highest class could afford? I knew what they cost to make and what workers were paid. It just was not fair.
The workers know that their jobs at the factory will not make them millionaires, but they do want fair salaries and a future for themselves and their children. Is that too much to ask from Nike? Perhaps if the Nike executives walked in their shoes for a while, perhaps if the Nike executives lived in the workers’ hovels in the villages, perhaps if the Nike executives felt the workers’ sweat poured out on the factory floor each day, then maybe they would understand. If they understood, then perhaps these Nike executives would show workers the respect they deserve and they would treat them with honor and dignity in their homeland.
Please check out the article below that was originally published in Forbes Magazine at http://www.forbes.com/2009/07/01/corporate-social-responsibility-leadership-citizenship-ibm.html.
What does this information mean for a company like Nike that spends millions of dollars and has more than 130 people working full-time on CSR issues. Is anything really getting accomplished with these current efforts or do they need to completely change their strategies moving forward? How much data is Nike gathering from reliable sources in countries like Indonesia, Vietnam, Thailand and China (the four largest producers of Nike products)? What if Nike put a CSR data collection model in place that rivaled the data collection model they have for manufacturing efficiencies? What kind of information could be collected and then acted upon?
Peace, Jim Keady
Corporate Social Responsibility: Much More Talk Than Action
By Eric Riddleberger and Jeff Hittner 07.01.09, 4:29 PM ET
IBM recently completed its second annual survey of senior executives around the world asking them how they are handling green and sustainability issues in their corporate strategies. The results are encouraging in some respects, but they show how very far businesses still need to go to truly be on the road to sustainability. The overwhelming majority of the 224 respondents said they are committed to incorporating principles of corporate social responsibility into their business strategies–despite the global recession–as a way to improve their business performance, their contribution to society and their reputation. Some 60% said this was more important to them than a year ago; only 6% said it was less.
We now live in faster, flatter, more interconnected world, and that’s changing business strategies as companies become more aware of systemic risk and its consequences. Also, executives recognize that all kinds of stakeholders–investors, partners, employees, governments, non-governmental organizations and above all customers–are very concerned about sustainability issues. They closely monitor what companies do and make decisions based on what they see. These conditions make a strong case for a sustainable approach to doing business, one that recognizes that the long-term health of an organization is inextricably tied to the well-being of society and the planet. And businesses, for the most part, are no longer just paying lip service to sustainability. They’re trying to optimize their operations to reduce environmental impact and improve social effects while also improving business performance. But our survey shows a significant gap between the business and sustainability goals companies are setting for themselves and what they are actually doing to attain them. And information is at the heart of the problem.
Specifically, our survey findings show that:
–Companies aren’t collecting and analyzing the information they really need or aggregating it often enough. Because of that, they can’t implement real changes to fundamentally increase efficiency, lower costs, reduce environmental impact and improve their reputations with key stakeholders.
–Few are collecting enough data from their global supply chain partners, so they’re missing major opportunities to reduce the inconsistency, inefficiency, waste and risk that can ripple through a global supply network.
–Most still don’t understand the concerns of their key stakeholders, particularly customers, and they’re not actively engaging them to find out. That means they’re missing out on knowledge that could improve their businesses and lead to new opportunities.
Here’s an illustration of the information gap problem. Many companies are trying to reduce their energy use and lower their carbon dioxide emissions–to reduce costs and improve efficiency, to meet growing government regulations and to address stakeholder concerns. To be able to do that, they need to know where and how they consume energy throughout their operations, in everything from data centers and office space to manufacturing centers and delivery to customers and the entire lifecycles of their products. Knowing all that, they then need to determine where they can make reductions that won’t hurt in terms of cost, quality and service. Yet in our survey, only 19% of respondents said they are collecting data on carbon dioxide emissions weekly or more often. Most are collecting it only quarterly. That may be enough to meet government or stakeholder demands for information, but it’s not nearly enough to produce systemic change that can reduce environmental impact. Early efforts suggest that collaboration is essential to addressing this gap.
Instead of going it alone, organizations that are leading the way are exchanging information with customers, industry groups and nongovernment organizations to expand their knowledge and benchmark against similar companies. They are joining with partners, suppliers and even competitors to exchange practices and ultimately create common standards for sustainability. Standards are a necessary part of any effective long-term corporate social responsibility strategy. Some of the key findings of the survey further illustrate the information gap and why it’s occurring. Of executives who responded to the survey, 87% said they are focusing on corporate social responsibility activities that will improve efficiency, and 69% said say they’re using CSR to help create new revenue opportunities. But only 30% are collecting data often enough (at least weekly) to make strategic decisions that can address inefficiencies across eight major categories–carbon dioxide, water, waste, energy, sustainable procurement, labor standards, production composition and product lifecycle. Another 24% are collecting this information monthly, and 32% no more than quarterly. A third of the respondents aren’t collecting any CSR information from their supply chain partners. Eight in 10 aren’t collecting supplier data for carbon dioxide and water, and six in 10 aren’t checking supplier data for labor standards. Almost two-thirds–65%–admit they still don’t understand their customers’ concerns about CSR issues, and 37% aren’t conducting any research on the matter.
The bright spot in these findings comes from companies that outperform their competitors in bottom-line results. Outperformers rank consistently higher in collecting every type of CSR information frequently or in real-time across all major green and sustainability categories, from carbon dioxide emissions and water conservation to ethical labor standards and sustainable procurement. They also rank higher in information collection from suppliers. Nearly twice as many of the outperformers said they understand their customers’ concerns about CSR well. They also are more active in collaborating with key stakeholders and twice as likely to rate the sharing of information among business partners and stakeholders as being of the highest importance in achieving their CSR objectives. That indicates a definite correlation between business success and effectively executing on strategic CSR goals.
To succeed in filling the data gap and incorporating CSR principles into your business strategies, you need to consider the following actions:
–Identify your information gaps and analysis needs. Is the CSR information you collect relevant and timely enough to base strategic decisions on? Are you getting the information you need from your business partners and suppliers? Do you understand your customers’ CSR concerns and those of your other key stakeholders?
–Align your objectives with those of your stakeholders and then prioritize. Stakeholders require a lot of information, but their information demands can’t be your only focus. Is your company collecting information that truly helps it meet its business objectives, and is it communicating those objectives to their stakeholders?
–Assess best practices and benchmarks. Have you identified best sustainability practices and benchmarks for your key CSR activities? Are you participating in industry or activity-focused coalitions that are developing preferred best practices and benchmarks? Are there frameworks or scorecards for measuring your activities against overall objectives?
The answers to these questions can help set and prioritize a course of action. A company that advances its CSR strategy through these actions will find itself better positioned to reap the business benefits of more efficient operations and of better balance with the diverse social and environmental ecosystems it is part of.
Eric Riddleberger is global leader for IBM’s business strategy consulting practice. Jeff Hitter is IBM’s leader for corporate social responsibility consulting. The survey discussed in this article can be found here <http://www.ibm.com/gbs/csrstudy> .
(July 2009) THAT NEARLY twenty years of anti-sweatshop activism has come to naught is suggested by the cost breakdown of a $38 University of Connecticut hoodie that appeared in the Hartford Courant a couple of years ago: the workers received a mere 18 cents, while the university received $2.24 in licensing fees. (Mexican factory: profit, 70 cents; overhead, $2.12; material, $5.50–distributor [Champion]: overhead $5.10; profit $1.75–Seller [UCONN Co-Op]: overhead, $14.49; profit, $4.50). The workers’ share could hardly have been lower when the movement began.
Given the worldwide financial crisis, it is a safe bet that fighting sweatshop abuses here and abroad will not be a key policy undertaking for Barack Obama and his team. But this does not rule out a wide-ranging set of initiatives that would significantly empower workers. Tweaking our foreign assistance priorities, revising “democracy promotion,” and undertaking diplomacy from a community organizer’s perspective—these changes in U.S. policy would at least begin an assault on global sweatshop practices. And they are especially important as an antidote to the solipsism of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR), wherein corporate “self-regulation” teams are rebranded as “activists” by lazy and compliant media. The new administration needs to connect with real labor activists, in Asia and Central America especially, and allow them to speak for themselves.
But first we need to collect information on sweatshop practices abroad and make it available to activists, who often can’t collect it themselves. Twenty years ago, I worked in the small Jakarta office of the Asian-American Free Labor Institute (AFL-CIO). When my boss visited Jakarta, I described to him the radical inadequacy of the local minimum wage of 87 cents per day. By the Indonesian government’s admission, this provided only 68 percent of the “minimum physical needs” for a single adult. He suggested that I develop a project to monitor compliance with this inadequate minimum: were the workers even receiving 87 cents? USAID had recently made available funds for human rights grants; we applied and received something on the order of $20,000. The discovery of 44 percent noncompliance in 250 Jakarta-area workplaces was shocking and–to our great surprise and delight–avidly reported in the (mostly Suharto-controlled) newspapers. As a result of the publicity, workers began an unprecedented wave of wildcat strikes that resulted in much-improved compliance numbers.
The back-story is interesting. When the grant was discussed at a twice-monthly meeting where the Jakarta USAID Mission reported to U.S. Embassy staff, I was told that a buzz went around the room: “We’re helping who to do what?” Not surprisingly, AID officials received a similar message of disbelief from Nike’s top official in Indonesia after the strike wave and the attendant bad publicity. Did the local AID Mission pull back? It didn’t. In less than a year, I had approval for a grant of well over $600,000 for survey work that reached 172,000 workers; the number of strikes quadrupled, and the minimum wage rose steadily. But this momentum has not been sustained.
There is, of course, a lot of misinformation circulating, in addition to our common lack of information. Nearly all the academic literature on the subject claims that foreign investors pay better wages than local firms. How to explain, then, the fact that 85 percent of the 720 strikes in Vietnam last year were at foreign-investment factories? My talks with workers there in early 2008 confirmed my long-held suspicion that local firms were less abusive and less likely to cheat workers. Another example of misinformation is the work of Columbia University’s Jagdish Bhagwati, who, in 2000, induced 250 other economists to sign an open letter to college presidents, urging them not to give in to anti-sweatshop students’ demands because “the net result would be shifts in employment that will worsen the collective welfare of the very workers in poor countries who are supposed to be helped.” But the numbers from Indonesia tell a different story: when the wage was 87 cents a day, Nike had 20,000 contract laborers there; when the wage was $2.47—after five years of agitation—the footwear and apparel giant had more than 110,000 workers making products for export.
The lesson on the foreign-assistance front, then, is twofold: first, look for “empowering” projects to assist workers directly in local struggles and, second, use survey-research tools to build a database available to local legal aid groups and labor activists. What is most needed is information about dysfunctional governance, which has previously been unavailable to them.
WORKERS RIGHTS should be a fundamental principle undergirding both “democracy promotion” and our public diplomacy endeavors. The approach should be informed by the same caution that a community organizer uses to size up a neighborhood in distress, buffeted by multiple external and internal forces. It is surprising how little we know about how industrial relations play out in the world’s export-processing zones—even after twenty years of press reports and activists’ campaigns. A 2006 New York Times story out of China, for example, quoted a Communist Party report that asserted that there were 20,000 labor inspectors, 1.2 million audits, and over 8 million back-pay awards in 2005. That’s possible, but we really have no clue as to what is actually happening. (For comparison purposes, the United States has 750 inspectors for 130 million workers covered by the Fair Labor Standards Act.)
Similarly, when a story about Asian workers being mistreated in Jordanian apparel shops appeared in 2006, the Times’s report quoted Yanal Beasha, Jordan’s trade representative in Washington, as saying that Jordanian inspectors monitor working conditions in factories and that the government enforces overtime laws and recently increased the minimum wage for citizens and guest workers. Several workers debunked the claim, but again, there is no reliable data on enforcement.
Obama said before twenty thousand people at Prague Castle, “Rules must be binding. Violations must be punished. Words must mean something.” These standards should apply to governments that oversee vast export-processing zones, as well as to dictators bent on nuclear extortion.
Addressing the rule of law as applied to the workplace ought to be a slam-dunk for the president and our recently re-energized State Department, even given the fact that such a worker-advocacy platform may discomfit countries such as China (our banker), Turkey (prone to nationalist tantrums), and Bangladesh (which has a host of stability concerns), just to name a few. For far too long, autocratic regimes have been getting conflicting advice from American policy makers. The boiler-plate nostrums involving multiparty democracy and clean government made little practical sense when China, pre-reform Indonesia, and Vietnam were experiencing growth rates in the double digit range. The off-the-charts venality of these states mocked the World Bank’s decade-long focus on fighting corruption. That the boiler plate wasn’t serious was signaled in many ways; now is the time to change the signals.
At an appropriate venue—such as a gathering of trade unionists and labor rights activists in Mexico or Thailand—Obama should outline the ways in which workers are grievously disadvantaged in the global economy. Activists across the globe would be thrilled to hear an American president calling into question such neoliberal tenets as the “flexible” workforce and the necessary “reform” of national labor codes—these two together have opened the door to a noxious insecurity of employment. Specifically, he could cite the World Bank’s “competitive index,” which ranks countries higher for ease of hiring and firing, reduced severance benefits, and other employer-friendly policies. Particularly egregious is the recent study funded and heavily influenced by the World Bank. Its report concludes that workers have to sacrifice even more than they have already in the name of economic growth. Organized as the Commission on Growth and Development, it made the astonishing discovery that the developing world’s workers are over protected. The report includes a discussion about how governments need to “mollify the influential minority of workers” in the formal, wage-paying sector. Hence the need for “special zones” with reduced protections—at best, somewhere in between the formal sector and “informal” destitution. The overall findings were praised in a Wall Street Journal article arguing that “there is room for countries to ape the Chinese model.” A 2007 Brookings Institution publication similarly prescribes “ease of hiring and firing” as a primary “condition for maximizing growth.” These are the policies that produce a worker’s eighteen-cent share of a $38 hoodie.
It is clear that a new architecture of rights must be erected, beginning with a no-nonsense survey of current practices. Every labor attaché or labor reporting officer at an American embassy should compile the following facts: Has the country signed International Labor Organization Convention 81 (Labor Inspection)? If so, when is the last time a report was sent to Geneva? How many labor inspectors are there? How many factory inspections were done last year? What is the number of violations found? How many prosecutions started? How many back pay awards were made? Similarly, on the environmental side, statistics need to be collected on factories visited, citations, and types of hazardous waste. And our attachés should also map out the bureaucratic chain of command, with names of responsible local officials and an account of who reports to whom. U.S.-based companies importing more that $50 million worth of goods should have to post these findings on their corporate Web sites—in both English and the local language—for every country in which they have more than three contract factories.
All the inspection/enforcement statistics should be folded into a matrix maintained by a nongovernmental organization working under a several-year grant from the State Department’s Bureau of Human Rights, Democracy, and Labor. Alongside the raw numbers, wiki-style narratives should be included on such issues as freedom for NGOs operating in the labor sector, labor history, recent strikes, opinions on the adequacy of the minimum wage, academic papers on all these issues, and contact information for unions and activist groups. Such a program would make possible a global dialogue about key issues. For example, a recent law change regarding severance pay in Colombia addresses the most recent wage-cheating tactic employed by multinationals (declaring bankruptcy and skipping out on substantial payments due to workers); the Dominican Republic has trained lawyers to act as labor standards inspectors but as mediators not in the familiar command-and-control mode. We need to know how this is working out. Again, Bulgaria appears to be quite serious about labor inspection and tracking worker complaints to authorities—we should pay attention to such initiatives.
OBAMA COULD make a very significant contribution to an urgent global problem for which the Bush administration spent upward of $500 million without much effect—“Trafficking in Persons.” The “action” up to now consisted mainly of getting legislatures around the world to pass laws on trafficking; it’s a good bet that the number of lawyers and consultants employed dwarfs the number of organized crime leaders captured. This fact did not restrain the Bush team’s fiery rhetorical pronouncements: the United States and its allies would “stop at nothing to end the debasement of our fellow men and women… the defeat of human trafficking is the great moral calling of our time.” Forced prostitution is the most well-known form of trafficking, but factory workers are also trafficked—and then sweated in legal or illegal shops. It is time to forgo the rhetoric and think about practical efforts to stop trafficking, with reliable benchmarks on our progress.
Officials might start by going after the low-hanging fruit, borrowing from the concept of “low obligational ante” developed by Abram and Antonia Chayes in their writings about getting respect for international agreements across a wide spectrum of countries. For over ten years, it has been common knowledge that foreign workers are being shipped across national boundaries to do factory work, often making products for export. Only last year, an award-winning television exposé interviewed Bangladeshi and Vietnamese workers producing Nike T-shirts in Malaysia in familiar, appalling conditions exacerbated by ruthless labor contractors. It would be simple for the State Department to organize a briefing on “trafficking” for all corporations that know or suspect that similarly vulnerable workers may be producing products anywhere along their supply chains. Those businesses whose executives do not attend—but are reliably implicated—should go to the top of the “watch list.”
The benefits of such a strategy are threefold: Local governments in Asia and elsewhere would see U.S. embassy officials visiting cheated and abused workers; local NGOs would see an administration unafraid to antagonize U.S. firms, and, most important, cheated workers might win compensation, thereby emboldening other workers.
Eventually, such a no-nonsense strategy would undermine the booming Corporate Social Responsibility industry. The shallowness and deceit of the CSR farce may be clearly observed in press reports. The Financial Times, for example, ran a headline, “Nike to promote workers’ rights” in mid-2007, and a news report on Nike in the same paper the very next day described “a push to promote labour rights, including the freedom to form and join trade unions.” This at a time when Nike itself reported fourteen strikes involving tens of thousands of workers. In reality, there is no collective bargaining going on at any shoe or apparel factories in the developing world. A Chinese group released a report in 2007 that underscored this point. It was an assessment of union rights in a factory producing for Reebok where–with much fanfare in 2002–Reebok had persuaded a contractor (the Shun Da Sporting Good Corporation in Fuzhou) to allow a secret-ballot election for union representatives: “The results of the  investigation were extremely disappointing. Working conditions have deteriorated noticeably, and the trade union is doing more or less nothing to further workers’ interests. Interviews with workers uncovered widespread dissatisfaction and distrust towards the current union” (China Labor News Translations).
For weary observers of corporate-dominated globalization, it will come as little surprise that the coordinator of the World Bank’s aforementioned growth commission is economist Michael Spence. Until recently, Spence was the dean of Stanford’s business school–holding a chair endowed by and named after Nike CEO Phil Knight. A decade ago, while a member of Nike’s board of directors, Nobel-laureate Spence told a group of business school students in Singapore that global firms “make nothing” and that corporations must be “ruthless and not tell people you can do it in-house when out-sourcing would do a better job.”
This is the real CSR at work, and it goes a long way toward explaining the failure, so far, of anti-sweatshop activism.
Team Sweat member, Jeff Ballinger, just passed along the report, WHEN NIKE MEANS STRIKE. The report was published on July 2, 2009 by the Danish Consumer Council. Some of the highlights from the report include:
* 20,000 factory workers at a major Nike contractor in Vietnam went on strike in March 2008 for liveable wages.
* 100 group leaders were fired.
* Zero workers were spoken to by Nike, which claims no workers were fired.
* Six months of intense police surveillance, monitoring and harassment followed.
* Zero free trade unions: despite Nike’s code of conduct promising to protect workers’ rights, the factory unions in Vietnam are still state-run.
* €1 a week extra is the bonus for working with hazardous shoe glue, reveals the Danish Consumer Council in secret conversations with Nike factory workers.
JAKARTA, Jun 22, 2009 (AsiaPulse via COMTEX) - Nike Inc has placed orders for an additional supply of footwear worth US$45 million from Indonesia this year, an official said.
Earlier Nike announced plan to cut 10 per cent of its shoe order for delivery in March to July but the cut would not include shipments from Indonesia.
Nike already planned to import 55 million pairs of shoes worth US$1.3 billion from Indonesia this year, Budi Irmawan, the director general of multifarious industries said
Irmawan said Nike placed the orders with a number of local shoe makers for a total of 3 million pairs of shoes this year, adding the additional orders came after it closed its factories in China, Vietnam and Thailand.
This year Nike wants an additional supply of 250,000 pairs a month or 3 million pairs a year, to be supplied by PT Nikomas Gemilang, PT Cing Luh Indonesia, PT Panarub Industry and PT Hardaya Aneka Shoes Industry, he added.
Original Story posted at www.tradingmarkets.com/.site/news/Stock%20News/2381920/.
Check out this story published last week by “News of the World” (UK) about Indonesian sweatshop workers making the English National Team kits. Umbro is owned by Nike, Inc. I am hoping to visit with workers from PT Tuntex (mentioned in the article) during my visit to Indonesia in July.
Peace, Jim Keady
By Simon Parry in Indonesia & Dominic Herbert, 14/06/2009
THE World Cup shirts worn by England’s multi-million pound soccer stars and tens of thousands of fans are made by slumdog workers paid just £2 A DAY in a secret sweat-shop in Indonesia.
A News of the World investigation has traced the Football Association’s newly-designed official Three Lions tops back to a slave labour factory that makers Umbro-owned by Nike- don’t want YOU to know about.
Behind barbed wire fences patrolled by guards, more than 2,000 dirt-poor teenage girls and young mums toil for a sickening 16p AN HOUR, 12 hours a day, making the trendy shirts the FA is selling for £49 A TIME.
One told us: “We all work maximum overtime because the basic salary isn’t enough to live on and keep our families. The work is very hard and the pay is not good but jobs are hard to get.”
The machinists are watched constantly by patrolling supervisors ordered to fire anyone caught chatting or taking mobile phone pictures of their appalling conditions.
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)
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.
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.
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 aggressiveself-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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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
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
“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
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
“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
“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.”
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 . 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 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.
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.
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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
Peace, Jim Keady
I went to CBA, heard Jim talk at my senior retreat, and it really made me aware.
- Luke Harold
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.
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.
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!
I really enjoy helping misfourtunate people in certain situations.
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
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
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.
“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.
Jim Keady, Captain
cc. Phil Knight, Chairman of the Board
Mark Parker, CEO
Caitlin Morris, Director of Compliance and Integration
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.
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
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?”
“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.
Jim Keady, Captain
cc. Mark Parker, CEO
Hannah Jones, VP of CR
Caitlin Morris, Director of Compliance and Integration
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.
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!
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.
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.
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
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.
Students from Southern New Hampshire University join 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
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.
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
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.
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.
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:
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
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.
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.
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.
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!
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
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!
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.
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.
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!!
Students who purchased a “Slavery” shirtat 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 email@example.com 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.
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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org or call me at 732.988.7322. You can also learn more about the program here.
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.
Here are more consumers that have recently joined the fight against Nike’s sweatshops.
Peace, Jim Keady
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
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:
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!
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