NEW YORK -- Charles Kernaghan, executive director of the National Labor Committee for Human Rights, has made a list and said Nike, Kohl's and Wal-Mart were among the naughty.
Kernaghan is expected to hand out the NLC's first "Golden Grinch" awards this morning at the Millennium Hotel in Manhattan, where the labor activist will spell out charges that those companies are responsible for sweatshop abuses and mistreatment of workers in foreign factories.
The aim is to make holiday shoppers think twice before they hit the stores Friday and Saturday, which should be among the busiest shopping days of the year, Kernaghan said.
No stranger to controversy, Kernaghan set off a national crossfire in 1996 by exposing Wal-Mart's use of sweatshops for its Kathie Lee Gifford Collection apparel line. This time around, the activist told WWD he is lashing out at Nike, this year's grand prize winner and the recipient of the Golden Grinch award for "gouging workers and consumers."
Kernaghan said Wednesday that he followed garbage trucks outside a contracted factory that produces Nike goods in the Dominican Republic, rummaged its trash in a Free Trade Zone and uncovered internal documents that break down the 22-step production process for Nike children's sweatshirts.
According to the documents, it takes a Dominican factory worker 6.6 minutes to produce, inspect and package the sweatshirts, which retail for $23, he said. Each worker earns about 8 cents per garment, Kernaghan said.
"If Nike wants to debate it, we'll debate it," he said.
Vada Manager, director of global issues management at Nike, said Kernaghan doesn't always get his facts straight.
As it has said in the past, Nike, is always willing to speak with Kernaghan about any charges of underpaid workers, make changes if necessary and terminate contractors when violations are proven, Manager said.
"Clearly, he's not in the business and he doesn't understand the relationship between costs of material, labor and production," Manager said.
Kernaghan will also blast Nike for charging $135 for men's sneakers that cost $14.61 per pair to make in factories in China.
Kohl's earns the Golden Grinch award for "hypocrisy."
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