NIKE’S NEW SNEAKER CHALLENGE: About 100 inner-city youths and 200 adults are expected to turn out Sept. 27 for a Nike protest, called “The Great Sneaker Give Back,” according to Michael Gitelson, the event’s organizer.
The children will leave old Nike sneakers at NikeTown New York in protest of Nike’s retail prices and its alleged underpaid production workers’ overseas, said Gitelson, a social worker at the Edenwald Gun Hill Neighborhood Center in the Bronx.
As part of an organized appeal to increase factory workers’ wages and decrease retail prices for Nike footwear, New York City high school students sent 150 letters to Nike and Michael Jordan earlier this year over a four-month period, Gitelson said. They received a form letter in return, he said.
Last week, Gitelson and some of his students met with Vada Manager, senior manager of public relations for Nike, who was in New York for the launch of the Michael Jordan brand. They asked Manager to increase the minimum wage of Indonesian factory workers to $5, to decrease retail prices for athletic footwear to $40 or lower and to invest more money in inner cities.
Reached by phone Wednesday at his office at Nike’s headquarters in Beaverton, Ore., Manager said he outlined some of Nike’s overseas and domestic efforts, during last week’s meeting.
“In Indonesia, we’re far exceeding what other companies pay. We offer more than adequate wages [versus minimum standards],” he said. “We also provide workers with food and shelter.”
Manager also pointed out the group is making these demands only of Nike.
As for prices, Manager noted that Nike has shoes in the $50 to $60 range.
It has not yet been determined if the footwear gathered at the event will be donated to Nike’s Reuse a Shoe program, which provides basketball courts made partially of used sneaker soles for inner-city children, Manager said.