LABOR RIGHTS GROUP TO INVESTIGATE NIKE SWEATSHOP CHARGES

Byline: Rosemary Feitelberg

NEW YORK — In response to the alleged mistreatment of workers who make Nike goods in a Mexican factory, the Worker Rights Consortium is taking a delegation to the site to investigate.
Protesting alleged low wages and the factory’s lack of a fair labor union, 800 of the 850 employees at the Kukdong International-Mexico factory in Atlixco held a two-day strike last week. Kukdong produces sweatshirts imprinted with the logos of at least 14 major schools. Reebok also uses the facility for production, but is not making goods there now, according to Doug Cahn, vice president of human rights programs for Reebok.
Scott Nova, executive director of the WRC, a nonprofit group designed to protect worker’s rights internationally, said Wednesday that he and seven others plan to interview Kukdong factory workers, community leaders, union representatives, a Nike-hired attorney and possibly factory management.
Nova’s group will look into charges that Kukdong’s management fired workers, forced others to resign for complaining about their working conditions and prevented some from returning to work. They will also look into reports that a handful of employees were hospitalized after being beaten by Mexican police at the factory.
In protest USAS held rallies Wednesday on 20 college and university campuses. The aim is to draw attention to the need for third-party accountability in foreign factories.
Reebok is also investigating the allegations, and will recommend a free and fair election to allow workers to set up their own labor union, Cahn said.

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