NIKE UNDER FIRE: Students at dozens of universities are banding together with the help of United Students Against Sweatshops to rally against Nike for allegedly refusing unrestricted access for the Worker Rights Consortium.
With 180-plus U.S. university affiliates in the U.S. and Canada, the labor rights watchdog is championing undergraduates in a social media and take-action campaign with the end goal being investigations into complaints filed by workers in factories where Nike sources its college logo apparel. Giving the WRC full access to the factories where the brand produces its apparel is a rule “that is part of almost every university’s labor code of conduct, and is a condition for doing business with those universities,” a USAS spokesman said.
A Nike spokesman did not respond to a request for comment Wednesday.
The USAS spokesman also claimed Wednesday that Nike started its reversal on WRC access more than a year ago. In addition to an online campaign, sit-ins are being planned at select college campuses throughout the spring, he said. Georgetown recently dropped its bookstore contract with Nike, and Rutgers University did the same, the USAS spokesman said.
Students at the University of Washington, the University of Texas at Austin, Purdue, the University of Alabama, Villanova University, Gonzaga, Virginia Tech, Cornell University and more than a dozen other campuses are also supporting the effort.
At Georgetown, where actions are being planned to end the university’s athletic contract with Nike, students are available for interviews, as is John Kline, professor of international business diplomacy in the Walsh School of Foreign Service. For the next week or so, interviews are available with Sophorn Yang, the president of the Cambodian Alliance of Trade Unions, a former garment worker and union organizer who can speak about conditions in Nike supplier factories in Cambodia. She is traveling to U.S. campuses during most of March.
The campaign launched following a strike at Nike’s major supplier of college logo apparel, the Hansae factory in Vietnam. Nike initially refused to allow the WRC to investigate the growing number of complaints from workers about their treatment and conditions there, the USAS spokesman said.
Among other things students are being advised to collect any of their Nike shirts, hats and shoes to tape an “X” over the Nike swoosh and write “#NikeSweatshops” on the tape. Then they are advised to post a photo or video across all social media platforms with the caption, “Nike, let the WRC inside! We can see your dirty side!” using the hashtags: #NikeCoverUpChallenge and #NikeSweatshops.