From Transcript of CBS News 48 Hours, October 17, 1996 with permission from CBS News. (c) MCMXCVI, CBS, Inc. All rights reserved.
Dan Rather, host:
Athletic shoe are a multimillion-dollar business; just ask Michael Jordan. He earns $20 million a year pitching shoes for Nike. But as Roberta Basin finds in this exclusive investigation, "Just Doing It" doesn't do it for some Nike workers.
(Footage of Nike sign on outside of building; of Nike Town; shoppers; Just Do It. Sign; Display of Nike sneakers; sales clerks with customers)
Roberta Baskin reporting:
(Voiceover) This is Nike Town in Chicago, where shoppers pay dearly for the hottest shoes in the world.
Unidentified Salesclerk #1: Your total was $97.87.
(Footage of cash register display)
Unidentified Salesclerk #2: (Voiceover) The total is $92.44
(footage of woman's hands coutning money; poster of baseball player wearing Nikes; close-up of Cross-Trainer sneakers)
Unidentified Salesclerk #3: (Voiceover) seventy-eight thirty-six is your total.
Baskin: (Voiceover) A hundred forty dollars for these Cross Trainers.
Unidentified Salesclerk #4: This model, ma'am, is $125.
(Footage of shoper looking at sneaker; close-up of 'made in Vietnam' label)
Baskin: (Voiceover) If you look clsely, Nike are sporting a new label 'made in Vietnam.'
(Footage of Saigon; children; Pepsi billboard; electronic coca-Cola ad; Just Do It. Sign; traffice; people; Nike Town factories; workers)
Baskin: (Voiceover) The signs are everywhere of an American invasion in search of cheap labor. Millions of people who are literate, disciplined and desperate for jobs. This is Nike Town near what used to be called Saigon, one of five factories Nike doesn't own but subcontracts to make a million shoes a month. It takes 25,000 workers, mostly young women, to 'Just Do It.'
(footage of workers entering factory gates; workers)
Baskin: (Voiceover) But the workers here don't share in Nike's huge profits. They work six days a week for only $40 a month, just 20 cents an hour.
(footage of Baskin and Lap)
Baskin: (Voiceover)One worker, Lap, invited us to the room she rents near the Samyang factory.
This is your room?
Lap: (Foreign language spoken)
(Footage of Baskin and Lap in the room)
Baskin: (Voiceover) Her basic wage, even as a sewing team leader, still doesn't amount to the minimum wage.
For - this says you- you get $42 a month and you work six days a week.
(footage of Lap)
Baskin: (Voiceover) Of course, workers do get lunch on the job.
This is what you give them to eat.
(Footage of Baskin holding meal tickets, Lap)
Baskin: (Voiceover) But those meal tickets cost another 9 cents a day. Lap isn't allowed to bring her own lunch into the factory. She wants to study English, but at 28 Lap must support herself and cannot afford to go to a university.
How healthy have you been since you've had this job?
Lap: (Foreign language spoken)
Baskin: (Voiceover) 'I have lost my strength and some weight, 17 pounds.'
(Footage of Lap and her home)
Baskin: (Voiceover) she's down to 85 pounds. Like most of the women who make the shoes, she has little choice but to accept the low wages and long hours. Nike says it requires all subcontractors to obey local laws; but Lap has already put in much more overtime than the annual legal limt: 200 hours.
What happened if you want to leave? If you're sick or you have something you need to do or you need to take care of a relative, can you leave the factory?
Lap: (through Translator) It is not possible if you havent' made enough shoes. You have to meet the quota before you can go home.
Thuy:(Foreign language spoken)
(Footage of Baskin talking to Lap and Thuy)
(Footage of Thuy; photograph from newspaper articles of Madame Baeck and others)
Baskin: (Voiceover) Thuy and 14 other team leaders were singled out and punished by their Korean supervisor, Madame Baeck, seen here sitting at a table with the Nike shoe she used to hit the women. It was in retaliation for some poor sewing.
Thuy: (Voiceover) (Through Translator) She hit all the 15 team leaders in turn from the first one to the 15th..
Baskin: Did she actually beat you with part of a shoe?
Thuy:(Through Translator) Yes, she did.
(Footage of newspapers being printed; newspaper headline; photograph of Baeck and graphic overlay "it's not a big deal. It's just a method for managing workers.")
Baskin: (Voiceover) The beatings were widely reported in the Vietnamese newspapers as violent acts against 15 workers. Madame Baeck's reply? Quote, "It's not a big deal. It's just a method of managing workers."
Did she hurt you?
Thuy: (Through Translator) The physical pain didn't last long, but the pain I feel in my heart will never disappear.
Mr. Robert TEMPLER (Journalist): Certainly, there has been a fair number of incidents of physical abuse of workers
(Footage of Templer talking with Baskin)
Baskin: (Voiceover) Robert Templer, a journalist in Vietnam, has been reporting on foreign labor issues.
How are people talking about it here in Vietnam?
Mr. Templer: It sort of crept into the vocabulary. The phrase "to Nike" is essentially to ke take out one's frustrations on a fellow worker.
Baskin: The word has become a verb - "to Nike" someone?
Mr. Templer: Amongst-year, in certain areas, yeah.
(Footage of newspapers)
Baskin: (Voiceover) Armed with reports that abuses at this factory triggered three strikes, we wanted to talk with workers.
Government officials set up a meeting for us here at the Samyang, Vietnam, factory. But when we arrived factory management had changed its mind and turned us away. All we can do is wait here to talk to workers at the end of their Saturday shift.
(Footage of Baskin waiting by factory gates; workers leaving factory; downpour)
Baskin: (Voiceover) We waited for hours. And then, just as the factory gates opened, so did the skies. Still we managed to find some of the women who had been beaten.
(Footage of Baskin sitting with workers)
Baskin: (Voiceover) After drying off, we sat down to talk at a small café across the road from the factory. Lap was among them.
Unidentified Woman #1: (Foreign language spoken)
Woman #1: (Through Translator) The supervisor used the shoe upper without a sole on it.
Baskin: On the - on the - on the head?
Woman #1: (Through Translator) She hit us on the side of the neck and the head, all of the 15 team leaders. Each person was two or three times.
Unidentified Woman #2: (Foreign language spoken)
Lap: (Foreign language spoken)
Baskin: (Voiceover) One woman after another confirmed the beating.
Unidentified woman #3: (Through Translator) I am team leader number 11, and when they came to leader number 10 and I saw what was happening, that's when I ran away. Two people went to the hospital and I was one of them.
(Photo of Madame Baeck; footage of people reading newspaper; newspaper articles with graphic overlay " mouth taped shut " and " forced to kneel down and raise their hands in the sky for 25 minutes ")
Baskin: (Voiceover) For the first time ever, a foreigner was put on trial for assaulting workers. Madame Baeck was convicted but allowed to leave the country, causing a huge outcry. Even after the conviction, more abuses were revealed - a woman's mouth taped shut because she was talking during working hours; 45 women disciplined, forced to kneel down and raise their hands in the sky for 25 minutes straight.
Madame Khanh (Labor Official): (Through Translator) We can in no way accept this.
(Footage of Madame Khanh)
Baskin: (Voiceover) Madame Khanh a senior government labor official.
Madame Khanh: (Through Translator) You know, our customs, culture and courtesies are in no way less than those in America.
(Footage of Baskin and Woman #1)
Madame Khanh: (Voiceover) (Through Translator) When somebody uses that means of punishment with women, we see that as a real offense.
(Footage of newspaper with graphic overlay "Korean supervisor molests Vietnamese female workers and flees Vietnam."
Baskin: (Voiceover) But the most recent incident may be the most disturbing of all. A Korean supervisor molested Vietnamese female workers, and soon after he fled Vietnam.
Madame Khanh: (Through Translator) He broke the law. Someone has to bear the responsibility.
(Footage of Nike building; close-up of Nike Air sign; newspapers; factory workers)
Baskin: (Voiceover) Nike says the supervisor's behavior was unacceptable and steps have been taken to prevent it from happening again. But somehow in all the newspaper reports about the labor abuses, you never see Nike's name. Remember, Nike doesn't own the factories. Its Korean subcontractors do, and it's the Koreans who have been catching the blame while Nike keeps a low profile.
Madame Khanh: (Through Translator) They see this matter as totally unrelated to them. They just stand behind someone else.
(Footage of Baskin at Hanoi Coca-Cola plant; Coca-Cola being processed)
Baskin: (Voiceover) How are other American companies faring in Vietnam? Coca-Cola is doing just fine, owning and operating its own factories.
Why not just subcontract all of this?
Unidentified Man #1: I think you want to control your own destiny. Instead of cheap wages, we would rather look at productivity.
(Footage of Coca-Cola workers)
Baskin: (Voiceover) Coca-Cola workers are offered English classes and sales trianing. The pay is about twice the Vietnamese minimum wage.
Man: Our general laborers make about $80 a month.
(Footage of Nike workers)
Baskin: (Voiceover) But all these Nike workers want is a decent wage.
What would you tell Nike?
Woman #1: (Through Translator) Higher pay.
Lap: (Through Translator) I'd like to buy a pair of Nikes as a souvenir, but how could I ever have enough money?
(Footage of Man#2 putting hand in front of camera; Baskin entering Nike headquarters in Vietnam)
Unidentified man #2: No!
Baskin: (Voiceover) With factory managers unwilling to talk, we went to Nike headquarters in Vietnam to see the man in charge.
Hi. Mr Sotherin
Mr. Sotherin (Nike Inc., Vietnam): Hello. May I help you?
Baskin: I'm Roberta Baskin
Baskin: from CBS News.
Mr. Sotherin: Yeah.
Baskin: I wanted to talk to you about the problems that you're having in the factories here.
(Footage of Sotherin blocking camera with hand)
Baskin: About problems with
Mr. Sotherin: We have
Baskin: Vietnamese workers who have been hit
Mr.Sotherin: Excuse Me.
Baskin: humiliated, sexually assaulted?
Mr. Sotherin: We-I have things to do. Thank you.
(Footage of Nike headquarter in United States; shareholders' meeting; Phil Knight addressing meeting)
Baskin: (Voiceover) So we came back to the United States to Nike headquarters
Unidentified Woman #4: Thank you.
Baskin: (Voiceover) where they're celebrating.
Mr. Phil Knight: ..day split sock two for one.
(applause from shareholders)
Baskin: (Voiceover) That part of the story next.
(Footage from Indonesia, three years ago, woman, Nike sneakers being made; of Just Do It. Sign: Vietnam traffic; Nike factory)
Roberta Baskin reporting:
(Voiceover) The year is 1993. You're outside Djakarta, where CBS News first exposed problems with Nike overseas operations - company subcontractors paying less than the minimum wage.
Is this enough to live on?
(Footage of workers)
Baskin: (Voiceover) Since then, wages have scared and that's why Nike, looking to expand, made a move - to Vietnam. New country, same old story. Only longer hours, even lower wages, mainly to women.
(Excerpt for Nike TV Commercial)
Unidentified Teen: There's a girl being born in America and someone will give her a doll and someone will give her a ball and then someone will give her a chance.
(End of Excerpt. Footage of Nike shareholders meeting)
Baskin: (Voiceover) But what chance is Nike giving women worker in Vietnam? That question brought us to Oregon, Nike world headquarters where shareholders are celebrating record profits
(Graphic on screen)
Revenue + 36% $6.49 BILLION
EPS +37% $3.73
Mr. Phil Knight (Nike Founder): The board of directors yesterday split stock two for one.
Baskin: (Voiceover) profits that have made Nike founder Phil Knight the sixth richest man in America.
(Footage of protesters)
Baskin: (Voiceover) But outside demonstrators are angry.
(Footage of protesters' signs)
Unidentified Woman #1: (Voiceover) It's not enough. People are hungry when they're working int he factories.
So Nike can and should do better.
(Footage of shareholders' meeting; Knight)
Baskin: (Voiceover) And inside, some shareholders are looking for answers.
Unidentified Man: To quote you, Mr. Knight, "Nike likes being held to a higher standard. " It is in that spirit that some of us shareholders are asking you to raise the bar on your social performance.
Baskin: (Voiceover) Phil Knight has heard it before.
Mr. Knight: All anybody has to do is call a Nike factory a sweatshop that's 12,000 miles away, and how do you prove it or disprove it?
(Footage of Vietnam Nike factory: Baskin and Lap; close up of Lap's paystub; Vietnamese Nike worker)
Baskin: (Voiceover) We got our proof by going to Vietnam, finding workers earning 20 cents an dhour and talking about abuse. But to hear Phil Knight tell it
Mr. Knight: We had a - a stitching room forelady-a Korean forelady in - in one of the Vietnamese factories, you know, hit a Vietnamese stitcher on the - on the arm with an upper and a - an incident was made out of that.
(Footage of Thuy; Vietnamese Nike workers)
Baskin: (Voiceover) Remember, the incident involved not one, but 15 women lined up by their supervisor and hit in the face and head.
Did anybody from Nike ever came to talk to you about it?
Group of Women: (Through Translator) No. Nobody ever came.
Mr. John Thompson (Coach, Georgetown University): We felt that we were interested in just trying to find out exactly what was going on.
(Footage of John Thompson addressing meeting; Knight)
Baskin: (Voiceover) In fact, just before its shareholders meeting, Nike did send Georgetown University coach John Thompson, a paid board member, to check out the factories.
Mr. Thompson: We are striving for some improvements. We're not perfect, but I did not see the kinds of things that I had heard about.
(Footage of meeting)
Baskin: (Voiceover) We wanted to talk to Phil Knight's about his company's problems in Vietnam.
Why won't Nike do an interview about this?
Mr. Keith Peters (Nike): Nike has been very, very open with groups that we feel are objective. As Phil said, I think he used the terms 'independent' and 'sincere in their interest,' and those are the groups we choose to work with. For now, we don't happen to think 48 HOURS falls into that group.
Baskin: It sounds like
(Footage of Baskin talking with Peters)
Baskin: (Voiceover) Keith Peters is Nike's public relations man.
Well, I'm baffled about Phil Knight would talk about a specific incident that actually went to court in Vietnam and misrepresent it that way. Why would he say one worker was hit when 15 were hit?
Mr. Peters: I think Mr. Knight cares very much about the incidents and the facts.
Baskin: But he doesn't have the facts. Or if he does have the facts, he's not telling that to his shareholders.
Mr. Peters: As you heard Mr. Knight, in a very open forum, say that we have a lot to learn, a lot to work on and that's something that we're getting after.
(Footage of Nike factory building)
Baskin: (Voiceover) It turns out Nike has a great deal to learn about what goes on inside these factories.
Did you know about the workers who were - who were made to kneel on the ground, 45 of them, for 25 minutes with their hands in the air? Are you familiar with that incident?
Mr. Peters: Roberta, it's
Baskin: Does that-does that bother you?
Mr. Peters: Roberta, it bothers me very much when things
Baskin: Were you aware of th
Mr. Peters: happen to workers. It bothers me very much.
Baskin: Were you aware of that incident?
Mr. Peters: I was not aware of that incident.
(Footage of Nike factory and workers. Just Do It. Sign; Madame Khanh)
Baskin: (Voiceover) Nike now says the supervisor involved was relieved of his duties; that everyone is satisfied. But Vietnamese authorities are far from satisfied.
Madame Khanh (Labor Official): (Through Translator) If the company intentionally turns away from this, it will have an effect on their reputation. People will hear their name and just won't believe them.
Dan Rather, Host:
Nike now says it plans to hire outside observers to talk to employees and examine working conditions in its Vietnam factories, but the company won't say just when that might happens.