Nike in the News
Between the months of March to November, 1997, there have been four reports about Nike labor practices in Vietnam, Indonesia and China released by Vietnam Labor Watch (New York), Community Aid Abroad (Sydney), Hong Kong Christian Industrial Committee (Hong Kong) and Transnational Resource & Action Center (San Francisco). Each report generated many newspaper articles and editorials about Nike's horrible treatment of its factory workers. The most important report is the one from TRAC which includes an internal Nike document which details the horrible labor conditions in its factories. Caught red-handed, Nike can no longer deny labor problems in its factories and can no longer hide behind its multi-million dollar public-relation campaign to clean up its image.
Contrary to Nike's claims that consumer protests of its labor practices came from false information on web sites maintained by fringe groups, the following articles demonstrate clearly that information about Nike labor practices came from mainstream newspapers such as the New York Times, Washington Post, Dow Jones, USA Today, AP, Reuters etc.
CBS News 48 Hours Transcript: Here is the report that started it all for us.
Nike Labor Practices in Vietnam by Vietnam Labor Watch.
Nike in Indonesia. Before Viet Nam, Nike was in Indonesia with similar stories of low wage and abuse.
Nike Labor Practices in China by the Hong Kong Christian Industrial Committee and Asian Monitor Resource Centre. Nike is not only exploiting workers in Vietnam. It is also in China exploiting and abusing workers. Conditions in China shoe factories are even worse than in Vietnam.
Nike and Child Labor. Nike is not only exploiting women workers in Vietnam, Indonesia and China. Nike products has been found to be made by child labor in Pakistan.
The Globe-Trotting Sport Shoe: from Christian Aid. This article explains in detail the practice and economics of the Sport Shoe industry.
The Young and The Feckless from The New Republic. The New Republic investigated Andrew Young's report on Nike labor practices and found many problems: labor union officials that turn out to be Nike employees, listed consultants that were never consulted, using factory managers as translators in meetings with factory workers.
Nike Labor Practice in the News
Jan 30, 1999. Nike taken to task for exec's letter The four activist groups that signed on to President Clinton's anti-sweatshop initiative blasted Nike Inc. on Friday for what they termed the "anti-democratic and authoritarian values" espoused by a senior company executive. The four groups asked that Nike fire or otherwise sanction Joseph Ha, a Nike vice president, as well as publicly disavow the sentiments Ha expressed in a Jan. 11 letter to the Vietnamese government. Ha, one of two special assistants to Nike Chairman Phil Knight, accused activists who criticized conditions in Nike's Vietnamese factories of also seeking to oust the country's communist government.
Jan 29, 1999. Presidential Apparel Industry Partnership lashes out against Nike. It asks that Nike either fire or severely punished Nike vice-president Joseph Ha for making false accusations that US labor groups harbor political agenda to subvert Vietnam. The letter said: "The only way that Nike can recover its integrity in this matter is to reverse publicly, in Vietnam, its position and make clear to the Vietnamese government and the Vietnam General Confederation of Labor that Nike values the work of human rights monitors in general and that, in particular, it recognizes and respects the positive work of the Vietnam Labor Watch organization headed by Mr. Thuyen Nguyen. For this step to carry sufficient weight, it is necessary for Nike to encourage Mr. Thuyen Nguyen publicly to continue his important advocacy work in Vietnam, and to accompany him in meetings with Vietnamese officials to correct the wrong done to him by the letter from Joseph Ha.
Jan 21, 1999. Nike made false accusation that anti-Nike Viet-American labor activists harbor hidden political agenda. We demand an apology and a retraction for making careless and dangerous accusations that anti-Nike Vietnamese American labor groups have hidden political agenda in Vietnam. There are no hidden agenda among anti-Nike Viet-American labor groups including Vietnam Labor Watch (VLW). To the contrary, Vietnam Labor Watch has aggressively advocated improving trade-relation between the US and Vietnam. Our goal is to have more US investment in Vietnam because most US companies are good employers. Nike is simply one of the exception and has earned its well-deserved shameful reputation as a promoter of sweatshops in the 3rd world.
Jan 20, 1999. Nike does not support democratic society in Vietnam. According to AP, a Nike vice-president Jozef Ha said labor activist groups "target Nike because Nike helps to create many jobs in Vietnam. Their political objective is to create a so-called democratic society on the U.S. model. A nation should not necessarily apply the model of another nation. Each nation has its own internal political system. Nike believes completely in this."
April 20, 1998. Nike Sued Over Sweatshop Conditions. The following press statement was released today by Communications Works: (415) 255-1946, WORKS@IGC.ORG . Staff at Communications Works, a progressive news service, emphasized that the law firms involved have the track record, the resources and the will to pursue this suit vigorously. This lawsuit could be tremendously important in pressuring Nike to undertake a systematic reform of its labor practices. The object is not to have Nike bring its claims down to the level of its practices but instead to force the company to bring its labor practices up to the level of its claims.
April 12, 1998. Made in Vietnam: The Sneaker Controversy. In this one-hour report, ESPN offers a powerful documentation that Nike has not clean up its act in Vietnam. ESPN reports three incidents of physical abuse, one just as recently as March 1998. ESPN describes the health hazzards and carcinogens that Nike factory workers have to face day to day. ESPN also shows what it's like to be a factory worker living in poverty, facing the daily grind of overtime and verbal abuse and the fear of retaliation so strong that workers would not speak up even when they are cheated from their hard-earned salaries.
Nov. 07, 1997. Nike Shoe Plant in Vietnam Is Called Unsafe for Workers from the New York Times. In an inspection report that was prepared in January for the company's internal use only, Ernst & Young wrote that workers at the factory near Ho Chi Minh City were exposed to carcinogens that exceeded local legal standards by 177 times in parts of the plant and that 77 percent of the employees suffered from respiratory problems. The report also said that employees at the site, which is owned and operated by a Korean subcontractor, were forced to work 65 hours a week, far more than Vietnamese law allows, for $10 a week.
Oct. 31, 1997. Activists share information about Nike with Dean Smith from AP.
Oct. 26, 1997. The Trouble With Role Models from Washington Post. Among the many carefully detailed omissions and distortions in the Young report is the highly embarrassing fact that Young, in talking with Vietnamese workers, used Nike translators. As Stephen Glass notes, Garry Trudeau -- in his widely syndicated comic strip, Doonesbury -- presented a Nike translator rendering "the [Asian] workers' pleas of mistreatment into joyous reports of a labor paradise."
Oct. 26, 1997. Women's groups blast Nike's latest ad campaign from Reuters. Fifteen U.S. women's groups, author Alice Walker and the head of the Congressional Black Caucus joined forces on Monday to put pressure on Nike Inc. (NIKE) to improve conditions for its workers in Asia. The groups took issue with Nike's latest advertising campaign, which features women empowered by athletics, saying Nike's treatment of Asian factory workers -- most of whom are young women -- must improve if U.S. women were to buy Nike products in good conscience
Sep. 27, 1997. Some Youthful Foes Go Toe to Toe With Nike from the New York Times. Dozens of young people from 11 settlement houses around the city are planning to dump their old Nikes at the store to protest what they say is the shoe company's double exploitation of the poor. They are part of a growing movement that has criticized Nike for underpaying workers in Asian factories -- about $3 a day in Indonesia, for example -- while charging style-setting teen-agers upward of $100 for the shoes.
Sep. 15, 1997. The New Republic. But if the Nike report was "classic Andy Young," it was also a classic sham, marred not just by shoddy methodology but by frequent misrepresentations. The report lists consultants who were never consulted and includes photos of union representatives who, it turns out, were not union officials. Young deliberately avoided the most obvious and controversial question-- whether Nike paid its employees fair wages--and, when gathering testimony, he relied almost exclusively on translators employed by the Nike factories.
July 7, 1997, Monday Journal of Commerce A Korean-owned factory in Vietnam that makes shoes for Nike Inc. recently issued a public apology to its workers for violating a Vietnamese law limiting overtime work
July 7, 1997, Monday Journal of Commerce Vietnam protects its labor force; Foreign investors face fines for infractions. Left untold in Garry Trudeau's satirical comic strip is the hard line Vietnam has taken toward foreign investors that overstep their bounds.extent to which that hard line adheres to standards set by the International Labor Organization, however, could lead to tensions with organized labor in the United States.
July 6, 1997, South China Morning Post Having returned from his trip with a virtual clean bill of health for Nike, Mr Young's report, issued last week, has indeed developed into a PR embarrassment for the company, which had hoped it would put the ghosts of the sweatshop issue to rest.
June 29, 1997, The Associated Press. A floor manager at a Taiwanese-owned factory that makes shoes for Nike was sentenced Friday to six months in prison for physically abusing workers.
June 25, 1997 Journal of Commerce Nike Inc. should use its ""enormous leverage'' over its Asian subcontractors to improve grievance procedures for workers and promote external monitoring of its factories by outside experts, according to a report issued Tuesday by former U.N. Ambassador Andrew Young.
June 22, 1997. AP reports another incident of abuse occured at a Nike factory in May 1997. This incident occured after Andrew Young visited the factory and during the time when Mr. Young was preparing his report on Nike's labor practices. It was not a surprise to find that this incident was not mention in Mr. Young's report.
June 21, 1997. Thanh Nien Newspaper The truth behind Nike statemtents. Nike contractors instituted new measures to fine workers for "arbitrary" mistakes (needle breakage, taking sick days) to re-coop recent workers' salary gains.
June 17, 1997. South China Morning Post Nike has provided misinformation to the public in its criticism of Garry Trudeau, the creator of the Doonesbury comic strip. Nike claimed that workers receive free medical care, English lessons and training classes. Nike workers in Vietnam do not receive free English lessons and training classes, nor do they receive free medical care. All factory workers pay for their own health insurance, which is deducted from their monthly paycheque.
June 6, 1997. South China Morning Post Nike attacks Doonesbury in a letter filled with misinformation.
April 24, 1997. Journal of Commerce. On Tuesday, 10,000 workers at PT Hasi, a Nike subcontractor 30 miles west of Jakarta, walked off their jobs and staged a protest march, according to press reports and the company.
April 21, 1997. The Guardian. The Vietnamese women who work for Nike's manufacturers, exist in conditions barely distinguishable from slavery, which is ironic since so much was made about Woods being the first black golfer to win a major, two days before the 50th anniversary of Jackie Robinson breaking major league baseball's colour bar.
April 20, 1997. Dayton Daily News. Sexual harassment, verbal abuse and corporal punishment are common occurrences. "It's a common occurrence to have workers faint from exhaustion, heat and poor nutrition during their shifts. We were told several workers even coughed up blood before fainting.''
April 20, 1997. The New York Times Sweatshop fight off to a good start.
April 20, 1997. Ashbury Park Press. Would we end sweatshop after the Clinton's Apparel Industry Partnership agreement? No Way. Aside from great PR for the clothing makers - some of whom, like Nike, have been the most flagrant abusers - there are ambiguities enough to satisfy any Scroogelike CEO. Let's take a closer look
April 18, 1997. Cleveland Plain Dealer. It was his moral opposition to the war in Vietnam that made Muhammad Ali more than a great boxer in the 1970s. John Carlos and Tommie Smith endured the wrath of the International Olympic Committee to protest racial inequality in 1968. Magic Johnson resigned from President Bush's AIDS Commission in the 1990s to protest its inactivity.
April 17, 1997. Newsday. No Sweat Label May Be Misleading.
April 17, 1997. The Los Angeles Times. The results of President Clinton's task force's eight-month study demonstrate all too clearly that we cannot leave the fate of the world's apparel workers in the hands of presidential commissions. To really put an end to sweatshops, we must continue to mobilize public opinion, support struggling factory workers and pressure abusive corporations until workers at home and abroad are paid living wages and treated with dignity.
April 15, 1997. Inter-Press Service Women are most vulnerable because they are young, relatively uneducated, usually unmarried, with very little experience in dealing with authority and almost no knowledge of their rights.
April 15, 1997. Cleveland Plain Dealer. All Americans should be appalled that one of our companies would conduct business like this. I urge everyone to write their elected officials and let them know that this kind of business is ethically and morally wrong. Evidently, Nike doesn't mind that the people who manufacture its products are not fairly paid or respected in the workplace.
April 14, 1997. News & Records There is no need to abuse foreign workers, any of whom make 20 cents an hour for their labor, but there is no need to wreck the value system of our youth just to be able to pay millions of dollars a year to any group of people for their endorsement.
April 13, 1997. LA Daily. Nike concerned with images not just shoes.
April 10, 1997. Chicago Sun Times Nike is about Sweat - Sweat Shops.
April 6, 1997. Bergen News It's getting to be a tired refrain. First comes an expose of conditions at Nike's manufacturing operations in Vietnam, then a promise from the American athletic-shoe giant that it is addressing the problem.
April 4, 1997. Chicago Tribune. It's time to flush the swoosh.
April 3, 1997. Buffalo News. Where's Nike's concern for its shoemakers? And American consumers -- the buyers of the expensive shoes -- should push Nike, if necessary. Otherwise we get a slice of the blame.
April 1, 1997. LA Times. Elsewhere on the Sweatshop Scene: Nike is accused of underpaying and abusing Vietnamese factory workers.
April 1, 1997. The Associated Press. Authorities in southern Vietnam have charged a Nike factory manager with abusing her employees, a police spokesman said yesterday. The charges come just days after the U.S. shoe giant suspended the manager for allegedly forcing factory workers to run laps as punishment.
March 31, 1997. The New York Times. Nike's Boot Camp. Profit-hungry; Workers' empty bellies help fill Nike's pockets.
March 29, 1997. The New York Times On March 8, which happened to be International Women's Day, 56 women employed at a factory making Nike shoes in Dong Nai, Vietnam, were punished because they hadn't worn regulation shoes to work. Factory officials ordered the women outside and made them run around the factory in the hot sun.
The women ran and ran and ran. One fainted, and then another. Still they ran. They would be taught a lesson. They had worn the wrong shoes to work. More women fainted. The ordeal didn't end until a dozen workers had collapsed.
March 28, 1997. The Associated Press Teenage girls paid 20 cents an hour to make $180 Nike sneakers are worked to exhaustion a labor activist said Thursday. At another Nike contractor a floor manager forced 56 women to run around the plant in the hot sun as punishment for wearing nonregulation shoes. Twelve fainted and were taken to the hospital.
March 28, 1997. Reuters Many factory workers who make Nike Inc. shoes in Vietnam are paid low wages, suffer abuse and even corporal punishment, a group of human rights and labor activists charged Thursday.
Feb 16, 1997. The Washington Post. Reaping Abuse for What They Sew; Sweatshops Once Again Commonplace in U.S. Garment Industry. An in-depth look into the economics of sweatshops, and at the hidden atrocities of the retail industry.
Feb. 02, 1997. Agence France Presse. Small investors take Vietnam labour rights back to the 19th century. According to figures published by the Lao Dong union newspaper, 73 strikes occurred in Vietnam in 1996, an increase of 22 percent on 1995. Most of the strikes were at foreign-invested firms.
Feb. 01, 1997. Los Angeles Times. Sweatshop Panel Agrees on Monitor, Some Standards. White House task force remains divided over wages and hours. It will send proposals to Clinton, who is expected to endorse the recommendations.
Jan. 28, 1997. Los Angeles Times. Teens' Efforts Give Soccer Balls the Boot. Activism: Students persuade LAUSD to stop buying gear from countries that use child labor.
Dec. 25, 1996. The New York Times. Amid New Wealth of Trade, A Humanizing Movement
Dec. 24, 1996. AP, Dow Jones News. ReebokInternational Ltd, a U.S. athletic footwear company, has contracted the Hiep Hung Shoe Co. for a $20 million in 1997. The workers at Reebok factories will be making $67 a month which is much higher than Nike workers who are getting $45 a month. The other good news about Reebok's announcement is that shoe manufacturers like Nike can no longer use the excuse that Vietnamse companies do not have the expertise to run a shoe factory. This reason is often used by Nike for sticking with those subcontractors even when they have a track record of worker abuse and operating boot camp factories
Dec. 22, 1996. The Boston Globe. Christmas And Conscience
Dec. 22, 1996. The Boston Globe. Read Labels, Learn Their Meaning, Voice Your Concerns.
Dec. 18, 1996. The Journal of Commerce. UN, US reports: Child labor down in Southeast Asian textile industry
Dec. 18, 1996. PRNewswire. Nike 2nd Qtr earnings report.
Dec. 16, 1996. Los Angeles Times. A crowd picketed in front of the Nike Town in Costa Mesa to demand that Nike takes measures to ensure that workers overseas have the same basic rights as those in the United States.
December 16, 1996. U.S. News & World Report Santa's Sweatshop Nike is criticized for manufacturing many of its shoes in tough labor conditions in Indonesia.
Dec. 15, 1996. The Commercial Appeal (Memphis) 'Sweatshop Christmas' balanced, informative ...the editorial intention of U.S. News obviously was not to instill guilt or incite outrage. It was to inform consumers about the complexities of global trade in a comprehensive, balanced and unhysterical way and to provide them with some practical advice about finding out where and how an item they want to buy was made.Dec. 13, 1996, Canada NewsWire Ltd., Street Action On Nike Outside Sporting Life To bring attention to "sweatshop" conditions of workers making products for Nike in Asia and Latin America, Development and Peace, and the Labour Behind the Label Coalition will be leafletting outside Sporting Life, 2665 Yonge, at noon on Saturday, December 14th.
Dec. 13, 1996. Stern Publishing, Inc. OC Weekly. Just Do It! The Boycott Nike Campaign Comes To Nike Town
Dec. 8, 1996. The LA times. Where Does This Stuff Come From? "Part of what is going on with the sweatshops," said Danaher, "is that this consumer awareness movement is confronting people with a choice: Exploitation or human rights? They are being asked: Which side do you want to put yourself on?"
Dec. 5, 1996. The San Francisco Examiner. By Another Name, It Couldn't Be Sweatier
Nov. 17, 1996. Wisconsin State Journal Business Must See A Higher Standard There are those who will suggest that the term ''business ethics'' is an oxymoron -- that corporations cannot, and perhaps should not, be expected to meet basic standards of conduct. But, in a capitalist society, to accept such a ''reality'' is to surrender any hope for an end to child servitude, work-related deaths and injuries, corporate flight, downsizing, layoffs and other abuses of the relationship between employer and employee.
Nov. 26, 1996. Wellington Newspapers Limited. Ethics And Edibles For Consumers The core issue is one that divided poor and rich nations at the Rome World Food Summit which ended last week: How to ensure fair business - and not necessarily "free" trade - in a world where 850 million people go hungry.
Nov. 25, 1996. PRNewswire. Nike announces a new stitching center in Pakistan.
Nov. 20, 1996. Interpress Service. Thailand-Labor: Thai Industry Can't Compete On Six Dollars A Day
Nov. 5, 1996. The Journal of Commerce. Labor Standards To Get Broad Input
Nov. 3, 1996. Washington Post. Nike is not only exploiting workers in Vietnam. It is also in China exploiting and abusing workers. Conditions in China shoe factories are even worse than in Vietnam. This article describes horrible incidents where several women workers were locked in cages guarded by dogs for poor sewing.Nov. 1, 1996. AP-News. Justice Department OK's Sweatshop measures.
Oct. 31, 1996. Nike Press Release. The opening of NikeTown in New York City is where we have our first protest. This shoe store costs Nike over $200 million to build, 4 times more than what Nike paid to all of its factory workers last year.
Oct. 30, 1996. The Inter-Press Agency. Nike Campaign Strikes at Firm's Record in Asia
Oct. 30, 1996. CLR Press Release . Vietnamese Americans and Unite Protest Nike
Oct. 24, 1996. The Journal of Commerce. Prime Target Nike Runs Own Course Through Maze Of Labor Practices. Nike is elusive about its style of business, mainly because it is so roundly and routinely criticized. Most recently, social activist Jesse Jackson alleged that the company was running sweatshops in Indonesia.
Oct. 21, 1996. AP-News. U.S. Firms Responding to Pressure, But Tougher Monitoring Needed
Oct. 17, 1996. CBS News 48 Hours. Here is the report that started it all for us.
Oct. 3, 1996. CNW. Nike announces the establishment of Labor Practices Department headed by Dusty Kidd.
Sep. 19, 1996. AP-News. Investors Take a Stand Against Sweatshops.
Sep. 17, 1996. AP-News. Nike rejected a plan that would required indepedent monitoring of its factories.
Sep. 16, 1996. AP-News. Nike Reports Record Earnings, 2-For-1 Stock Split
Jul. 23, 1996. AP-News. Jesse Jackson returns from far east criticizing factory conditions.
Jul. 9, 1996. AP-News. Nike Profit Rises 38 Percent in Latest Quarter
Jun. 10, 1996. AP-News. Behind Celebrity Labels, a Problem Retailers Say They Can't Control
Jun. 6, 1996. AP-News. Jordan's Critics Say It Must Be the Shoes.
May. 28, 1996. Knight Ridder, Tribune. Nike is not only exploiting women workers in Vietnam, Indonesia and China. Nike products has been found to be made by child labor in Pakistan.