air max command baratas Nike Identifies Plants Abroad Making Goods For Universities
In a significant concession to the anti sweatshop movement on college campuses, Nike Inc. became the first large apparel company yesterday to disclose the names and sites of dozens of its overseas factories a move that the college groups said was vital to uncover unsatisfactory working conditions.
Student groups praised Nike for its disclosures about factories in Bangladesh, China, Guatemala, Thailand and other countries, saying that having the names and addresses would make it far easier to verify whether Nike had made good on its promises to improve working conditions.
Last spring, students held demonstrations at Harvard, Yale, Princeton and dozens of other colleges and universities, demanding that universities force companies making apparel with school logos to disclose the names and addresses of their factories. All told, manufacturers like Nike, Champion, Adidas and Gear for Sports produce $2.5 billion worth of goods each year bearing the names of hundreds of colleges.
Nike, the giant footwear manufacturer, which has been a prime target of labor rights groups, disclosed the names of the 41 overseas factories it uses to make athletic gear for Duke, Georgetown, the University of Michigan, the University of North Carolina and the University of Arizona. The 41 factories are in 11 countries and make sweatshirts, T shirts, shorts and other apparel carrying school names.
Until Nike’s move yesterday, apparel companies refused to disclose the names and addresses of their factories, asserting that such information was a valuable secret. Many companies said they feared that if their competitors learned where their factories were, those competitors might try to supplant them at those factories in an effort to expand.
Nike’s disclosures are expected to place considerable pressure on other apparel makers to follow suit, especially because several universities have threatened to drop their licensees unless they make similar disclosures.
”What Nike did is important,” said Eric Brakken, an organizer for United Students Against Sweatshops, a coalition of campus groups. ”It blows open the whole notion that other companies are putting forward that they can’t make such disclosures.”
Mr. Brakken added, ”Disclosure is important because it allows us to talk to people in these overseas communities religious leaders, human rights leaders who are then able to go and examine and verify working conditions.”
Newsletter Sign Up
In demonstrations last year, students demanded not only that apparel companies disclose factory names but also that factories pay a living wage and take strong action to prevent harassment and discrimination against female workers.
Nike announced its disclosure by running advertisements in newspapers at the five universities.
”We decided that it was the right way to go as a company,” said Simon Pestridge, Nike’s manager for labor practices. ”If a university decides that disclosure is the way to go, then that university has an absolute right to know where that product is produced. We’ve never disagreed with the philosophy that students and universities have a right to know that.”
University officials welcomed Nike’s move. Rutledge Tufts, an administrator at the University of North Carolina, who is co chairman of that school’s licensing labor code advisory committee, said that Nike was setting a great example and that the school was asking other licensees to do the same thing.
Mr. Tufts said having factories inspected every few months might not be enough to insure fair working conditions. ”What we’re hoping is that with these disclosures, groups in the communities around the factories will be able to support these efforts to insure satisfactory conditions,” he said. ”That way, we’ll be able to get a picture of conditions across the entire year rather than at moments in time.”
Bruce Siegal, general counsel of the Collegiate Licensing Corporation, which represents 180 colleges and universities in negotiations with manufacturers, said: ”Many universities will certainly view Nike’s action as a step in the right direction. Will other license manufacturers follow suit? I don’t know. But Nike has certainly raised the stakes.”
Nike’s announcement was one of the biggest victories thus far by the campus anti sweatshop movement.
Jo Ann Mort, communications director for the nation’s largest apparel workers’ union, the Union of Needletrades, Industrial and Textile Employees, said: ”This is a small, but significant victory gained by the student movement. Not too long ago, Nike and other corporations insisted that public disclosure would destroy their business.”