Nike’s track record.

So how do you sell a shoe for $180 that cost just $5 labor to make? Nike's grand strategy is quite simple - first, enter developing nations whose people are desperate for work because they are kept in poverty by brutal dictatorships. Nike's money will benefit these oppressive governments, who will in turn aid Nike in crushing labor unions and abusing workers. Second, Nike convinces America's youth to "Just Do It" and "Be like Mike" - emulating college and pro sports heroes. At the same time, they buy billions in advertising from national TV networks and millions more from major universities, which are slow to respond to Nike's actions in Asia. The result is a huge profit for Nike.

Just Don't Pay Workers.

The people making that $180 pair of shoes and other Nike gear and apparel are mostly young women, ages 16-24.. Though, in Pakistan, as of 1996, children were sewing Nike soccer balls for $0.60 a day. In China, new workers are illegally forced to pay one month's salary as a "deposit" which is forfeited if they do not work for a whole year. 75% of Indonesian workers will quit within a year. In Vietnam the average worker is paid about $0.20/hour, or $1.60/day. The cost of eating is reportedly $2.10/day. Although this figure is above the minimum wage, Nike's subcontractors do not even pay that. Many Vietnamese workers do not make the minimum wage of $45/month. Furthermore, in an interview of 35 workers, all confessed that in the first 90 days at the factory they received below minimum wage.

In Haiti, workers are paid $0.30 an hour - not enough to eat or to send children to school. However, Nike is not satisfied with the factory and recently announced that they are moving it to China.

Just Overwork Them.

In Vietnam, workers are forced to work 65 hours a week - for $10. Not only are they forced into overtime without compensation, the 65 hour work week is in clear violation of Vietnamese labor laws. Those employees that do last often work over 500 hours in overtime per year. The Vietnam law restricts a corporation to 200 hours in overtime per year.

Just Poison the Air.

Workers complain that many faint during shift from exhaustion, heat, fumes and poor nutrition. Ernst and Young similarly found in China that the plants have no safety goggles, fume hoods or gloves for workers handling dangerous chemicals such as benzene and toluene, a known carcinogen that poses a fatal risk. Exposure rates were upwards of 177 times that considered dangerous. In the same Chinese factory, almost 78% of the workers had a respiratory disease. Despite the respiratory illness, not one of the workers had been moved to a department that was free from these dangerous chemicals.

In this factory, there is one doctor and two nurses to service 10,000 workers. In the Sam Yang factory in Vietnam there is one doctor who works two hours a day to service 6,000 workers.

Just Abuse Laborers.

Employees in Vietnam have stated that verbal abuse and sexual harassment are frequent and that corporal punishment is often used. Supervisors have been reported to frequently grab the women's breasts and buttocks. Furthermore, according to the CBS News, 15 Vietnamese female workers were hit over the head with a Nike shoe for "poor sewing". 2 of them were sent to the hospital. In Indonesia a woman collapsed on the job and died because she did not receive medical attention. If the woman had taken a sick leave, she would have been fired. On International Women's Day, 56 women were forced to run around the outside of the factory in the hot sun for wearing nonregulation shoes. 12 of these women were hospitalized.

Just Stomp Unions.

Indonesian laborers have suffered a wide range of abuses for attempting to organize. One worker was locked in a factory room and interrogated for a week by the military. In Bangladesh, workers were involved in a protest requesting the release of 2 workers who had been jailed. Before giving their statement, the police fell upon the workers - 9 were jailed, 50 seriously injured and 250 others injured. 97 of the workers were fired and some 800 charged as criminals by the Indonesian government. Earlier that year, 10,000 workers at a factory in Tangerang went on strike over a pay raise of $0.20/day demanded by the Indonesian government. In response, the factory had threatened to cut the $7.75/month attendance bonus previously allotted to the workers. A consulting firm reported that 30% of business costs are payoffs to Indonesian generals, government officials and cronies. In the meantime, the Indonesian government is pressing for more stringent restrictions on labor unions. On the other ha d, according to the LA Weekly, a spokesman for Nike has offhandedly wondered out loud "whether or not Indonesia could be reaching a point where it is pricing itself out of the market."

Just Misinform Workers.

Nike has reportedly responded to many of these allegations by widely publishing their Code of Conduct in the factories. In Indonesia, at Nikomas (Niketown), about half of the code had been edited so that the workers would not understand they could file grievances with the company. Similarly, in Vietnam, few workers had even heard of the code or knew what provisions were within it.

Just Keep Moving.

Although Nike argues that they enter a country only when it is ready to make shoes and leave when it has developed past the point, the data suggest a different story. Nike's movement correlates with increased standard of living and increased union bargaining power. When the pressure for wage increase is put on, Nike moves. This corporate strategy allows for the cheapest labor costs and bargains with the worst governments. The result? They can keep making shoes for about $2.00/pair in labor costs. And according to the LA Weekly, even Indonesian officials have admitted that the types of jobs that Nike offers bring little "self-sustaining economic development".

The Just Don't Do It Campaign at the University of Michigan
The U. of Michigan's contract with Nike
Where it all began
Nike's track record
Nike drops the ball--the Andrew Young report
Answers to Frequently Asked Questions
Organizations, Resources, and References
Appendix 1. Breakdown of costs for a pair of Nike shoes
Appendix 2. Leak of the Ernst & Young report from Nike headquarters (NYT 11/8/97)

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