Global apparel giant, Nike, has decided it will no longer compel any of its supplier factories to be accessed or inspected by independent auditing organizations like the Worker Rights Consortium (WRC). Not only is this a blatant violation of college and university codes of conduct, but this will have a devastating impact on garment workers across the globe who rely on the ability to communicate with the WRC when their basic rights are violated in the workplace.
Nike has a long history of documented labor and human rights violations, including unpaid wages, violence towards women, anti-union retaliation, and factory fires, among others. In fact, it was violations at a Nike supplier factory in Mexico which led colleges and universities to take action to ensure independent monitoring in the first place.
If the WRC is refused access and the ability to inspect Nike’s supplier factories, the public will have no way of knowing whether college-logoed apparel is being made under sweatshop conditions. No brand, including Nike, can be trusted to voluntarily monitor its own factories with any credibility. And more than that, workers need the ability to speak up when they are paid poverty wages, face violent union retaliation, or are refused safe factory conditions.
Fortunately, students, workers, and faculty are speaking up at colleges and universities across the country in coordination with United Students Against Sweatshops (USAS). Students at dozens of campuses are demanding universities put a stop to Nike’s latest attack on its workers. In fact, in February, over 600 faculty from around the country signed onto a sign-on letter that was sent to Nike’s CEO, Mark Parker. Global unions like the Central General de Trabajadores de Honduras, SITRASTAR, and the Free Trade Zones & General Services Employees Union from Sri Lanka, among others, have all written letters to universities explaining the important role the WRC can play for their members. Support for the campaign is only continuing to build.
The choice is up to Nike now: either let the WRC in, or lose the trust of students and their colleges and universities.