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by united students against sweatshops
Sunday, Jul. 30, 2006 at 2:22 AM
Students and community to hold demonstration and press briefing in response to Nike’s actively shutting down its non-sweatshop factories
July 29, 2006- On Saturday at noon, students, workers, and members of the community will rally with signs and banners at the Nike Town on Wilshire and Rodeo in Los Angeles to protest Nike’s continued dependence upon sweatshop labor. In addition, a press briefing will be held to notify the public that Nike is taking active steps to make sure that two of its few non-sweatshop factories are forced to shut down and an award will be presented to Nike for its continued commitment to sourcing from sweatshops.
For years, workers at the BJ&B factory in the Dominican Republic, which produces collegiate caps for Nike, were harassed, forced to work unpaid overtime, paid unacceptably low wages, and fired for attempting to stand up for their rights. However, in 2003, with the help of university students in the US, the workers of BJ&B won not only recognition for their union but, in addition, negotiated the first ever collective bargaining agreement within a Dominican free trade zone that provided for wages above the legal minimum.
Since then, Nike has not only paid so little for their goods that this agreement could not possibly be honored but, in addition, has withdrawn so many orders from the factory that its workforce has dropped from 1600 at the signing of the collective bargaining agreement to just 300 today. Just last month, 200 workers at the factory were laid off, leaving the factory on the brink of having to close its doors. At the same time, orders at other, non-union factories, that produce the same kinds of goods for Nike have risen in roughly the same proportion as orders at BJ&B have fallen, making it clear that Nike is actively moving its business not just in order avoid doing business with a factory in which the rights of workers are respected, but with the intention of ensuring that the factory will have to shut down.
A similar situation currently exists at Mexmode, a factory in Mexico producing university sweatshirts for Nike. In 2001, workers, working together with students and the university community, won union recognition and better working conditions. Unfortunately, Nike is, just as with BJ&B, pulling orders from this factory which, if trends continue, may soon find itself on the brink of closure.
Protestors will send a message to Nike that a true commitment to workers’ rights requires more than just a fancy marketing strategy, but requires, at the very least, a commitment to not shutting down factories in which strides are made towards respecting workers’ rights.
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