Just Pay It! Campaign Kickoff

Nike Just Pay It Logo

Nike Just Pay It Logo

Continuing momentum from past Russell Athletic victory, students kick off “Just Pay It” campaign for Nike’s recent code of conduct violations.

Today students from the Cornell chapter of the United Students Against Sweatshops met with university administration at 3:00 PM to discuss recourse for licensee violations of university procurement policy violations.  The students presented certificates of excellence to Vice President of Communications, Mike Powers, and Purchasing Director of the Cornell Store, Gary Swisher, for their responses to code of conduct violations by Russell Athletics.  The students also urged the administration to address Nike’s disregard of university clothing codes of conduct and demanded immediate condemnation of Nike’s actions.

Cornell endorsed the Designated Suppliers Program (DSP) in 2006.  The DSP is a university procurement policy adopted by universities throughout the US, Canada, and the UK, that sets standards for labor practices for all licensees of university logos.  “The DSP creates a race to the top that rewards factories which pay living wages and have good labor practices with apparel orders,” said Alex Bores, President of Cornell Students Against Sweatshops.  The DSP factory conditions are audited by the Workers Rights Consortium (WRC), an independent monitoring agency free from company interference.

In January 2009, Nike subcontractor Haddad Group closed two factories (Hugger de Honduras and Vision Tex) that predominately produced goods for Nike, including university apparel.  Claiming economic reasons, Nike stopped sourcing from the unionized factories.  Both Nike and Haddad refused to pay the workers $2.5 million of legally mandated severance compensation.  After liquidation of the factories, the workers are still owed approximately $2.1 million.

Cornell’s code of conduct requires all licensees to hold their sub-contractors to the same standards as are expected of them.  In communication between the WRC, Nike has denied responsibility for paying the severance and continues to do so.  “Nike is trying to skirt its obligations by claiming there are legal loopholes that excuse their behavior.  But both legally and morally, they are required to pay their workers,” said Casey Sweeney, President of Cornell Organization for Labor Action.  The Cornell Students Against Sweatshops demanded Nike pays the legally mandated severance pay rightfully owed these workers. They will be conducting university wide education sessions on these issues in the upcoming weeks.

About the Author

Alex Bores is a sophomore in the School of Industrial and Labor Relations at Cornell University. He was born and raised in New York City by two union members. Alex does labor research with Professor Kate Bronfenbrenner. Alex is the treasurer of the Cornell Roosevelt Institute, Treasurer of Conflict-Free Cornell, Vice President for Community Outreach of Half in Ten, Vice President of the Cornell Forensics Society and President of Cornell Students Against Sweatshops.