CSAS Protests at Sports Events

John Protesting

John Protesting

As part of its newly established “Just Pay It” campaign, members of Cornell Students Against Sweatshops spread awareness against Nike’s recent code of conduct violations at Friday’s men’s basketball game and men’s hockey game, and announce a teach in for March 10.

Cornell Students Against Sweatshops had five members handing out quartercards in front of Friday’s sports events.  Three members wore a poster inside the arena and continued to pass out quartercards at half-time. The students were protesting Nike’s violations of Cornell’s codes of conduct.  CSAS hopes not just to send out a message to the Cornell community, but also provide them with an opportunity to join CSAS’s efforts against Nike.

“Our sports teams has been doing incredibly well this year, but it is a shame that every time a Cornellian is featured in a highlight reel, the Nike ‘swoosh’ gets prominently displayed,” said Alex Bores ’13, president of CSAS.

The quartercards will not only outline the basic facts of the campaign, but will also invite interested individuals to take part in a teach-in scheduled for March 10.

“The teach-in will provide a unique opportunity for students to find out more about our campaign,” said CSAS member Bill Peterson ’10.  “I wish we could fit all of Nike’s violations onto a quartercard, but unfortunately they have violated many workers’ rights.”

ILR professors Lance Compa and Sarosh Kuruvilla will be hosting the session with CSAS members.

“We have heard so many positive responses to our campaign since our first action on Tuesday,” said Casey Sweeney ’13, president of Cornell Organization for Labor Action.  “We want to make sure everyone hears about Nike’s gross violations of our codes of conduct.”

Nike, the prominent sponsor of the Cornell athletics program, has proven to be oblivious to basic moral obligations.

In 2006, Cornell endorsed the Designated Suppliers Program (DSP). 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 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. Cornell Students Against Sweatshops demand that Nike pays the legally mandated severance pay rightfully owed these workers.

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.