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July 2010, Week 4

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Portside Labor <[log in to unmask]>
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Portside Labor <[log in to unmask]>
Date:
Mon, 26 Jul 2010 22:39:20 -0400
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VICTORY! Nike "Just Pays It"; Students and Garment
Workers Beat Sportswear Giant!
By Jack Mahoney
United Students Against Sweatshops
July 26, 2010

http://justpayit.usas.org/2010/07/26/nike-just-pays-it/

Minutes ago, the CGT union in Honduras announced that
it reached an agreement with Nike on behalf of the
1,800 former workers who sewed Nike college apparel at
the factories Hugger de Honduras and Vision Tex.  One
year and six months after the factories closed and
failed to pay $2.5 million in severance to the workers,
and after a USAS campaign severed Nike contracts with
universities for the first time ever, workers and USAS
forced Nike to agree to everything they had been
demanding.

According to the joint announcement from the CGT and
Nike, Nike will pay $1.5 million in a cash settlement
plus a year of health insurance, and will give priority
hiring and training to the 1,800 affected workers.
This is a total victory for USAS student activists
across the continent and for the courageous garment
workers who kept the heat on Nike on the ground in
Honduras.

This is a watershed moment for USAS and the anti-
sweatshop movement.  Ever since the 1990s, when Nike
led the race to the bottom that produced shocking
sweatshop headlines, the sportswear giant has refused
to acknowledge responsibility for worker abuses at its
subcontracted supplier factories where workers actually
cut and sew Nike products.

Today that era is over.  Nike's full payment of the
severance owed to workers at these contracted supplier
factories sets an unmistakable precedent:  Apparel
corporations will be held accountable for workers'
rights in their supply chain.  No more excuses.

Just months ago Nike dishonestly asserted, "no
collegiate licensed product was made in either Vision
Tex or Hugger," and stubbornly swore, "Nike will not be
paying severance to workers that were employed by
Hugger and Vision Tex."  Surprisingly, Nike has left
those statements on its website here (but just in case
they get embarrassed and remove that page, we'll
archive it here,
http://justpayit.usas.org/files/2010/07/20100726_nike_says_we_will_not_pay_i.jpg).

Nike only became more honest and finally came to this
agreement after major economic pressure levied by
students campaigning to end their universities'
lucrative contracts with Nike.  Students at the
University of Wisconsin made their school the first
ever to terminate a contract with Nike over worker
rights violations, and Cornell University students
fought on into the summer months to finally get a
decision to end their school's contract with Nike as
well.

Today's victory is the first major USAS victory over
Nike.  In 2001, USAS fought in solidarity with the
workers of Kukdong, a Nike supplier in Mexico, and the
campaign won recognition for the first independent
union in the maquila industry in Mexico.

The Worker Rights Consortium - the only independent
organization monitoring factories producing college
apparel - played a major role investigating Nike's
violations, producing several comprehensive reports for
their affiliate universities.  Students used the
reports to illustrate how Nike had violated
universities' codes of conducts and to compel
universities to take action and cut contracts with
Nike.

Noticeably absent from the field in this sweatshop
skirmish was the Fair Labor Association, a notoriously
weak-kneed factory monitoring organization created by
Nike and other brands with the Clinton administration.
While the FLA's persistent attempts to exonerate
apparel companies for wrongdoing has significantly
delayed and disrupted workers getting justice in past
cases, their absence and refusal to hear out complaints
brought by workers led to a speedy and fair resolution.

The most recent Nike victory also comes within a year
of the USAS victory with Honduran unionists who work
for Fruit of the Loom, the largest private employer in
Honduras.  USAS activists orchestrated the largest
collegiate boycott of a single company in history, with
over 100 universities cutting ties to Fruit's Russell
Athletic.  Fruit entered into a truly historic
agreement with workers' union.  With these back-to-back
victories, student-labor activism is reaching new
heights.

Noticeably absent from the field in this sweatshop
skirmish was the Fair Labor Association, a notoriously
weak-kneed factory monitoring organization created by
Nike and other brands with the Clinton administration.
While the FLA's persistent attempts to exonerate
apparel companies for wrongdoing has significantly
delayed and disrupted workers getting justice in past
cases, their absence and refusal to hear out complaints
brought by workers led to a speedy and fair
resolution.

Ready to get more involved?  Contact [log in to unmask]
today!

ยป See USAS press release on the Just Pay It campaign
victory at
http://justpayit.usas.org/files/2010/07/20100726_release_victory.pdf

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