Hard to believe, true, but it's an ugly fact: The makers of Nike tennish shoes rake in massive profits, while their Vietnam employees are paid fifteen cents an hour! (Survey: accounting firm Ernist and Young.) That means their employees in Vietnam would need to work over seven hundred hours to buy a pair of shoes they themselves manufacture. Nike is worth (end of 1997) US$5,300,000,000 (that's five-point-three BILLION USA dollars).

According to US Representatives Marcy Kaptur (Ohio) and Bernie Sanders (Vermont), the air in the Nike Vietnam sweatshops is so foul, nearly 80 per cent of the employees have respiratory problems.

Buying Nike products is immoral and unethical.

Source: The Humanist March / April 1998

"Sweatshops" Ended
The Clinton administration and major clothing producers reached agreement on what constitutes a "sweatshop." Clothiers like Nike and Reebok will be able to apply a "No Sweatshop" label to their clothes by not hiring children or pushing workers past 60 hours of work per week or paying below minimum wages. Thus, workers making 40 cents an hour in Haiti, China, or Indonesia will no longer be working in "sweatshops." An important advance. Meanwhile, the Eddie Bauer Co. was honored by the U.S. Department of Labor. The trendy sportswear chain made the governmentís Trendsetter List of corporations battling sweatshop conditions despite the fact that much of itís clothing is produced by prison labor, a minor fact the Labor Department and the media seem to have overlooked; the same prison labor our State Department criticizes China for using. Prisoners in Washington state learn the garment trade through the efforts of Redwood Outdoors, Inc., a major supplier to Eddie Bauer, and earn between $1.80 and $2.80 an hour. Sounds like "trendsetting" at its best. -- (NYT 4/16, Seattle P-I 4/1, Counterpunch 3/15/96)

Superior Wages Await You
Nike was burned once again when an internal report on working conditions by accounting firm Ernst and Young was leaked to the press. The report describes a factory near Ho Chi Minh City where employees were working an average of 65 hours a week to earn an entire $10. Besides great wages, Ernst and Young also looked at the quality of the work environment and discovered the factory exceeded local standards for carcinogens by a mere 177 times. But lest you begin worrying, it should be known that Nike has an "action plan" to deal with the situation. They also have reassuring words spoken by PR representative Vada Manager. "There's a growing body of documentation," he says, "that indicates that Nike workers earn superior wages and manufacture products under superior conditions." Mr. Manager would not say where they were growing their documents, or which fertilizer they were using. (NYT 11/8)

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