Protestors in Portland and around the globe held a day of action against Nike for what they say are unmonitored human rights abuses occurring at Nike production factories abroad.
About 20 people organized outside of the Nike store on Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard in Northeast Portland demanding Nike allow the Workers’ Rights Consortium, a student-backed labor rights monitoring group, to conduct independent monitoring of labor conditions at Nike factories abroad.
“They’re the biggest and the baddest company in the activewear game,” said Oregon State University student Eloise Erickson. Erickson also leads OSU’s local chapter of United Students Against Sweatshops.
“Particularly for universities, we’re targeting Nike because so much of our university apparel is made in those factories.”
As of Thursday, Oregon State University officially affiliated with the Workers’ Rights Consortium, an independent labor rights monitoring organization. The WRC is currently affiliated with about 200 other universities.
In 2000, Nike Chairman Phil Knight announced he was pulling plans to donate $30 million to the University of Oregon, his alma mater, for affiliating with the WRC.
“We believe in the value of independent monitoring,” said a Nike spokesperson in a statement. “We respect the Worker Rights Consortium’s (WRC) commitment to workers’ rights while recognizing that the WRC was co-created by United Students Against Sweatshops, a campaigning organization that does not represent the multi-stakeholder approach that we believe provides valuable, long-lasting change.”
The spokesperson also said Nike enforces strict compliance at factories.
Protestors outside of the Portland store chanted “Nike, Nike shame on you, garment workers need rights too!” Similar rallies were held at Nike store locations in Seattle, Boston, New York City, San Francisco, Washington, D.C. and even El Salvador.
Nike’s world headquarters are located in Beaverton.