Nike Sweatshops Behind the Swoosh

Nike Sweatshops Behind the Swoosh

At like the age of 18 I was just on the track Go to a good college, get a decent degree, do good, you’re going to get an entry level job down on Wall Street you’re going work real hard, you’re going to be a broker you’re going to make tons of money you gonna be retired by you know very young age. You’re gonna have a house on the beach in New Jersey, have a couple Mercedes a trophy wife and that will be the end of the game. I’m done. Multi-millionaire, that’s it. I was playing professionally for the New Jersey Imperials I was playing the best soccer of my life. go, go go! I get offered this coaching job, by one of my teammates
to go coach at Saint John’s University. the NCAA division 1 national champions,
they are the best team in the country. I was having a blast. I was loving
coaching I was lovin’ playing. I’m living in New York. I’m also
studying stuff that I really enjoy and digging into like studying theology. For the first time in my life in a formal
way. I get online I start doing searches
about Nike sweatshops and labor practices and what I found was if you wanted to pick a company that
completely violates everything the Catholic social teaching
is about, Nike would be a perfect case study. And the same time doing this research, Saint John’s University Athletic Department starts to negotiate a 3.5 million dollar endorsement deal with Nike, that will require me as
a coach to wear and promote the products. Saint John’s University, the largest
Catholic institution in the country coupling itself with the largest
sportswear company in the world and I said how can we as such a a public
symbol of Catholicism, do something that runs completely
counter to our mission? like we are saying to the world then look you should care about the poor and we
should fight against injustice and we should seek out the causes of poverty. Well unless you are gettin’ some really good athletic equipment, and 3.5 million dollars along with it. I mean you want to talk about just hypocrisy manifested in the real world like this
was it. And you have the story of Saint John. Jim Keady has caused a massive pile up. He is clearly an idealist. I didn’t go to Saint John’s University to work for Nike. I went there to coach and to study theology. Keady, a devout Catholic, protested. How does he reach the point where he thinks it’s immoral? Because he’s coming at
it from a background of faith and religion, this isn’t about just money or power or job or anything. Think
think about this how many of us on a job that we really
want are prepared to get a memo from the boss
saying stop doing this or you’re out and you keep doing it. I was given an ultimatum by my head coach, Wear nike and drop this issue or resign. End of story. So in June of 1998, I was
constructively fired. People were telling me, you don’t know what you’re talking about, you know those are great jobs and you can live like a king or
queen those wages on those people are really happy to have those jobs. I wanna go find out. Doesn’t everybody just wanna know the
truth? So I wanted to know the truth first hand I wanted to see it, I wanted to smell it, I wanted to hold it in my hand. I knew I was gonna need other people Leslie was a natural match. Jim and I went to college together. We came together
ultimately because we share an interest in labor rights issues. I eventually met back up with her a few
years after school through an e-mail about sweatshops. I really wanted to be working with
these issues. And I wrote to my buddy and said who is this woman that’s writing you about this stuff, and he said she’s nuts like you. You know you should e-mail her. She was actually enroute to go work with Mother Teressa’s sisters in India. And I sent her off this email, hey I got this great
idea, let’s go storm on Nike’s wages in Indonesia. And so he’s like, I really need to go. And she wrote me back sounds great let’s go. We plopped down in Tangerang, Indonesia this industrial suburb outside the capital of Jakarta. With the plans that for the next month
we were going to live as Nike factory workers live, which meant that we were gonna go live in a
worker slum outside of the capital. And we were gonna live on the workers
wages a $1.25 a day for the next month trying come, maybe to a
better understanding of what it’s like for Nike factory
workers to make this kind of money and live
under these conditions. We lived in a nine by nine cement box It was over 100 degrees. It was 100% percent humidity, a small window certainly no air conditioning. No furniture, you slept on a very thin mat on an uneven cement floor covered in
shelf paper. The streets outside of your home are lined by open sewers and with that means, like in the rainy
season, you have all that feces just flowed up into the streets and into your
house. And every time that you go to the bathroom
it comes back out into the sewer for everybody else to see and smell. You would have football size rats that would stampede over the ceiling at night and come up through the toilet and look for
stuff to eat in the house. Or the fist sized cock roaches that
would crawl over you at night. (Speaking in Indonesian Language, Jim introducing himself) Just like anyone around the world you can’t just drop into someone’s life and be like: Hi, we’re here, we want to live in your
life and tell us how much it sucks. Uh, you had to build bonds of trust Jim Nice to meet you. They treated us very politely and it wasn’t until they saw that we were committed in the capacity of living on the wages that
they’re forced to live on in the conditions that they are living in,
that they felt that they could start to begin to trust us. You get to know them and you hold their children and you eat with them, you share stories with them, they become part of your family. We would go to different workers’ homes you got like four women sleeping in like in
eight by eight cement box, like and all their possessions are in there. Like everything in this small area. The workers would have to share a
bathroom with five to ten other families. The workers would have to
share a living uh, quarters actually like, a row of shacks with corrugated tin rooves, all those families would share a laundry corner and a kitchen facility and they would all share
the same well to take the water out of $1.25 a day after you’ve paid for your rent, water, electricity, any
major transportation costs you’re gonna be left on average with roughly 7,000 rupiah per day. What the hell does that mean? That’s gonna buy you two simple meals of
rice and vegetables. A bag of peanuts, a bottle iced tea, and some dish detergent. And that’s all you can get, and that’s your reward? Without a doubt we found it out in the
first week that we were there there’s no way that you can live on a
$1.25 a day and maintain your human dignity. It’s just not possible. I lost 25 pounds living on Nike’s wages in Indonesia. Um, I spent the month painfully hungry, tired and like near the point of exhaustion most days. I just felt my energy storage was just depleted. And I just started going downhill fast
and I just started getting sick every day And, and she got very sick
one day, she had a fever of like 104 and she’s gotta deal with, well I have a fever 104, I can buy aspirin and like a little drink box to get some Vitamin C, but if I
buy those two things, I don’t need for the rest of the day. I don’t know what this is gonna do because, we are gonna go home, we’re gonna say like this is not enough money and no one is gonna do a damn thing different. How do you feel? Are you human being? how do you feel? Like you’re, you’re work? your gifts, you know, and for them and for the workers I’ve talked to the last couple of days, a number of them have said the only thing we have is our physical labor because I just bought the smallest thing of shaving cream and one razor that I might be able to use two or three times that uh, I have to cut out three meals this week. I don’t know how these people do it. They will be working overtime hours just
to get by. Because they can’t possibly get by on
the wage that they are paid without work incredible amounts of overtime. And when you’re working up to 15 hours a
day, six to seven days a week you know your your 2-year-old child just
doesn’t see you. You know they don’t get see their, their
children. The kids can’t even go to school. How you gonna break a cycle of poverty
and have real economic development if you have a whole lost generation of
children that aren’t even educated? I’m walking down this dirt path into this village, and I see this massive pile of scrap shoe rubber
that I later learned came from one of Nike’s factories and piles like that get dumped there all
the time and the end result of these piles is that they get burned in that village in the big open space
where kids play and the burning fumes, I learned from
the company that designs Nike shoe rubber, will give off toxins and carcinogens. Kids are paying the price. And they’re the ones who chest infections and they’re the ones that are gonna develop
cancer When we were in Indonesia, we made attempts to get into a Nike factory because Nike
claims on their website we have nothing to hide. I’m Mike. Hi Mike. How you doing? Good. We went over to Nike’s corporate offices and Nike denied us that. We are unable to accommodate their request. So long. See ya. Nike headquarters in Beaverton, Oregon
had faxed an info sheet out to all the factories to be placed on the wall for
all workers see that read: If you are approached by Jim
Keady, Leslie Pretsua, Mike Perentosi, do not speak to them.
They are only speak to management there will be severe consequences if you’re found talking to them and they know from their management, how they’re
supposed to act and if they don’t they’re some severe ramifications anywhere from significant harassment to to death and I mean in that in a very
literal sense. Certainly management on the factory didn’t want us to be there and it was kinda
frightening because we several times tried to get in to the factory. We weren’t out of the van for more than
three minutes and there was security like surrounding
us and then the factory managers came out. What’s going on? People are outside a Nike shoe factory right now, securities, kinda surrounding us They were like you know, what are you doing here? Why are you here? It was frightening you know, because, who knows Security guy here, tracking us down. From that moment, we were tailed by factory security, the prey-man or the local mafia. The local mafia certainly works in conjunction
with these factory bosses. The factor bosses are, some of them, are just brutal ruthless, hired muscle to keep workers in
line. We met with one worker, Julianto, he told us because he was union
organized, and he was trying to form an independent union. He was threatened at gunpoint. He had his house
ransacked. He was given death threats and he had to
flee back to his home village. Because you know in fear of his life. This is literally a life-and-death issue
and this happens at all the factories. You know, every worker that we talk to there’s this, struggled with this fear. This culture of fear that just
permeates the air that, yeah they want to tell you the
truth, and try and fight for their rights but they also like want the kids to have
a father or mother. They’re dealing everyday with the threat of losing their lives for doing this kind of work. I mean they show tremendous courage in
light of that. We were able to meet with a women by the name of Adid Asari, who had been organizing Nike and Reebok factory
workers at the age of 23 and was illegally jailed and put in prison and
tortured. In 8th of July 1990 I was arrested by the army, the local army in East Java, they kick me and they use their firsts and their sticks and their boots to hurt me and to torture me in front of the workers the show them an example. I think the majority of workers are saying, ‘Look we don’t want you to pull out the jobs, like we want to work. We like to work you know we want to
make the shoes. We were proud of what we do But, uh, we don’t want to be exploited. Like, why can’t you just let us meet our basic needs. We are talking about food, clothing,
housing, health care, education being able to take care of your kids and some modest savings. That’s not a tall order. Excuse me, do you guys know where the Nike campus is? Yeah You hang a right on Walker, and you’ll see in on your southwest corner. Ok, thanks. Ok so we are on Nike’s campus right now, its’ a little bit different than the factories in Indonesia. Just a tiny bit. Hi, how are you Hi, It’s nice to meet you finally. Yeah Phil Knight the CEO of nike or Michael Jordan or Tiger Woods or Mia Hamn or any of the other people that are really making a lot of money because of the
way that nike does things should care about these workers because
they’re human beings when I see people like Tiger Woods get 100 million
dollars just wearing the clothes we’re saying as
a society like this one individual because they
play golf well is worth more than 700,000 people Here’s what he makes we had made up these wage charts and have had them looked down at it and then look up and say Tiger Woods makes enough in a second to buy me a house. Why? I work hard for the company too and you know what do you say to them well hey that’s the system deal with it
you know suck it up its capitalism survival of the
fittest, guess you’re not the fittest nike is in Indonesia for one reason, cheap labor its an ideology of maximizing profit at all cost to humanity and nature and its all, its this entire like a vicious cycle that starts with the heads of the corporations that want to make a great return with shareholder’s investment some people say, well hey that’s the way things are thats the
American way, its capitalism thats the American way no the American way is democracy that’s what our country was founded on a belief that all people are equal
that there should be a respect for democracy for human rights, and for the protection of human life thats what we’re about as Americans we spent the last year and a
half traveling around the country visiting over a hundred schools high
schools and universities 15,000 students So how are you feeling about the turn out? I’m feeling pretty good about the turn out. What are you thinking about the turn out here? Its great, this is the best possible turn out. And we try as best we
can introduce them to these human beings and say as students as high school athletes as college athletes
as consumers, you’ve got tremendous power and because we can’t fly them over
Indonesia we bring Indonesia to them and if we can give them that spark, even if it’s
one or two on that day that’s going to multiply and
eventually we’ll reach this critical mass and we’ll
have a great harvest and the harvest will be truth and justice and fairness for all people something is wrong here and we can fix it
it’s a necessity the tipping point is now at this point in our
history we need a story like this to be told

local_offerevent_note January 15, 2020

account_box Branden Gomez


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