Cornell Students Protest Nike's Treatment of Honduran Workers
[b] "Just Pay it" [/b]
"Just Pay it"
That’s the slogan that Cornell University students have punned as they try to force Nike to pay back-wages to a group of workers in Honduras. Student groups Cornell Organization for Labor Action and Cornell Students against Sweatshops say that Nike owes approximately 2.2 million dollars in back wages to about 17-hundred workers that were put out of work by shuttered factories. While Nike does not own the factories, the groups say that Nike is responsible for the fair treatment of its affiliate’s workers.
To get Nike to respond, students are pushing Cornell University to sever all business ties with Nike. COLA and Students against sweatshops say that the treatment of Honduran workers has lead to a violation of the university’s code of conduct and thus cannot do business with Cornell.
[b]A Resolution and A Protest [/b]
Students today rallied at Ho Plaza to raise awareness and urge the university to sever ties with Nike until it adheres to Cornell’s code of conduct and pays its workers fairly. Fil Eden, a Cornell Senior, told WVBR the rally went very well and that students from numerous groups made appearances
“Companies need to be held accountable for workers that produce their clothes,” Eden said.
Eden also added that student groups have also sponsored and passed resolutions in Cornell’s Student Assembly and University Assembly urging the university to cut ties with Nike.
Eden is cautiously optimistic about Cornell breaking off its Nike contracts.
“The University has a responsibility to do so, they can and should,” Eden told WVBR. “Whether or not they will is another question.”
[b]Nike Responds [/b]
Nike told WVBR that “Nike is absolutely concerned for the workers in Honduras and we are deeply disappointed that the two failed sub-contract factories did not pay the workers their full severance pay. However, it remains Nike’s position that factories which directly employ workers are responsible for ensuring that their employees receive their correct entitlements and as such Nike will not be paying severance to workers that were employed by Hugger and Vision Tex.”
Nike went further to say that it paid both companies off fully before their closure and is offering vocational job fairs for displaced workers.
The company also said it was updating its collegiate factory policies to increase transparency and allow for more full disclosure. Nike noted that, with the exception of one occasion, the factories in question did not produce college apparel.