Nike Sweat Shops

We are proposing to Philip H. Knight and the board of directors of Nike. As concerned citizens, students, and consumers of the city of Los Angeles we feel the necessity of fairness in the labor force especially overseas. Nike has been identified as one of the many big corporations guilty of Labor abuse. Labor abuse is a growing factor overseas and it is only getting worse. A weak economy should not be an excuse for inhumane treatment of employees in sweatshops.

The unfair wages for living conditions combined with the physical abuse the employees undergo is an underlying factor for the unethical fallacies American corporations are viewed as today. As human rights advocates, we feel it is our responsibility to represent America the great and uncover the truth behind shady corporations and their working environments. Nike has been a role model to top clothing brands nationwide; this means ethical diversity plays a great role for future employers and the willingness to act responsibly for the people offering their services. We hope this proposal will shine light on the key issues and inspire you to make a difference. Just do it!

The purpose of this proposal is to convince you, the board of directors of Nike, to perform up to American Standard Labor Laws in your overseas factories. Sweatshop factory employees have been taken advantage of all over the world, particularly in Asia and Central America. Low wages, unpaid overtime and physical abuse, to name a few, of the many list of offenses c ommitted at these sweatshops.

Nike can correct these horrendous conditions and make the working environment not only acceptable but an enjoyable one as well. This proposal will assist by giving you options in which to correct factory standards. Examples of this would be abiding by American Labor Laws, pay minimum wage and, if applicable, compensate them for working overtime. In addition provide suitable working environments if applicable since many workers live on site of these facilities.

When these factories begin to perform ethically, Nike will immediately begin to benefit from increased positive consumer behavior. Also, with improved working environments and wages come increased worker productivity, and a decrease in worker compensation liability. In addition the reputation of Nike will improve in the eyes of the consumer and will create a chain reaction to other sporting apparel brands to become ethically sound corporations.

1.0 Introduction 1.1 Purpose

The purpose of this proposal is to offer you, Nike, ways to build up your company's reputation, by helping you meet United States labor laws, as it pertain to your factories.

1.2 Problems

1.2.1 Working Conditions

According to a special report by Australia’s Channel 7, your factory workers are made to work under poor conditions in factories. The factories have little to no air conditioning (Read). Dailymail.co.uk published an article talking about how factory workers were beat if they made mistakes or if they refused to work overtime. The special report that was done by Australia’s Channel 7 found that many of the factory workers were brought into Malaysia and Indonesian factories from other Asian countries and are forced to sign contracts in languages that they don't understand and pay a contracting fee, which is the equivalent of a years’ pay, thus putting the workers in debt to Nike when they sign the contracts. Workers are not provided a choice of whether or not they want to sign the contracts, because Nike takes their passports “making escape impossible” (Read).

1.2.2 Low Wages

Factory workers are being paid wages under the minimum wage requirements of the United States as well as the minimum wage requirements of Malaysia and Indonesia. Nike factory workers are also not being paid for working overtime. Workers of your factories make roughly around .30 cents a day, which is $8 below the minimum wage for an hour in the United States. Factory workers are paid under $6 a day, which makes it impossible for the workers to pay off their debts to Nike (Read).

1.2.3 Child Labor

Children under the age of 16 have been found working in Nike factories in Malaysia and Indonesia. The NewYorkTimes covered a speech where former CEO Phil Knight stated that, Nike would stop employing children under the age of 16, however, many under the age of 16 still works in those sweatshops (Cushman). The Malaysian Employment Act under section 2 of Children and Young Persons (Employment) allows “young people” of the age of 16 or older; to work in factories, but no one under the age of 16 can work in factories (Laws of Malaysia).

In the speech given by Phil Knight, which was covered by the NewYorkTimes, Phil Knight states that Nike will be applying American work laws overseas (Cushman). If Nike applies American labor laws overseas everyone between the age of 15-17 would need workers permits signed by their parents or guardian and by their schools, and no one under the age of 18 that is working in a Nike factory has signed permission by their school or parents (Wage and Hour Division).

Discussion 2.1 Working Conditions:

According to the International Labor Organization, hazardous child labor is defined by Article 3 section D of the ILO Convention concerning the prohibition and immediate action for the elimination of the worst forms of child labor, 1999 (No. 182) as:

(d) work which, by its nature or the circumstances in which it is carried out, is likely to harm the health, safety or morals of children.

The ILO describes hazardous child labor as “the largest category of the worst forms of child labor with an estimated 115 million children, aged 5-17, and working in dangerous conditions in sectors as diverse as agriculture, mining, construction, manufacturing, service industries, hotels, bars, restaurants, fast food establishments, and domestic service.” This has been proven by the child labor abuse reports to be an imperative issue in sweatshops such as Nike by activists all over the world (Hazardous Child Labor).

We tend to whine about the simplest things in our daily workday, things from a boss neglecting a pay-raise to, there is no coffee in the break room. Such issues do not have the benefit of occurring in third world countries like Indonesia, Thailand, Malaysia, among others working as third parties for the great athlete apparel shoe brand NIKE, countries where children as young as 12 to 14 years of age are put to work to feed their families in the harshest conditions and working environments. With economy being a separate issue in this proposal, we would like to emphasize the importance of a safe and healthy working environment.

As you may know, a safe working environment is crucial to the health and productivity of manufacturing goods, in this case foot wear. Currently in Indonesia children are being put behind sewing machines, in crowded facilities, with little to no protection. Serious safety issues include, but are not limited to:

* Injuries while on the job * Sanitation is overthrown to reduce spending costs * Working with harmful chemicals to build footwear * Management cuts the worker’s wages to pay for replacement workers * Workers live in filthy overcrowded rooms, located in high crime rate areas of Indonesia.

In the 1990s, activists protested this type labor violation. Nike has ignored steps to correct these accusations. This is a lack of responsibility coming from the largest athletic apparel brand in the world. Nike director Todd Mckean alleged that, “Since they didn’t own the factories they had no responsibility to correcting what was going on there.” AAA s a result, companies such as Timberland, Apple, and Adidas had followed in their footsteps in a promising strategy to boost revenue. ("Nike, Adidas Officials Discuss Sweatshop Issues").

This is a serious issue and one that can be resolved by taking the first step, to enforce labor laws and judicial practice in foreign policies. Possible solutions to the harsh working environments in sweatshops include:

* Installing a code of conduct enforced by federal law * Giving the workers a voice, have them decide and evaluate if they believe the standards being taken are sufficient or to their likings

This abuse does not have to continue, we have the power to change. Just as we are privileged to not be working in such conditions, we should not allow the very people who sacrifice themselves to live another day be the cause of future generations suffering while we reap the benefits.. 2.2 Low Wages

The United States Fair Labor Act defines the work day as an 8hr day with a pay rate equal or above the minimum wage, with the overtime rate being your wage, plus the equivalent of half of it. The Labor Act also states that an employee cannot work more than 14 hours a day. Nike factory workers work almost 14 hours a day and are only being paid about $45 a week. With accordance to the United States Fair Labor Act this is a clear violation, which would be one of the reasons why your factories would be considered sweatshops (Wage and Hour Division).

According to Webster's Dictionary a sweatshop is a factory where “employees work long hours at low wages and under unhealthy conditions.” An argument that could be presented on your behalf can be, “our factories are located overseas so we are not required to follow United States labor laws.” This argument might be valid, but you are an American company and should be held to American standards. Even if you do not want to abide by American labor laws, you should at least abide by the labor laws of that country.

The Malaysia Employment Act also defines the work day as an 8 hours shift with no overtime, unless your job is one with multiple shifts, and no more than 48 hours a week. The work week is limited to 6 days a week (Malaysia Employment Act 1995). In both Indonesia and Malaysia, the minimum wage was just raised to about $230 (RP 2,216,243, Malaysian currency) a month (Board Raises Minimum Wage) At $45 a week you are still not paying your employees the minimum wage of their country’s labor law requirements.

The following is an estimation showing how much your workers are making a month, day and per hour: A) $45 a week (Read) B) $45 a week C) $7.5 a day x $4 weeks ÷ 6 days ÷8 hours $180 a month $7.5 a day $0.94

** assuming that workers work every day of the month, with at least one day off a week and assuming that they work 8 hours a day **

A) This is $50 under the minimum, but this is not accurate because your workers do not work every day of the month because some get a day off every week, which means that they are being under paid by more than $50 dollars. C) This is of course not accurate because your workers work more than 8 hours a day without overtime.

The following is an estimate of roughly how much your workers should be earning a month, day and per hour: The minimum wages in both Indonesia and Malaysia is around $230 a month (Board Raises Minimum Wage)

A) $230 a month B) $57.7 a week C) $9.62 a day ÷ 4 weeks ÷6 days a week ÷8 hours $57.7 a week $9.62 a day $1.20 an hour

** Your workers should be making more money a month because they work over 8 hours a day and should be getting paid overtime. ** * This is not accurate because it was based on 30-day months, leaving out 31-day months and 28/29-day months. * A) Your workers are being under paid by $12.7 a week

B) Your workers are being under paid $1.12 a day C) Your workers are being under paid by $0.26 an hour

2.3 Child Labor:

For many years the issue of child labor has impacted many societies including the United States. Nike, being an American athletic apparel company, is one of the most well-known and respected. Your clothing and innovation particularly with shoes and sports equipment have changed the world of athletic apparel. Everywhere a person travels Nike ads can be seen promoting your products. However, as popular as your products are, the consumer is not aware of how their new pair of Nike’s was fabricated.

In 1996, there was a movement started by Kathy Lee Gifford’s line of clothing being sold at Wal-Mart, which began making consumers aware that these products are being made at the expense of many lives. It was discovered that the factory in Honduras producing these clothes had illegal and inhumane practices occurring within the manufacturer and their employees (Carty 24). This put the celebrity under scrutiny of the public eye, and activists began to expose those at fault as well as major companies of their wrongdoings in these overseas factories.

Nike came into the spotlight in 1996, when reporters discovered young children in Pakistan sewing together parts of a Nike soccer ball. These children would sew these parts together for the grand sum of .60 cents per hour (Carty 25).

We understand that attempts have been made to correct these wrongdoings, for example, the1.54 million dollars donated to factory workers in Honduras when they were laid off at one of your factories. This gave hope to many who had family members working there (Greenhouse). However, efforts to stop labor abuse have diminished, while the abuse increases. In Indonesia, the factory manufacturing Converse has reported factory workers stating they are being verbally and physically abused (Daily Mail Reporter).

According to a PBS’ documentary, factories known as Yeu Yeun and Wellco have been shut down or corrected in order to incorporate more ethical business practices and more importantly better the understanding of labor laws in these factories (Store Wars: When Wal-Mart Comes to Town).With the participation of activists, concerned citizens and most importantly you, the board of directors of Nike, we can all work together to reduce the number of illegal child labor and worker violations in many factories. There are many simple solutions that could not only benefit the workers, but also benefit the general public about NIKE and your business practices.

These are just some of many solutions that can be created to stop child labor abuse epidemic that your factories are facing today. We hope that this will inform and inspire you to improve Nike’s ethical conduct. We are confident that the decisions you make now will improve your marketing image and ethical value in the eyes of future generations to come.

3.0 Conclusion

3.1 Major concerns * Nike workers health/safety in overseas factories * The living conditions of said workers * Nike’s negligence to comply with labor laws pertaining to the issues of low wages, working conditions and child labor

3.2 Recommendations:

We suggest one way to stop the abuse of sweat shops is by taking a direct, hands on approach to what goes on in your sweat shops:

Some of these solutions include:

* Make every worker aware of Nike’s code of conduct (many facilities have reported workers not even knowing of the existence of a code of conduct) * Create a maximum amount of labor hours for children under the age of 18 * Create public audits for the general public

* Investing in a union made up of humanitarians and social workers. * Regulate mandatory wages, and penalization to enforce a non-violent working environment. * Public audits and verification processes for third party contractors directly involved in sweatshops * Create a jurisdiction to mandate foreign public policy in American corporations overseas 3.3 Benefits to a Solution:

A recent profiting incentive proposed by the Bureau of International Labor says: “The U.S. Department of Labor's Bureau of International Labor Affairs is seeking eligible applicants under a $2.2 million competitive grant solicitation to strengthen worker organizations in Haiti and Peru. ILAB intends to award $1.2 million to be used for Haiti and $1 million for Peru.” “Eligible applicants can compete for the full amount of the grant for both countries or a partial amount for either country.

The overarching objectives of the grants are to improve the capacity of worker organizations in Haiti and Peru to better protect the rights of vulnerable workers, and to engage in effective advocacy and dialogue. Under the solicitation, funding will be awarded to one or more qualifying organizations that propose innovative ways and sound strategies to provide these services in partnership with local organizations and institutions.” (News and Noteworthy).

Works Cited

Cushman, John H. Jr. “International Business; Nike Pledges to End Child Labor and Apply U.S. Rules Abroad”. nytimes.com. The New York Times Company. May 13, 1998. Website. 11/18/12.

Read, Richard. “Nike Looks Into Workers Rights Breaches”. Oregonlive.com. The Oregonian. August 2, 2008. Website. 11/15/12.

“Wage and Hour Division (WHD)”. Dol.gov. United States Department of Labor. 2009. Website. 11/17/12

“ Laws of Malaysia Act 350: Children and Young Persons (Employment) Act 1966”. agc.gov.my. The Commissioner of Law Revision, Malaysia. January 1, 2006. Website. 11/18/12.

“Malaysia Employment Act 1955”. ilo.org. International Labour Organization Natlex Database. June 1,1957. Website. 11/17/12.

* “Board Raises Minimum Wage by 44 Percent”. thejakartapost.com. Bina Media Tenggara. 16 November 2012. Website. 11/16/12

Beach, Emily. "Facts About Nike Sweatshops." EHow. Demand Media. 01 Oct. 2009. Web 07 Nov. 2012 <http://www.ehow.com/about_5485125_nike-sweatshops.html>.

Bender, Daniel E. Sweated works, weak bodies: anti-sweatshop campaigns and languages of labor. New Brunswick, N.J.: Rutgers University Press. 2005. Internet Resource.

Greenhouse, Steven. "Pressured, Nike to Help Workers In Honduras." The New York Times. The New York Times, 26 July 2010. Web. 06 Nov. 2012. <http://www.nytimes.com/2010/07/27/business/global/27nike.html>.

Department of Labor, and Child Labor. "U.S. Department of Labor - Wage and Hour Division (WHD) - Child Labor." Web. 07 Nov. 2012

Reporter, Daily Mail. "Nike Workers 'Kicked, Slapped and Verbally Abused' at Factories Making Converse." Mail Online. Daily Mail, 13 July 2011. Web. 06 Nov. 2012.

Sluiter, Liesbeth. Clean Clothes: A Global Movement to End Sweatshops. London: Pluto Press, 2009. Print.

Store Wars: When Wal-Mart Comes to Town. Dir. Micha Peled. Perf. Sam Walton. Teddy Bear Films, 2002. Videocassette.

“Students against sweatshops and corporate social responsibility." Wired and mobilizing: Social movement, new technology, and electoral politics. New York: Routeledge, 2011. 20-40.

"Hazardous Child Labour." Hazardous Child Labour. N.p., 2012. Web. 20 Nov. 2012.

Sage, George H. (1999). "Justice Do It! The Nike Transnational Advocacy Network: Organization, Collective Actions, and Outcomes". Sociology of Sport Journal 16: 206-235.

"New and Noteworthy." ILAB. N.p., n.d. Web. 27 Nov. 2012.

"Nike Sweatshops." Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, 23 Nov. 2012. Web. 25 Nov. 2012. Cited from "Nike, Adidas Officials Discuss Sweatshop Issues". 3 December 2001. Retrieved 26 March 2011. Allbusiness.com, However page is no longer available.

Board Raises Minimum Wage by 44 Percent”. thejakartapost.com. Bina Media Tenggara. 16 November 2012. Website.

Content/Development: 40 Points| Points Earned| Comments| Subject Matter: * Proposal is comprehensive, coherent, and cohesive * Major points supported by specific details & examples * Uses at least six reliable and timely sources, two each from the primary, secondary, and scholarly categories * Research serves as support of proposal’s points, not as replacement of student-generated logic * Proposal displays rhetorical awareness with a clear sense of purpose, audience, and credibility * The problem under discussion is accurately described and considered. * The solution proposed is practical, logical, ethical, and concrete| | | Organization: 40 Points| Points Earned| Comments|

* Proposal is properly formatted, containing title page, cover letter, table of contents, abstract, introduction, discussion, conclusion, and works cited * If needed, list of illustrations and glossary are accurately formatted and referenced * Sources are properly introduced and cited, both in text and in Works Cited| | | Style/Mechanics: 20 Points| Points Earned| Comments|

* Proposal is at least 10 pages * Citations/Works Cited page follow appropriate citation guidelines * Rules of grammar, usage, punctuation are followed * Spelling is correct * Sentences are complete, clear, concise, and elegant * Sentences display consistently strong, varied structure * Transitions between sentences/paragraphs/sections help maintain the flow of thought * Words used are precise and unambiguous * Tone is appropriate to audience, purpose and message.| | | Total Points: | /100