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Just Do It... or forever hold your peace!

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This once noble goddess


now a tool of exploitation
"When we go to battle and win, we say Nike," No, this is not a quote from Michael Jordan. This is what a soldier in ancient Greece might have said before battle. The soldier's reference would be to Nike, the winged goddess of Victory. She symbolizes courage and success. Do you see the "double entendre" a little French for ya (the double meaning).

She was the ultimate, the Victorious. Isn't that what Michael Jordan, Andre Agassi and all the A-list sports figures symbolize? And isn't it a coincidence that they all endorse NIKE, the shoe company we all know and... well, we all know. Not only do they endorse the company, they "fly" away with huge profits from the shoes they endorse. Funny that NIKE's mission statement is "to be the number one sports and fitness company in the world." Funny you say? Why is this so funny? Well, to be the best of the best someone has to pay the price, right? And you might not like your favorite sneakers so much once you hear the price NIKE pays to be number one!

Let's take a little field trip shall we? Off to Indonesia we go to find out more about the people who stitch and sew that "swoosh" onto your favorite shoes. Now, NIKE does not own the factories where the shoes are made. They contract to various factory owners. NIKE says its job is to market the shoes, not to make them. But, surely they have a hand in the design, the materials and the price they will pay for the shoes to be made? To get this all done, the workers face a 60 hour work week with few breaks, endure verbal and physical abuse from those higher up, and for all this glory they get paid a whoppin' $30 a month. Now, there are standards for "living wages," around the world. What are they you might ask? Well, a living wage is one that covers the needs of a family, not just one worker. An Indonesian study says that $37.50 a month is a living wage for one person. Imagine that an extra $7 is enough for a living wage. Now, NIKE pulled in $8.7 billion in revenue in 1998, yet they can't pay their workers a little more? Hmmm... somehow these numbers are just not adding up.

NIKE sure isn't "playing by the rules!" After much media pressure NIKE "got in the game", so to speak. In May of 1998 NIKE announced it would allow independent monitoring of its factories. However, the firms they hired to monitor the factories are for-profit accounting firms who just might be looking out for NIKE's best interests and NOT the workers. Another initiative was formed in April of 1999 bringing together several businesses, public and non-profit organizations that involve local NGO's (non-governmental organizations) to survey workplace conditions and issues. However, this initiative is too new to have yielded benefits. So, what to do? It sounds like NIKE is ready to play ball and clean up their act, but until then there is still much work to be done. We should therefore keep the pressure on. So, let's get NIKE to get back to it's roots and live up to it's name!

Here's how you can help:

  1. Don't buy NIKE products
  2. Send a letter to NIKE CEO Phil Knight: Tell him you are unhappy with their labor practices.
  3. Join a NIKE protest
  4. Send letters to your Senators urging them for their help

Here are some great resources to get you started:

Just do it!!

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