Magazine article The Nation

Just Do It, Nike

Magazine article The Nation

Just Do It, Nike

Article excerpt

The Nike billboard near Crenshaw High School in inner-city Los Angeles boldly proclaims, To Hell With Moral Victories. This is one instance in which Nike advertising may be more truthful than the company intends. According to Forbes, Philip Knight, the co-founder and current C.E.O. of Nike, is now one of the wealthiest people in America -- worth $5.4 billion. Interestingly, however, while this highly profitable, U.S.-based multinational employs hundreds of thousands of people around the world to manufacture sneakers, none of them live in the United States. With more than a 40 percent share of the U S. market for sports-related goods, Nike does not have a single sneaker factory in this country. Like so many other companies, Nike has abandoned US. workers and their families to produce goods in low-wage, developing countries.

In fact, Nike seems especially fond of doing business in undemocratic countries like China and Indonesia, where the military can be relied upon to crack heads if workers get out of line. Human rights investigators say Chinese workers as young as 13 produce Nike products in conditions akin to forced labor camps, where many have been mistreated, beaten, compelled to work overtime and paid wages below those required by the Chinese minimum-wage law. In addition, an inspection report prepared for Nike by the accounting firm Ernst & Young, recently given to the press by a disgruntled employee, chronicled conditions in Vietnam, where young women toil sixty-five-hour weeks for $10, in air so bad that 78 percent of the employees have respiratory problems. …

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