Nike drops the ball - the Andrew Young Report.

In response to many of these allegations, Nike touts the conclusions of the Andrew Young report (Goodworks International), which concluded that while some problems do exist, Nike’s treatment of the workers is generally fair. However, the exact conclusions of the report were as follows:

  • Nike should implement the provisions of the Apparel Industry Partnership.
  • Nike should explain and enforce their Code of Conduct.
  • Nike should promote the development of "worker representatives."
  • Nike should expand is dialogue with the human rights community and labor groups within the countries where they produce goods.
  • Nike should consider "external monitoring."

The study itself is severely flawed and looks like a PR document - more pictures than words ( As Bob Herbert, from the New York Times, stated, "The kindest thing that can be said at this point is that Mr. Young was naive."

1) NGO Consultants. The reports lists 34 Non-Governmental Organizations (NGO) that Goodworks consulted during its investigation. This list of experts in labor and human rights issues gives superficial credibility to the report, yet in most cases there was little or no contact with the NGOs. Maniza Naqvi, child labor expert at the World Bank, was never contacted. Conrad McKerron, former Director of Social Research for Progressive Asset Mgmt. Inc. received a 10 minute call. Thuyen Nguyen, founder of Vietnam Labor Watch, got a brief call with a promised follow-up that never occurred. Media Benjamin, Director of Global Exchange, received a 5 minute call and Jeff Ballinger, Press for Change, spoke with them for less than 15 minutes.

2) The Nike Translators. Young used translators provided by Nike when visiting factories, violating the International Law Association’s "Belgrade Minimal Rules" for inspection of human rights abuses around the world, which states that analysts must hire their own translators. Young had no way of knowing whether the translations were accurate.

3) Time Spent in Nike Factories. Young visited 4 factories in China, Vietnam and Indonesia. Investigators spent on average 3-4 hours at each factory, violating the basic precept of labor and human rights investigations: spend enough time to do a complete investigation. Typically, inspection tours will include at least 10 visits per factory for several hours at a time.

4) Workers Organizations. Although the report includes pictures of Young talking with Vietnamese "union representatives", Vietnam Confederation of Labor (VCL) Officials say that they do not recognize any of the pictured individuals. Goodworks admitted that they allowed Nike to pick-out employees who "represent the workers." Young declined to meet with Hoang Thi Kanh, the Vice-president of the VCL and the official in charge of the plants Young visited. While the report does contain pictures, there is no information provided regarding the content of these conversations; Young’s only comment regarding unions is that "these countries do not have a long tradition of worker rights and trade unions."

5) Everything that Goodworks Ignored. Young did not investigate allegations that Nike does not pay its workers local minimum wage or are forced into overtime without compensation. Despite Young’s argument that he was not commissioned for this purpose, he was commissioned to investigate the Code of Conduct, which demands that a sub-contractor pay the minimum wage or the prevailing industry wage - whichever is higher. Young further argued that he did not have the technical capability to perform the study, yet this would have been included in any serious study. Furthermore, there are many safety issues which were never examined. In China, the structure of the factories is illegal - they place the dormitories on the third floor of the factories, which is a serious fire hazard. Nor did he investigate safety procedures, safety equipment, air quality in the factories, or exposure to hazardous chemicals, such as benzene and toluene, used in shoe glue. Young also failed to investigate allegations tha workers were fined large sums for arriving late and talking on the job.

The Just Don't Do It Campaign at the University of Michigan
The U. of Michigan's contract with Nike
Where it all began
Nike's track record
Nike drops the ball--the Andrew Young report
Answers to Frequently Asked Questions
Organizations, Resources, and References
Appendix 1. Breakdown of costs for a pair of Nike shoes
Appendix 2. Leak of the Ernst & Young report from Nike headquarters (NYT 11/8/97)

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