Nike Could Be Losing Its Contract With Georgetown University Over Workers’ Rights

Georgetown University students are cracking down on the Swoosh.

This week, about 17 students who are part of the workers’ rights advocacy group Georgetown Solidarity Committee occupied the president’s office, demanding the university cut its licensing contract with Nike Inc.

Nike’s deal to produce licensed Georgetown jerseys and shoes expires on Dec. 31, and in a letter addressed to university president John DeGioia, the students urged the school to end its relationship with the brand at that juncture.

According to the Georgetown University publication The Hoya, Nike is currently the only university vendor that has not signed the code of conduct for university licensees, which contains clauses related to standards of labor, wages and benefits and abuse of workers.

Nike has had an extensive history of workers’ rights issues in its factories abroad but had made significant advancements in its efforts to improve labor conditions at such facilities in the past decade or more.

However, the brand found itself in hot water once again for human rights violations after workers went on strike at the Hansae factory in Vietnam in November 2015. Following the strike, student groups began to pressure the university to hold Nike accountable for those factory conditions. To address students’ concerns, DeGioia asked the brand earlier this year to comply with an inspection of the Hansae factory by labor rights group Worker Rights Consortium (WRC). (Georgetown is a founding member of WRC.)

In a report released on Dec. 6, the WRC — which collaborated with the Fair Labor Association (FLA) on the inspection — said it found numerous violations of university labor standards at Hansae, including: wage theft; verbal abuse of workers; pregnancy discrimination; forced overtime; and “an array of health and safety violations.”

In their letter to DeGioia, the students demand that the university — which reportedly holds the largest Jordan brand contract in the country — ­ refuse to renew its licensing contract with Nike on the grounds of those violations.

Footwear News has reached out to Nike for comment on this and will provide updates when they become available.

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