The Colin Kaepernick conversation stops here. At this point, I could not care less about the guy. So what if he went to a Super Bowl and turned into a social justice warrior who ruined football. So what if he’s the face of Nike’s new ad campaign. I don’t care anymore because what I’m about to tell you is 1000% worse. Everything Nike is doing right now with Colin Kaepernick is just high school drama and it’s all meaningless after this discussion.
Let’s talk about the inhumane working conditions for people who are basically tortured in long grueling hours, overtime every week, and only get paid about $74 a month. I’m talking about 65 hours a week for $74 dollars a month. I’m pretty sure that’s worse than prison wages. If they only worked 5 days a week, then that’s like 13 hour days and about 28-29 cents per hour.
You won’t be that worried about Nike and Colin Kaepernick drama after you see what people overseas are being tortured by Nike? In fact, you’ll probably dislike Nike even more after this revelation.
If Nike didn’t throw a monkey wrench at the Internet this week, then I wouldn’t have been so interested in researching their working conditions for their employees. I don’t care who makes my shoes if they’re being treated well, because all hardworking employees deserve the best treatment because they are the ones who make the company successful.
I was kinda shocked to find out this sick information about Nike’s sweatshops in other countries. I think you’re going to appreciate your job a lot more after you see what other human beings are basically forced to do just so we can get some finely crafted shoes.
Let’s expose Nike for what they really are.
In 2016 a girl named Noi Supaiai was speaking at Penn State about the abusive working conditions in a Nike factory located in her homeland of Thailand. She used a translator to tell her story. It is gutwrenching and the story is from 2016, well before this Nike and Colin Kaepernick nonsense blew up the Internet like a puffer fish on speed.
Supalai talked about a factory named Eagle Speed and the abuse that she and other workers faced. She mentioned having very tight time constraints. If they failed to meet the deadlines, the factory was fined and the employees sometimes were not paid. Deadlines are fine as long as they’re meetable and not something ridiculous, which in this case, it seems that they were simply unmeetable and possibly a scam to get free labor. At one point the employees went two months without being paid. Can any of us imagine going to work full time and not getting paid for two months? How would that affect your family? That is theft of wages if you ask me. Nike was basically stealing from their family by making such deadlines that were probably nearly impossible to meet, especially under such poor working conditions.
At one point she spoke about the workers taking turns going home to shower. Disgusting. They were basically trapped there and it was like they were slaves who were being held down by a deadline because they all wanted to get paid, so going home may not have always been an option.
At some point, they gave up and about 2000 employees went on strike. This is the one time that going on strike was definitely needed. These weren’t greedy people looking to get rich off the company, they just wanted to get paid and have decent working conditions, something any hard working American would want as well.
The factory tried dealing with it by setting up a meeting with Nike executives, but the Nike reps didn’t show up.
At some point after that the employees began getting locked up for “being too radical” – maybe they were sleep deprived from working in a horror show.
Could they get another job? I don’t know. I don’t know what the economy in Thailand is like. I imagine they could, but I also imagine it’s not like how it is here in America.
Nike eventually moved away from the factory. No shock there. Maybe they weren’t getting any more free labor by putting people into inhumane conditions.
Supalai said “I never expected such a big company like Nike to lack such business ethics. They did not have the humanity to care for the workers — actually, they could talk with the factory to treat us better…but they just did not care about the humanity.”
It gets worse. I found a page on the University of Michigan server that had this information. I am not sure when this was posted, but it actually looks very old. It’s dated and rather ugly. It reminds me of an old-school AOL profile page. The accuracy of this I cannot account for, but based on what Supalai stated with her experience working in a Nike factory none of this seems out of the ordinary. It’s sickening what Nike’s factories do to people in other countries while Nike is over here talking about sacrificing everything. Nike literally has people working for them with nothing left to sacrifice and we’re running around with $150 sneakers that someone slaved over. It’s actually quite disturbing how badly these folks are treated.
It reports that there was a location in Pakistan where children were sewing soccer balls for about $0.60 per day. That was in 1996, so I’m not sure what it’s like now. They state that in China, the new employees had to pay one month salary to the company as their “deposit” and they lost it if they didn’t stay there for a full year. It continues stating that Vietnam factory workers only get paid about $0.20 per hour or $1.60 per day. The cost of eating is/was reportedly $2.10 per day in that location. Sadly, the minimum wage was $45 per month over there, but reports suggest that employees received below those wages, illegally, of course.
It then states that workers in Haiti were lucky to get $0.30 per hour, but it wasn’t enough to cover the cost of eating or sending children to school and that Nike wasn’t happy there so they moved to China.
Then they give us even more bad news. They state that Nike workers in Vietnam are FORCED to work 65 hours per week for $10, and overtime without compensation, which violates Vietnamese labor laws.
Not only were the workers underpaid and in poor conditions, but they were possibly being poisoned as well.
The article stated:
Workers complain that many faint during shift from exhaustion, heat, fumes and poor nutrition. Ernst and Young similarly found in China that the plants have no safety goggles, fume hoods or gloves for workers handling dangerous chemicals such as benzene and toluene, a known carcinogen that poses a fatal risk. Exposure rates were upwards of 177 times that considered dangerous. In the same Chinese factory, almost 78% of the workers had a respiratory disease. Despite the respiratory illness, not one of the workers had been moved to a department that was free from these dangerous chemicals.
In this factory, there is one doctor and two nurses to service 10,000 workers. In the Sam Yang factory in Vietnam there is one doctor who works two hours a day to service 6,000 workers.
Low pay, inhumane working conditions, unhealthy working environment, and now the kicker. The women were basically being Harvey Weinstien’ed and “Me Too’ed” the whole time. The report suggests that women were constantly grabbed in inappropriate places and hit over the head for not sewing well enough. Sounds horrible, right?
Employees in Vietnam have stated that verbal abuse and sexual harassment are frequent and that corporal punishment is often used. Supervisors have been reported to frequently grab the women’s breasts and buttocks. Furthermore, according to the CBS News, 15 Vietnamese female workers were hit over the head with a Nike shoe for “poor sewing”. 2 of them were sent to the hospital. In Indonesia a woman collapsed on the job and died because she did not receive medical attention. If the woman had taken a sick leave, she would have been fired. On International Women’s Day, 56 women were forced to run around the outside of the factory in the hot sun for wearing nonregulation shoes. 12 of these women were hospitalized.
Let’s take another look at the third source of information.
This is from an article on the Biz Journals website from 2014 and it addressed Nike lack of disclosing information. People wanted to know why Nike wouldn’t release certain information about their wages and it turns out, based on the article, that Nike may have only released that information maybe one time.
Why? Because they pay people terribly. There’s no other reason for a company to withhold information on their employee wages unless the company is embarrassed because they treat their workers like less than human.
It seems like that’s exactly what happened.
A Nike spokesman did not immediately respond to a question about why Nike didn’t disclose information about factory wages in the new report.
Nike has only disclosed that information once, in a similar report released in 2001. At the time, Nike said it paid more than the minimum wage in each country it did business, a claim that is now challenged by some critics.
The Business Journal converted the 2001 wages from local currencies to 2014 U.S. dollars using an online currency converter and an inflation adjuster.
Search the database for information about the wages Nike paid workers at its contract factories in 2001. Not surprisingly, the countries that produce the most Nike merchandise pay some of the lowest wages.
Vietnam has the most Nike contract factory workers, according to an interactive map on Nike’s website. Those workers in 2001 earned the equivalent of $73.94 per month in 2014 U.S. dollars.
I guess the point of all this is that Nike is running an ad campaign about people who sacrifice everything and they’re using millionaires who’ve sacrificed nothing.
Meanwhile, they’re paying people pennies to sell shoes for $200 a pair.
I’m not worried about Colin Kaepernick anymore, but I feel horrible for the people who put my shoes together knowing that they barely made any money, got treated terribly, and it really seems like Nike could care less about the people who do all the work to make them rich.
For that reason alone, I can’t support Nike anymore.
It’s not about Colin Kaepernick, it’s about the people who do the real work.
They deserve better.