Read These Nikes

Swoosh! Young Report Ignores Nike Labor Grievances

by Ashley Overbeck

Special Assignments Team

ashbeck@darkwing.uoregon.edu

At Nike's request, former UN Ambassador and civil rights activist Andrew Young conducted a six-month "independent" investigation of the shoe giant's Code of Conduct and its implementation in Nike's Asian factories. Young and his GoodWorks International consulting firm visited plants in Vietnam, Indonesia and China and reported back that all's well in the Nike operation -- in stark contrast to conclusions reached by human rights monitoring organizations. For a company that seems to regard unlivable wages, labor law violations and worker abuse by its overseas contractors as a mere public relations problem, Nike found in Young a perfect PR solution.

Young's final report was regarded by many as a whitewash, a review that could not have been more flattering if it had been written by Nike itself. The report was limited to peripheral matters, glossing over or failing to address critical issues of wages and working conditions. Young's recommendations offer little hope that there will be any real change in the way Nike and its subcontractors do business. In this special report, ParaScope examines the GoodWorks investigation and compares Young's glowing conclusions to the grim realities reported by other labor researchers in Asia.