Cornell Organization for Labor Action protested Nike’s labor practices at a demonstration at the Cornell Store on Thursday.
COLA’s action aimed to pressure the administration to take more direct action against Nike, according to COLA member Katy Habr ’18.
The group’s members spoke out against Nike’s labor practices and cut the Nike symbol after marching around the Nike apparel section with protest signs and chanting “Nike, step off it, the people over profit.”
Nike has failed to comply to an audit instituted by the Workers Rights Consortium for a factory in Vietnam — the factory that produces apparel for many American universities like Cornell, according to a COLA press release.
The audit was initiated when a group of employees went on strike against the diminishing quality of the facility’s working conditions, such as unreasonable production quotas and long working hours with little to no pay increase, according to the release.
Nike refused to comply, so the WRC contacted American students in United Students Against Sweatshops who then demanded that their college administrations stand against Nike’s unethical labor practices, according to the press release.
Cornell’s administration was the first University to contact Nike but has since reached a standstill on reform of the protest, the release said. Nike responded by saying its policy has always prohibited WRC from its production facilities.
COLA member Alfie Rayner ’19 said they believe Thursday’s demonstration was an appropriate stand against the administration’s inaction.
“We’ve been meeting with Cornell administration and the licensing oversight committee and they released a recommendation that Nike had to do something by March 1, but that was months ago and still nothing has happened,” Rayner said.
The goal of the protest was to highlight the intersection between student power and worker’s rights, according to Rayner.
“This problem directly affects our school so who better to take up the cause than the students,” Habr said. “We [students] are the ones buying the apparel. We have the power and the responsibility to take action.”