Michael Wenye Li / Sun Staff Photographer

March 2, 2017

COLA Protest Cornell Ties with Nike at Call-In

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Organization for Labor Action held a call-in in hopes of repeating history and pushing the administration to reconsider its licensing agreement with Nike Wednesday.

After the Worker’s Rights Consortium, an independent labor watchdog, issued a report detailing Nike’s violations against its factory workers, COLA delivered a letter urging the University to reconsider its business relationship with Nike to Interim President Hunter Rawlings last month.

Following the letter, the event was organized so students could call administrators to share their opinions directly.

“It is a good way to get the administration to notice that we do care,” said Alfie Rayner ’18, a COLA member.

Rayner explained that several years ago, Cornell terminated its contract with Nike due to its violations of the Bangladesh Health and Safety accords, as well as with Russell Athletic and Jansport over concerns of workers’ rights violations.

“We have the ability to influence policies,” Rayner said. “Our efforts have worked in the past and led to tangible action.”

Since then, Cornell has reached out to Nike demanding that it clarify its commitment to following the guidelines of the WRC, but Nike has not responded, Rayner added.

“Given Nike’s action throughout the past year, anything less than a clear commitment to allowing the WRC future access would be evidence of Nike’s unwillingness to respect the rights of workers it profits,” said Katy Habr ’18, another COLA member.

Habr was determined to see tangible action from the University and explained that COLA would not wait for the University.

“Although we have faith the administration will hold Nike accountable for its violations of our contract and code of conduct, we are prepared to escalate if we see that appropriate actions are not being taken,” Habr said.