After more than a year of Cornell Organization for Labor Action protesting Nike’s relationship with the University, President Martha Pollack took action and cut ties with the leading sportswear brand in a letter dated July 7.
The letter notified Nike and Branded Custom Sportswear — the apparel maker’s exclusive licensee for college apparel — that since they were unwilling to attest to a labor code of conduct, vetted by Cornell and peer institutions, their licensing relationship had been terminated, the University announced Monday.
COLA began protesting the University’s ties with Nike when the company refused to allow the Workers Rights Consortium to independently monitor its factories over two years ago.
Earlier the administration had said that there was “not enough evidence” to make a decision.
The letter marks the second time that Cornell has cut ties with Nike. In an earlier interview COLA member Alfie Rayner ’18 had explained how Cornell terminated its contract five years ago due to Nike’s violations of the Bangladesh Health and Safety Accords.
In the July 7 letter, Pollack allowed for the possibility of the licensing agreement to be renewed if Nike decides to adopt suitable labor conditions.
“To the extent that Nike and/or BCS decide in the future to embrace the IMG standard contract language, Cornell University will be happy to re-engage with you as licensing partners,” Pollack wrote.
The Cornell Store will sell its current stock of Nike merchandise, but no new orders will be placed, the University said.
Members of COLA praised Pollack’s decision in a press release and highlighted that Cornell is now the fifth school to take action against Nike’s alleged labor violations, following Rutgers, Georgetown, UC Santa Barbara and Northeastern.
“COLA is proud to see Cornell’s standing commitment towards upholding Cornell’s values and legacy on global labor issues,” it said.