Just Pay It! is a USAS campaign demanding that Nike pay workers in two Honduran factories, Hugger and Vision Tex, over $2.2 million in backed pay and legally mandated severance. As students, we act in solidarity to support these workers and their union, the Central General de Trabajadores (CGT), in this struggle.
The Current Situation
On October 8, 2009, the Worker Rights Consortium, an independent monitoring organization that investigates labor conditions in the factories that produce collegiate apparel, issued a report that revealed Nike’s numerous code of conduct violations at these factories. Calculations performed by the Honduran Ministry of Labor revealed that these workers were owed roughly $2.5 million based on existing labor law. The workers were able to recover around $0.3 million from selling off the assets of the factory that were left upon closure.
Nike products represented around 60% of production at Hugger de Honduras and 43% of production at Vision Tex, and the WRC recommended that Nike use its substantial influence and resources to guarantee that these workers are paid. Nike continues to refuse responsibility for the wages owed to these workers.
As students at academic institutions, we leverage the strategic power of our universities and colleges to support the factory workers by pressuring our administrations to cut our collegiate licensing contracts with Nike.
Most universities and colleges “license” their logo, which means that they enter into agreements with brands, like Nike, to allow them to produce university-branded sweatshirts, water bottles, etc. By forcing our universities to cut these contracts, we can pressure Nike into taking responsibility by damaging their public image and taking away millions of dollars in collegiate contracts. We are able to cut these contracts primarily through the channel of the Worker Rights Consortium (WRC). As members of the WRC, our universities and colleges have adopted codes of conduct that outline the standards and conditions that apparel producers must meet in order to do business with our academic institutions.
This campaign model has been highly successful in the past, as exemplified by our recent victory over Russell Athletic. Over the course of the campaign, over 100 universities across the United States, Canada and Great Britain severed their business contracts with Russell, which cost the company over an estimated $50 million and is the largest collegiate boycott of an apparel corporation in the history of modern student activism. The campaign victory resulted in the reopening of a unionized garment factory in Honduras, the rehiring of 1,200 union employees, a multi-million dollar payout by Russell to workers in damages, and a commitment by the company to respect union neutrality at all Russell factories in Honduras.