Cornell University Drops Licensed Apparel Agreement With Nike Over Labor Rights Concerns
We often hear that the third time is the charm, but with respect to the relationship that Cornell University has established with Nike, the entities might not have the opportunity to prove that, and few would probably fault the Ivy League institution for deciding to part ways permanently. On Friday, the school's president, Martha E. Pollack, notified the company that Cornell has chosen for the second time to end its licensing partnership, with concerns for Vietnamese factory employees’ working conditions being the impetus.
The decision’s origins date back to October 2015, when Cornell students and their contemporaries at other American colleges and universities sought, after having heard of labor exploitation of Hansae Vietnam Co. Ltd hires, to have the Workers Rights Consortium inspect its facility. The organization and the Fair Labor Association have since ventured to the Ho Chi Minh City complex numerous times. And, though Nike has addressed the severity of the gripes, including reports of stifling temperatures, physical and verbal abuse, and widespread termination of pregnant women, its overall progress “has fallen short,” according to an April 2017 update. That declaration soon helped the Cornell Organization for Labor Action to deem itself a winner over Nike, named, perhaps ironically in this case, for the Greek goddess of victory.
It remains to be seen just how Nike will continue to make amends to the Vietnamese location’s roughly 8,500 workers, with an Ithaca Voice article stating the marketer must still provide back pay for off-the-clock tasks, tend to cooling systems and ensure that sewing operators have proper seating. However, and here is where talks of the almighty dollar will surely arise, Pollack stated that her employer, which in 2010 first ended its connection to Nike over labor matters in Honduras, would again count itself as a client if Nike and Branded Custom Sportswear, its licensee partner, would follow the “standard contract language” that IMG Collegiate Licensing used to strive to safeguard against human rights violations.
Along with Cornell—which will continue to hawk its already supplied Nike merchandise—Georgetown, Northeastern and Rutgers universities, along with UC Santa Barbara, have nixed Nike as an ally. One wonders if they would be similarly forgiving if the apparel/footwear giant would come down to Earth, but maybe it is better that they all move along and find another collaborator. What do you think?