University of Washington demands transparency to Nike

From www.seattleweekly.com |

As Casey Jaywork informs, the University of Washington will cut its contract with Nike “unless the apparel giant allows independent labor investigators unprecedented access to the factories in which its clothes are produced”.

In an internal letter sent last Friday, UW President Ana Mari Cauce said that she is “prepared to let the contract lapse” with Nike to produce UW-themed apparel unless Nike requires its supplier factories to give on-demand access to the Worker’s Rights Consortium (WRC), an investigatory and advocacy group. “It must also be the responsibility and obligation of Nike and their contractors to cooperate fully with such investigations,” said Cauce, “including free and full access to all facilities, materials and records that may be relevant to such an investigation.”

“President Cauce’s commitment to require WRC monitoring to renew the contract is the only way to effectively move Nike,” he says. “Companies don’t voluntarily make changes that affect their profits or their business models out of the goodwill of their hearts. They make changes because of external forces.

“Nike is never going to allow the WRC to access its factories unless universities, as major licensing business partners, actually compel them to change their behavior by cutting these contracts.”

The UW’s current contract for Nike to produce UW-licensed apparel, which is not exclusive, has been in place since at least 2001 and possibly a little earlier, according to UW spokesperson Victor Balta. In 2016, the relationship produced for Nike close to $5 million and for the UW about $284,000 in royalties. The UW has licensing agreements with hundreds of companies, and over the past five years Nike generated 17 percent of the university’s overall royalty revenue, says Balta.

This is another move from some universities to try to demand Nike be consistent with the core values needed to be a partner of such institutions.

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