On Monday, August 1, 2016, a coalition of Georgetown facilities workers and Georgetown Solidarity Committee members delivered a letter to President DeGioia demanding that he pressure Nike to sign on to Georgetown’s Code of Conduct. The Code of Conduct is an agreement between Georgetown and its licensees that governs the labor conditions, that licensees must maintain in order to continue to work with Georgetown. Nike is the only brand that contracts with Georgetown that has not signed this agreement. This letter delivery is the latest in a string of actions, mostly taken by Athletes and Advocates for Worker Rights, to demand that Nike play by the rules.
When workers at a Hansae factory in Vietnam went on strike last November to protest sweatshop conditions, Nike banned the only independent monitoring organization access to their factories, the Worker Rights Consortium. Although the crisis in Hansae is just now being addressed by Nike, this is only the latest in a string of Nike’s deplorable human and labor rights abuses. Georgetown currently has the largest university contract with Air Joran, a Nike brand, and the administration has the ability to place safeguards in our policies to protect workers abroad.
It is no coincidence that we decided to deliver the letter to coincide with the Feast Day of St. Ignatius of Loyola. In his words, “If our church is not marked by caring for the poor, the oppressed, the hungry, we are guilty of heresy.” We demand that Georgetown honor its Jesuit values and stand with garment workers in Vietnam and across the world. Additionally, as Georgetown works to address its role in the horrific institution of chattel slavery, we ask the University to contend with its continued complicity in racialized wage slavery through its contracts with Nike. For these reasons, we demand that Georgetown pressure Nike to sign the Code of Conduct, and if Nike fails to comply – sever ties in the name of worker’s rights.