Local News

UNC and FSU Students Together on Sweatshop Issue

Posted November 7, 1997 12:00 a.m. EST

— University of North Carolina and Florida State University students have put their rivalries aside and found at least one issue they can agree on. They have joined forces to call for an end to sweatshop labor.

The students, united in protesting the Nike Corporation, accusing the company of using unfair labor practices. They want their universities to end athletic contracts with the sportswear giant.

They called the the Nike Speakout, and it began at noon Friday on the UNC campus near the Old Well. A debate of sorts was planned in addition to the rally, with UNC Chancellor Michael Hooker discussing the issue with some of the leaders of the Nike Awareness campaign. The plan for the day was to give anyone who wanted to speak out of the topic of sweatshop labor an opportunity to do so. Hooker told WRAL-TV5'sMark Robertsthat outside support for athletic programs is very important.

The Nike Awareness organization began its work last week by meeting with former UNC basketball coach Dean Smith. Everyone involved said that meeting provided a good exchange of ideas.

Jeff Jones, representing Nike Awareness, said the group is concerned about the increasing role of corporations in college athletics.

The group has taken a stand against Nike's track record on labor in Southeast Asia, but the school supports the flow of income from corporations. The money that comes in to the athletic department also supports programs such as women's field hockey, which makes very little money on its own.

The organization has plans to continue its campaign against Nike at the UNC vs. FSU football game Saturday night.

FSU students have a similar organization on their campus. UNC students said Friday that there is a lot of cohesiveness between the groups.

For it's part, Nike says it stands behind its written policy regarding labor practices. According to the NIKE code of conduct, the company condemns and prohibits child labor, requires workers be paid a fair wage, restricts the amount of hours a person is required to work, and prohibits mistreatment or discrimination of workers in any form.

Photographer:Ed Wilson