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NIKE CAN'T SHAKE LABOR DAZE: ERNST & YOUNG STUDY RELEASED

          Working conditions at Nike-contracted factories in
     Vietnam and Asia were in the news again over the weekend as
     findings from an audit conducted for Nike by Ernst & Young
     was obtained by the media.  The report found "many unsafe
     conditions" at a Nike factory near Ho Chi Minh City where
     workers "were exposed to carcinogens that exceeded local
     legal standards by 177 times in parts of the plant" and
     showed that 77% "of the employees suffered from respiratory
     problems."  The Ernst & Young report was highlighted in a
     front-page feature by Steven Greenhouse in Saturday's N.Y.
     TIMES.  The findings also showed that employees were "forced
     to work 65 hours a week, far more than Vietnamese law
     allows, for $10 a week."  Greenhouse: "The inspection report
     offers an unusually detailed look into conditions at one of
     Nike's plants at a time when the world's largest athletic
     shoe company is facing criticism from human rights and labor
     groups that it treats workers poorly" (N.Y. TIMES, 11/8). 
     As the study was released to the media, Nike issued the
     complete report findings in a news conference on Friday
     afternoon.  The audit was conducted in November '96 and
     submitted to Nike in January '97.  Vada Manager, Nike Senior
     Manager for PR, said the company has taken steps to improve
     factory working conditions upon receiving the report,
     including reducing overtime hours and restricting the work
     week; upgrading the ventilation systems; and ensuring proper
     safety equipment for workers.  Manager: "Clearly, this
     report is not a whitewash.  By the recommendations cited in
     this audit and steps Nike has taken to improve the working
     conditions, it is clear that our system works" (Nike).
          REAX:  The FINANCIAL TIMES' William Lewis called the
     report "embarrassing" for Nike (FINANCIAL TIMES, 11/10).
     ...In N.Y., Phil Mushnick asks, "Where do all the Nike-
     bought social activists go when these reports are revealed?
     ... And how many TV networks take a dive on these stories
     because Nike spends millions advertising $150 slave-wage-
     made, status symbol sneakers to kids?" (N.Y. POST, 11/10).
     ...In Washington, DC, "more than" 50 lawmakers called on
     Nike "to improve labor standards in Third World factories
     and to employ more people" in the U.S.  A letter to Nike
     Chair Phil Knight said, "As members of the U.S. Congress we
     are deeply disappointed and embarrassed that a company like
     Nike, headquartered in the United States, could be so
     directly involved in the ruthless exploitation of hundreds
     of thousands of desperate Third World workers."  The letter
     was spearheaded by Rep. Bernard Sanders (D-VT) and Rep.
     Marcy Kaptur (D-OH) (BLOOMBERG/NEWSDAY, 11/10)....At UNC-
     Chapel Hill, "roughly" 200 students rallied Friday afternoon
     and "vowed to pressure Nike to improve its labor practices."
     UNC-Chapel Hill Chancellor Michael Hooker defended the
     university's athletic marketing partnership with Nike but
     did promise a campus committee would review future corporate
     relationships at the university (NEWS & OBSERVER, 11/8). 

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