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NIKE LAYOFFS HIT 480 IN ASIA; VIETNAM FACTORIES PROFILED

          Nike said Friday that it will cut 480 jobs in Asia,
     accounting for about 30% of its global reductions, according
     to Didi Tatlow of the AP.  Nike spokesperson Martha Benson
     said that Asia's economic troubles have "hurt sales" in the
     region.  Benson: "The cost of a shoe suddenly grows quite
     significant when your currency drops in half."  Nike's
     22,000 person global work force will be cut by 7%,
     accounting for $30M-$45M of an estimated $175M in
     restructuring costs.  Benson did not give details as to
     where the Asian job cuts would occur (AP, 3/21). An
     OREGONIAN editorial Friday addressed Nike's Asian layoffs:
     "[M]aybe there's one bright side to this story.  Maybe now
     the U.S. labor activists who have made such a stink about
     the 'exploitative' manufacturing jobs in Nike's Asian
     subcontractors will lay off for a bit" (OREGONIAN, 3/20).
          OR, THEN AGAIN, MAYBE THEY WON'T: In its "occasional
     series on chasing cheap sweatshop labor," the PHILADELPHIA
     INQUIRER examines Nike's contracting out to Vietnamese
     factories under the header, "Vietnam Gives Nike A Run For
     Its Money."  In a front-page piece, Jennifer Lin writes that
     Nike's foray into Vietnam "has been anything but business as
     usual for Nike in its constant global search for cheap
     labor."  Although the company "found the eager, low-wage
     workforce it covets, it did not bargain on such a rude
     welcome from this Communist nation, where more than lip
     service is paid to  workers' rights.  Nor did it anticipate
     hostile local press coverage in a nation with no free
     press."  For Nike, one out of every ten pairs of its shoes
     now comes from Vietnamese subcontractors, and Lin writes
     that CEO Phil Knight will have to convince critics that
     "$1.84 a day is a fair wage for Vietnamese workers"
     (PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER, 3/23).  In a related piece, PA State
     Rep. Robert Belfanti has proposed a resolution that would
     "force" Penn State Univ. to sever its ties with Nike because
     of the company's "reported mistreatment of Asian workers." 
     Penn State recently extended its original deal which was
     signed in '94 worth $2.6M over three years (INQUIRER, 3/23).
     
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