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WORKERS, CRITICS, TAKE CLOSER LOOK AT NIKE INITIATIVES
Published May 15, 1998
Nike faces "a tough sales job" for its factory- improvement program, judging by "skeptical reactions" from Indonesian Nike workers, according to Richard Read of the Portland OREGONIAN, reporting from a Nike-contracted factory in Tangerang, Indonesia. Factory worker Dominguez Pirida: "What can you expect from something grand like this from Nike? Factory managers lie so often, I don't think I can trust it." More Pirida: "I don't really know what to think of [Nike Chair] Phil Knight. Even during Nike's heyday, the wage increases were meager" (OREGONIAN, 5/14). OTHER VIEWS: In Portland, an OREGONIAN editorial stated that Nike "gets it now," and that its planned reforms "seem significant. ... Give Nike credit for doing better by its workers -- and for potentially setting a new, higher standard for other companies doing business in the world's poorest countries" (OREGONIAN, 5/14). The Minnesota STAR TRIBUNE editorializes that Nike's announcement "is plainly a victory for its Asian workers and for human-rights advocates." It states: "Nike has been an industry pioneer in one concept after another -- global sourcing, celebrity endorsements, saturation marketing. This week's announcement should pave the way for another industry trend: a framework for globalization that serves the shoemaker in Vietnam as well the shoe buyer in Minneapolis" (Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE, 5/15). A DETROIT FREE PRESS editorial states that Nike's "laudable efforts are only a few of many important changes Nike needs to make," including raising the minimum wage at its factories: "The changes announced this week are a good start -- but should be just a start. Come on, Nike. Just do it" (DETROIT FREE PRESS, 5/15). In N.Y., Phil Mushnick writes that for a company that "for years insisted that there are no problems in its Third World factories, Nike now seems extremely eager to let us know that it plans to spend a lot of time and money to fix problems that don't exist" (N.Y. POST, 5/15).