Albion Monitor /Commentary
[Editor's note: For more on Nike sweatshops, see Santa's Little Sweatshop in a previous issue]

Getting "Nikied"

by Jim Hightower

"To Nike" someone is to take-out one's frustrations on a fellow worker

Still radiant from the victorious glow of his re-election bid, Bill Clinton's first trip was not to Boston, Detroit, Chicago, LA, Seattle or to any of the other working-class towns that showered him with their votes... but to Asia, where foreign corporate interests had showered him with campaign contributions.

The Philippines, Indonesia, Malaysia, Burma, China, Vietnam -- these are the cheap-labor hell-holes where both US and Asian corporations make consumer goods for you and me, goods that are produced by 15-cent-an-hour labor, by child labor, by slave labor.

Our president met cordially with the dictators and corporate exploiters who profit phenomenally from a wage-scale that mires these workers in abject poverty, even while it takes jobs from our country, and all the while Clinton hailed the "glorious global good" of free trade.

He might have asked Nike workers in Vietnam about the freedom of his trade policy. Not only are they poorly paid; They are abused. Roberta Baskin of the CBS show "48 Hours" recently reported that 15 workers making Nike shoes in a Vietnamese factory were struck by a supervisor for "poor sewing." Indeed, the supervisor hit the 15 women workers with a Nike shoe!

Other Nike workers reported getting their mouth's taped shut and being forced to kneel with their hands extended skyward in a sort of submission and supplication to the bosses. "It's no big deal," said the supervisor, "it's just a method for managing workers."

Yeah, Nike, so was slavery.

CBS reports that this management technique is now so common that a new phrase has entered the Vietnamese vocabulary: "To Nike" someone is to take-out one's frustrations on a fellow worker.

The next time you consider buying a pair of Nikes, think of working families here and in Vietnam who are being "Nikied."

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Albion Monitor December 21, 1996 (

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