Converse describes itself as “a story of legends, heroes, and innovators tied together by the love of sport.” But ‘sport’ doesn’t include throwing sneakers at factory workers, right? Tell that to the supervisors at the Indonesian factories which produce Converse shoes who regularly throw sneakers at their employees. Maybe also add that just like sneakers aren’t for throwing, employees aren’t for slapping or calling pigs and dogs. Reports compiled by the Associated Press show that the factories subcontracted by Converse are operating far below the standards it had set for itself ten years ago. Nike, which owns the Converse brand, confirms these reports, stating that ⅔ of the factories fail to meet Nike standards. But they cannot address these problems, they insist, since these contracts were set before Nike bought Converse in 2003.
Then how do they explain the Pou Chen Group factory in Sukabumi, 60 miles from Indonesia’s capital of Jakarta which didn’t start producing Converse products until 2007? At this plant, workers are kicked, slapped, scratched, fired for taking sick days and paid fifty cents and hour. At another plant outside the nation’s capital, a supervisor forced six women to stand unprotected under the sun for two hours for failing to produce the targeted 60 dozen pairs of shoes on time.
Hannah Jones, Nike’s VP of Sustainable Business and Innovation who oversees the company’s efforts to improve working conditions, confirms these findings but states that "We do see other issues of that similar nature coming up across the supply chain but not on a frequent level," she said. "We see issues of working conditions on a less egregious nature across the board."
How many sneakers have to be thrown for working conditions to be considered egregious Ms. Jones? How many workers abused or humiliated? Join us in demanding that Nike hold themselves accountable by:
-Conducting far more aggressive and transparent investigations into the factories they are subcontracting to produce Converse products.
-Suspending factories that they identify (or have already been identified) as below Nike standards (as stated in the Nike Responsibility: Workers and Factories and Nike Leadership Standard) until the factory owners and subcontractors take action to improve working conditions for employees, put managers through Nike leadership training, pass all working condition standards and report these revisions to the Nike task force.
-Creating a transparent strategy to address labor violations in factories under existing contracts