Nike defends its Code of Conduct

Nike takes seriously its responsibility to provide fair wages and safe working conditions for the more than 500,000 people who manufacture, distribute, and sell our products in 35 countries around the world. That is why we are concerned about the charges raised by a former Salvadoran factory employee at a Washington press conference Nov. 17 and The Christian Science Monitor's publication of the employee's statement in "Nike Code of Conduct: 'Just Do It' - or you're fired?" (Nov. 25).

We are taking these charges very seriously and are conducting an investigation, in cooperation with our manufacturing partner in San Bartolo, El Salvador (where the alleged incidents took place). The San Bartolo factory manufactures products for Nike, Adidas, VF (Lee, Wrangler, and other jeans), and Nike is a customer for just 30 percent of the plant's output. The Ministry of Labor is also looking into the incident. Should we determine that there was any wrongdoing, we will take appropriate corrective measures.

While our investigation is continuing into the circumstances involving this worker's situation, let me reiterate that all factories that manufacture Nike products must adhere to the company's Code of Conduct, which is designed to ensure fair wages, safe working conditions, individual dignity, and freedom of association. Factories that fail to meet the terms of the Code of Conduct, or other company rules governing the workplace, have been fined and in several cases had their contracts cancelled. The accusations made in this case are all code violations and will be treated as such, should they be true.

The organizer of the press conference, the National Labor Committee, has leveled harsh criticism at President Clinton's Apparel Industry Partnership (AIP) of which Nike is a member. The criticism is misdirected. A better target would be hundreds of companies who have yet to become party to the AIP and the requirements it imposes on global apparel manufacturing for fair wages, safe working conditions, and independent monitoring of factory operations.

Maria Eitel

Washington, D.C.

Vice President, Corporate Responsibility

Nike, Inc.

Back from the edge of the seat

I liked columnist Daniel Schorr's lead-in regarding the "CNN effect: edge-of-seat diplomacy" (Nov. 27).

Mr. Schorr seems to feel that the last delay in American-sponsored violence was an opportunity lost. On the positive side, give national security adviser Sandy Berger credit for reporting late developments. On the basis of what we learn from media sentiment - reinforced by Schorr - we should strike out at Iraq with bombs. But is this accurate? How about a good-faith article on how the Middle East problems could be the subject of an international commission? It's been suggested before. Maybe the time is ripe.

Merritt L. Ball

Groton, Conn.

Home and family during the holidays

"Not home for the Holidays" (Nov. 25) was well put on behalf of singles who gather as groups to celebrate holidays.

Just as they adjust, so can we, as grandparents and great grandparents at the senior end of the age continuum. If our families can't "come home," we need to adjust graciously and reach out ourselves to non-relatives at holiday time. Travel can be exhausting and expensive no matter how many family members hit the road. The elastic heart stretches to include others, as well as those connected to us by blood.

Nancy Buell Leussler

Shorewood, Wis.

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