Case study: Monitoring a source of Nike's sweatshirts

March 2000 The Kukdong factory in Atlixco, Mexico begins making sweatshirts for Nike; aims to produce 1 million pieces by the end of the year.

May 2000 PricewaterhouseCoopers audits Kukdong; reports child labor violations and worker/management communication problems.

Dec. 2000 Kukdong begins production for Reebok; aims to produce 40,000 pieces in a month.

Dec. 15, 2000 Workers boycott factory cafeteria to protest food quality.

Early Jan. 2001 Five supervisors who organized the boycott are fired.

Jan. 8, 2001 Temporary work stoppage; workers give management 24-hour ultimatum to reinstate supervisors and replace union allegedly controlled by management with an independent union controlled by workers.

Jan. 9, 2001 Demands unmet, workers protest. Stone- and garbage-throwing demonstrators refuse to let nonstrikers and managers leave the factory or eat.

Jan. 11, 2001 Mexican police forcibly remove some of the 600 to 700 employees (85 percent women) occupying the factory.

Jan. 12, 2001 Kukdong management agrees to negotiate with workers.

Jan. 13, 2001 Arbitration agreement signed, allowing return of workers.

Jan. 16, 2001 Majority of workers return to factory; Nike posts press release on website (

Jan. 16-26, 2001 Workers' Rights Consortium funds inspection by a Columbia University law professor; International Labor Rights Foundation and the Fair Labor Association (FLA) fund inspection by a Mexican labor lawyer; Nike coordinates with investigators, nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), and rights groups.

Studies confirm violations of child labor, minimum wage, maternity benefits, and cafeteria food standards. Illegal prevention by factory management of striking workers' return also confirmed.

Jan. 31 - Feb. 9, 2001 Verite, nonprofit audit firm retained by Nike and Reebok and accredited by FLA, conducts onsite investigations and ensures safety of returning workers.

Feb. 6, 2001 Existing union conducts collective-bargaining training with all workers.

Feb. 14, 2001 Kukdong distributes and posts "Harassment and Abuse" policy throughout factory.

Feb, 27, 2001 International Labor Organization completes freedom of association and collective-bargaining training for workers, so that workers can make educated decision about selecting new union representation.

March 2001 Verite issues audit findings and recommendations, details results of interviews with workers: Many workers report children as young as 13 working at the factory; others report being hit with hammers, being slapped, having their hair pulled, sexual harassment, unpaid wages, firings for returning late from the bathroom, or having pay reduced by two to three days for one day's absence.

March 14, 2001 Nike releases remediation plan with completion deadlines for each issue. Highlights include: payment of unpaid wages, implementation of Nike overtime policy requiring signatures for voluntary overtime, establishment of worker-grievance system requiring dismissal of managers who violate code, appointment of an NGO to provide training to cope with harassment and abuse, and guarantees that cafeteria dishes and utensils are sterilized and food of decent quality served.

(c) Copyright 2001. The Christian Science Monitor

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