We can’t wait for Nike to hold themselves accountable, first move on us



Yvonne Nguyen

The University is an affiliate institution of the Workers Rights Consortium, the world’s only independent monitoring agency, to inspect the factories of our licensees as to ensure they uphold our Code of Conduct and university labor standards. On Dec. 6, the WRC released a second report about a Nike factory called Hansae Vietnam, which produces Villanova gear, and identified numerous violations of Villanova labor standards. The University has not taken any concrete actions to hold Nike accountable, giving it unwarranted permission to continue its abhorrent actions towards its and our workers. Villanova’s Code of Conduct is flagrantly disregarded each day by Nike as Villanova waits to take a firm stance against Nike’s abusive labor practices. Can we wait to take an immediate, public position?

What would happen if on-campus workers had to endure physical abuse, verbal abuse, wage theft, pregnancy discrimination, forced overtime, restriction on use of toilets, denial of sick leave, family leave and bereavement leave, unprotected exposure to toxic solvents or one to two people collapsing unconscious everyday due to extreme temperatures and overwork? These are the unacceptable conditions our overseas workers undergo. Are our offshore workers less worthy of our attention than our on-campus workers? Can we wait to protect our workers? 

Nike denied the WRC access to Hansae Vietnam for over a year as they knowingly withheld the deplorable working conditions of the factory from the WRC and us, their customers. For over a year, and even now, Nike alone refuses to open any of the their factory doors for full, independent monitoring by the WRC. There is no transparency and no justice. Can we wait to demand that Nike open up the doors to all their factories? 

As a national university with a top-ranking athletics program, we have the rank, power and privilege to expose and denounce human injustices. We seem to speak out against the matters that do not cost us a pretty penny. But, when it comes to our multi-million dollar relationship with Nike, we are silent. With our existing Nike contract, The University effectively perpetuates the system of sweatshops, of modern-day slavery. Our Villanova workers subjected to work in slave-like conditions. Can we continue sustaining sweatshops?

Each day we prolong taking action is another day of our complicity to our workers being exploited, abused, stripped of their freedom and dignity. In his “Letter from Birmingham Jail,” Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. reminds us, “Justice too long delayed is justice denied.” We cannot wait to be leaders in our community. We cannot wait to defend our Catholic, Augustinian values. We cannot wait to hold Nike accountable. We cannot wait. Let us show that Villanova supports Workers’ Rights.