Student Group and President’s Office Discuss Relationship with Nike



Corinna Vlahoyiannis

Feb. 15 2017, Villanovans Against Sweatshops (VAS) met with University President Rev. Peter M. Donohue, O.S.A., Ph.D. to discuss the Workers Rights Consortium report on Nike’s Hansae factory in Vietnam, released Dec. 6, 2016. Nike’s violations in Hansae have been ongoing and include exposing workers to extreme temperatures leading to illness, harassment, wage theft and manipulation by management. Nike, promising that these violations have been resolved, has prevented the WRC from entering their factories, .

VAS’s requests during their meeting with Donohue included: the University to immediately sever licensing contract with Nike, release a written, public statement establishing the University’s intentions to address Nike’s violations, amend agreements to require all licensees and athletic sponsors to open all production facilities to independent monitoring by the WRC and for the University to consider outfitting with other brands that prioritize workers’ rights, noting that Nike is the only brand to not open any facilities to independent monitoring by the WRC.

“We first and foremost want to thank Father Peter for meeting with us, for his time and support,” Yvonne Nguyen, student leader of VAS, said. “We are disappointed Fr. Peter is not committed to taking any concrete actions at this time.”

“As an Augustinian and Catholic University—and an educational institution—we hold sacred the rights and dignity of all human persons, Father Donohue said. I was very concerned by the reports released by the Worker Rights Consortium and Fair Labor Association with respect to labor practices at the Hansae factory where some Nike products are manufactured. I appreciate the students who are dedicated to continuing to advocate for fair working conditions for all employees. Villanova feels very strongly about the rights of workers and, as one of the 186 affiliate members of the

Worker Rights Consortium and the 200 affiliates of the Fair Labor Association, we have pledged to stand united with other colleges and universities in supporting these organizations’ efforts to protect the rights of workers.”

Furthermore, the University issued a statement: “Villanova University and its administration takes any violation of human rights very seriously. Father Donohue has personally reached out to Nike leadership on a number of occasions—and continues to have ongoing discussions with them— regarding the concerns about the

VAS student group visiting the President’s Office in December to drop off a letter.

labor conditions in factories where their products are manufactured. In fact, Nike has put into place a comprehensive remediation plan requiring corrective action to address any issues of non-compliance at the factory, which is an important first step. The University supports the Worker Rights Consortium having continued access to the Hansae factory, and all factories where Nike products are produced, for the purposes of monitoring and reporting—as it did during the Hansae investigation. Moving forward, Villanova is working with affiliate institutions, including

Georgetown University, to continue this important dialogue as collectively we have more leverage and are better positioned to affect positive change.”

“This is not about guilting our students or faculty for wearing and essentially endorsing Nike,” Nguyen said. “This is about holding Nike accountable for their reprehensible actions. Villanova can no longer be complicit or complacent about Nike’s worker violations. We view meeting with Fr. Peter as the first step towards a starting a campus dialogue about Villanova’s role in perpetuating sweatshops.”