Monday, April 15, 2013

A-Z Challenge: N is for Nike

By: William G. Muir
Let me get a few things off my chest here, first of all this is not a post about the Greek goddess of victory, Nike. Nor am I one of those people who think all cooperations are secretly working together behind the scenes to screw the little man. I do not use the term Big Business in a pejorative manner. I do not think C.E.O.s of any cooperation are a criminals just because they are C.E.O.s. Except for those C.E.Os that have been found guilty of crimes. 

Having said all of that, I do not like the shoe company Nike. This wasn't always the case. When I was in middle school I was desperate to try and fit into with the cool kids. This was the late 80's and Nike was the shoe all the cool kids wore. So one of the things I wanted more than anything else was a pair of Nike. Of course I could hope all I wanted, I was not going to get a pair of tennis shoes that cost $125.00 (yeah I wanted the flashy ones.) Although I did manage to get one of the cheaper Nike brand shoes.

I was over the moon, that is until I found out that no one was wearing that particular pair of Nike
anymore. Being someone who really wished to be part of the in crowd, I couldn't help but feel somewhat embarrassed. But what could I do, I was stuck with those shoes for the whole school year. My parents couldn't afford to fork out for a new pair of shoes just because I didn't like this pair.

So I was stuck.

I don't recall if I had the same desire to own a pair of Nike in high school that I did in Middle. I must have because by the time I had an after school job and was making my own money I do recall buying a pair of suede low top Nike.

It wasn't long after I left high school that my feeling towards Nike changed. I was sitting in the break room at work; I was looking through the editorial section of the Courier-Journal. I just so happened upon an article about Nike. It started off talking about how the company had started off, how the founder of the company would go to track and field events and try to sell his shoes to the athletes.

As I kept on reading down the page that was when I got into the not so nice things that Nike was involved with at the time. Most, if not all the Nike manufacturing plants at the time were in China, I believe, or some other Southeast Asian country. Because of the laws in those countries Nike didn't have to pay there employees a decent wage. The article stated that Nike paid their employees $0.25 an hour to make shoes. In the country in which these workers lived that was enough for them either to pay their rent or to buy food, but not both.

I have to say after reading this article I was shocked. I had no idea a company that was selling shoes in this country at $50-150.00 dollars a pair and paying professional athletes and college sport departments millions of dollars was treating their employees this way. It was right then that I decided that I would never give Nike another one of my dollars.

If they can not find a way to pay their employees a decent living wage, then I am not going to be a
party to their subjugation of those poor workers.


  1. Well said! Sometimes we can make choices of the conscience. And when we have alternatives, it's a good way to go. And when we don't have alternatives, then doing without (if possible) is still a better choice that supporting poverty wages and dangerous working conditions AND forced employment of children.

    Good post :-)

  2. Thank you Teresa.

    At the time I discovered how Nike treated its workers I was 19 and working as a crew trainer at McDonald's. I was relieved to know that I worked in a country that requires employers to pay a minimum wage. I felt sorry that there were people in this world who were not afford such rights.
    -William G. Muir