The workers’ rights advocacy group Georgetown Solidarity Committee demanded the university cut its licensing contract with Nike by the end of business hours today when about 10 of its members delivered a letter yesterday afternoon to Chief of Staff Joseph Ferrara.
The group also had a private meeting with Ferrara after delivering the letter. The letter and meeting come as the contract with Nike is set to expire Dec. 31 following negotiations with Nike to allow it to use Georgetown’s logo.
The company is currently the only university vendor that has not signed the Code of Conduct for University Licensees, which contains clauses related to standards of labor, wages and benefits and abuse of workers.
Nike has come under criticism for human rights violations committed in its factories after workers went on strike at the Hansae factory in Vietnam in November 2015. The Workers’ Rights Consortium, a labor rights monitoring organization for universities including Georgetown, said in a Nov. 17 memo to member universities that Nike had declined its request to inspect the Hansae factory.
The letter said Nike’s refusal to cooperate with the Workers’ Rights Consortium should be enough cause for the university to not end its contract with the company.
“Your time is up,” the letter reads. “Students demanded over a year ago to end our business relationship with Nike over their blatant refusal to facilitate access for the Workers Rights Consortium (WRC) to its supplier factories. This alone is sufficient reason to believe Nike cannot be trusted, and that we should sever our relationship with the brand.”
The letter also demands that the university require all vendors to sign the Code of Conduct and undergo monitoring by the Worker’s Rights Consortium.
The students walked from the entrance of Healy Hall to the Office of the President singing “We wish you would cut the contract” to the tune of “We Wish You a Merry Christmas.” There, GSC member Isabelle Teare (COL ’18), also a member of the Licensing and Oversight Committee, addressed Ferrara and requested the meeting.
“We are here right now to tell you that your time is up,” Teare said. “Students have met with you over and over again, we’ve encouraged you to do the right thing.”
Teare said Nike’s refusal to allow the Workers’ Rights Consortium to access its factories is against the university’s values.
“That is against everything we stand for as a university and it is no longer acceptable that Georgetown is not taking a stand on this issue,” Teare said. “What we have to say to you today is that you have until business closing tomorrow, Wednesday [Dec. 7], to cut the licensing contract with Nike.”
GSC member Vincent DeLaurentis (SFS ’17) said in an interview with The Hoya that GSC delivered the letter along with a report released by the Workers’ Rights Consortium demanded the university read the report and cut the contract. The Workers’ Rights Consortium report said there continue to be workers’ rights violations at Nike factories.
“The university in these private meetings is willing to tell us that they agree with our values, but it’s time for the university to live out its values in public,” DeLaurentis said of the meeting with Ferrara. “This letter and all future actions that we take are not about asking the university to do this, it’s about telling the university to do it and forcing them to do it, and I know that we can force them to do it.”
A Facebook event created by GSC called “Your Time Is Up: Rally to Cut the Nike Contract” is set for Thursday at 11:45 a.m. in Dahlgren Quadrangle.
This article will be updated as more information becomes available. Contact information was redacted.
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