Penn State’s chapter of United Students Against Sweatshops (USAS) is urging President Barron not to renew its non-athletic licensing contract with Nike when it expires at the end of the month due to reported unethical labor conditions in one of the company’s factories.
USAS met with President Barron to urge him and university administrators that Nike’s use of unethical labor in overseas factories breaches the university’s Code of Conduct. According to a press release from USAS, Nike forbade the Workers’ Rights Consortium (WRC) from monitoring its Vietnam factory, but pressure from advocacy groups including USAS forced Nike to let them in. Upon doing so WRC filed a 113-page report with Penn State outlining the various labor abuses in the factory and, according to a press release from USAS, President Barron agreed to let the contract expire.
According to Penn State Spokeswoman Lisa Powers, however, just because the contract is expiring doesn’t mean it won’t be renewed, as otherwise reported.
“It is too early to say that we are letting our licensing agreement with Nike expire,” Powers said. “It is up for renewal and we are discussing the terms of renewal, as a matter of routine business.”
Penn State suspended a similar contract with Adidas in 2013 for similar reasons, also due to the efforts of USAS, but the contract was ultimately restored after Adidas agreed to pay the workers at its Indonesian plant.