Before last night, I never thought about the people who worked overtime hours in factories just to make ends meet as I put on a pair of Nike shorts. I never considered that it would take a factory worker 9 years to make what LeBron James makes in a single day. I never knew that an employee in a Nike factory would have to save a month and a half’s wages to buy a pair of shoes with that illustrious swoosh.
Those who make our clothes and shoes don’t often cross our minds because all we see of them is the perfect stitching and carefully constructed shoes. Last night, though, Jim Keady shared with McDaniel his 15-year battle against Nike’s treatment of factory workers in Indonesia through the presentation “Behind the Swoosh: Sweatshops and Social Justice.”
Keady was once a soccer coach for the illustrious St. John’s soccer team, but when he started investigating and protesting against the provider of their uniforms, Nike, it cost him his job. In search of the truth, he went to Indonesia for a month to work in a factory and document the treatment of all the workers.
He learned of protesters and union organizers who were beaten and tortured, smoke from burning extra shoe parts that was filled with carcinogens and made children sick, and the unsanitary living conditions that the people struggled with. He learned the sting of hunger as he lived on their wages.
Now, Keady travels to colleges around the country to spread the word about Nike with the hope of gaining support of student and affecting change. He taught us that just through tweeting and emailing, we can build a community that can make a difference. He even gave us the email of Nike’s CEO! His hope is that if we can improve worker’s rights in Indonesia, we will have a model to improve customs in factories in other countries and other companies.
To learn more about Keady’s activism, visit here: http://educatingforjustice.org/.