Jordan and Nike's workers
I am a great fan of Michael Jordan -- both for his amazing athletic skills and for his off-court (and off-diamond, and off-fairway) deeds of public goodwill. However, for years, I have been concerned with statements from Jordan dismissing the plight of the workers who make Nike apparel and shoes.
While Jordan has made tens of millions of endorsement dollars from Nike, the typical worker in a Nike factory is not paid a living wage, labors 12 to 16 hours a day in sweatshop conditions and has his or her rights to participate in a union suppressed. The great majority of these workers are young women, and many are children. They earn as little as US$1 per day.
As a primary target for human rights advocates and unions around the world, Nike finally admitted the problems in its factories in 1998, making promises. However, six years down the road, change has yet to come. The amount that Nike has spent on public relations and Jordan's paycheck far outstrip money the company has spent to improve conditions for workers.
Of course, Jordan is not directly responsible for these working conditions. However, when Jordan says things like "I don't know the complete situation. Why should I? I'm trying to do my job. Hopefully, Nike will do the right thing," he is denying the complicit role that he, and all of us who purchase Nike's products, play in this exploitation.
So don't blame it on Mike alone, but don't ignore his role and his enormous influence and power to make change.
Your report about Nike ("Nike apologizes for Jordan visit fiasco," May 29, page 1) has evoked my concerns about the company's image and reputation.
I have learned that Nike is a company that uses various gimmicks, and is good at public relations. It is good at using celebrities for promoting sales. Nike can spend large amounts of money publicizing its products. But in spite of the prices of its shoes, this doesn't mean that the higher the prices are, the more durable the products are. People who know about business or management know that the cost of making Nike's products is actually low.
It has been over one week since the argument started between Michael Jordan's fans and Nike about Jordan's appearance in Taipei, and Nike missed the best moment to resolve the situation. I am glad to find that Nike finally apologized for the Jordan visit fiasco. As a big international sports company, Nike Taiwan is responsible for being a good host to an important guest, but the company also disappointed thousands of Jordan's fans, which might harm Jordan's image. This ruins the reputation of Nike, which has been built up over a long period of time.
This event should remind Nike and other companies of the fact that image and reputation are not based on appearances but on the sincerity and credibility of a company or enterprise.
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