Members of the Student Labor Action Coalition held a demonstration Monday protesting UW-Madison’s main licensing partner, saying it fails to give severance pay to recently unemployed factory workers.
The demonstration was a response to an Indonesian factory contracted by Nike and UW partner Adidas that closed abruptly in January, leaving 2,800 workers jobless. Legally, the companies still owe employees $1.8 million of the original $3.3 million in monetary compensation for the factory’s closure.
SLAC member Jonah Zinn said Nike paid a portion of the money to its workers but said adidas has to pay the rest of it.
SLAC members symbolically cut a cake with an adidas logo on it to demonstrate a proposed university split from the company if it does not pay its workers.
Vice Chancellor for University Relations Vince Sweeney said the university developed a relationship with adidas under the condition the company would comply with the university’s code of conduct, which includes fair labor rights.
He said before the university takes action, all the facts need to be presented and checked for accuracy.
This is not the first time Chancellor David Ward has seen protests over labor violations at UW-Madison. Under his previous term as chancellor SLAC and other activists forced the university to join the Workers Rights Consortium after citing Reebok’s labor violations.
“We want to make sure it stays that way,” Zinn said. “We want to know Chancellor Ward is taking this issue seriously, and we’d like to know that he is making proactive actions.”
Zinn said SLAC believes the university should give adidas 90 days to pay its workers. If it does not meet this deadline, Zinn said the university should terminate its contract with the company.
“The only way we’re going to see results in this case is by putting institutional pressure on adidas,” Zinn said.
CORRECTION: Adidas and Nike owe $1.8 million dollars to workers. They do not owe 1.8 million employees monetary compensation.