The new free-trade heel: Nike’s profits jump on the backs of Asian workers

Jeffrey Ballinger, The new free-trade heel: Nike’s profits jump on the backs of Asian workers. Harper’s Magazine, August 1992. “Her only name is Sadisah, and it’s safe to say that she’s never heard of Michael Jordan. Nor is she spending her evenings watching him and his Olympic teammates gliding and dunking in prime time from Barcelona [1992]. But she has heard of the shoe company he endorses–Nike, whose logo can be seen on the shoes and uniforms of many American Olympic athletes this summer. Like Jordan, Sadisah works on behalf of Nike. You won’t see her, however, in the flashy TV images of freedom and individuality that smugly command us to JUST DO IT!–just spend upward of $130 for a pair of basketball shoes. Yet Sadisah is, in fact, one of the people who is doing it–making the actual shoes…

Update: Max Nisen, How Nike Solved Its Sweatshop Problem. Business Insider, 9 May 2013. “It wasn’t that long ago that Nike was being shamed in public for its labor practices to the point where it badly tarnished the company’s image and hurt sales. The recent factory collapse in Bangladesh was a reminder that even though Nike managed to turn around its image, large parts of the industry still haven’t changed much at all. Nike was an early target for the very reason it’s been so successful. Its business model was based on outsourcing its manufacturing, using the money it saved on aggressive marketing campaigns. Nike has managed to turn its image around. Nike hasn’t been completely successful in bringing factories into line, but there’s no denying that the company has executed one of the greatest image turnarounds in recent decades.”

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