Nike critics voice hopes and reservations
May 13, 1998

Nike, whose Asian workers already enjoy the highest standard of empty promises of any in the industry, unveiled yet another initiative yesterday in a long-standing effort to clean up its tarnished image. Reactions from human rights advocates ranged from cautiously optimistic to cautiously pessimistic.

Here, point by point, are the terms of the new Nike announcement and a composite analysis based on discussions with Nike's critics.

1) Nike committed to "expanding its current independent monitoring programs to include non-governmental organizations (NGOs), foundations and educational institutions and making summaries of the findings public."

PLUS: This is the first time that Nike has committed to involving NGOs in the monitoring process. This is an important breakthrough. Making summaries of the findings public could be helpful.

MINUS: We don't know which NGOs Nike intends to involve. It is important that they be local, credible organizations trusted by the workers. We don't know the level of NGO involvement. Does Nike intend to keep for-profit accounting businesses in charge of monitoring, now mandating them merely to consult with NGOs, or does Nike intend to permit the NGOs a more substantive role in the monitoring process? We have to know more about how Nike intends to change its monitoring process before we can get excited about promises to got public with summaries of the findings; after all, Nike also went public with the findings of the put-up jobs done for the company by Andrew Young's organization and by the Dartmouth business school.

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2) Nike committed to "increasing the minimum age of footwear factory workers to 18, and the minimum age for all other light-manufacturing workers (apparel, accessories, equipment) to 16."

PLUS: This promise also represents an important breakthrough.

MINUS: Until we know more about what kind of monitoring Nike intends to allow, we have to be wary of such claims. When Nike was caught using Pakistani child labor in the production of soccer balls, the company had its contractor set up a stitching center where only adults would be employed. However, Nike repeatedly refused access to a monitor from the FoulBall campaign. Without verification, we have to suspect, if not assume, that soccer balls stitched by children in workshops outside the center are covertly mixed with the soccer balls stitched inside the center.

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3) Nike committed to "adopting U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) indoor air quality standards for all footwear factories."

PLUS: Human rights advocates can claim a victory in getting Nike to admit that its Asian workers have the same right to a healthy workplace as do workers in the U.S.

MINUS: Again, the key is whether Nike truly intends to permit a system of monitoring which guarantees compliance. Hopefully, after Nike implements safe air quality standards, it also will address other health and safety issues in its Asian factories.

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4) Nike commits to "expanding education programs, including middle and high school equivalency courses, for workers in all Nike footwear factories; increasing support of its current micro-enterprise loan program to 1,000 families each in Vietnam, Indonesia, Pakistan and Thailand; and funding university research and open forums to explore issues related to global manufacturing and responsible business practices such as independent monitoring and air quality standards."

PLUS: Some workers undoubtedly will find in such programs a means of escaping poverty.

MINUS: Nike still has not committed to respecting the right of its workers to receive a living wage for a normal work week. If Nike were to pay its workers decently, there would be far less need for charity measures such as micro-enterprise loan programs. As for Nike-sponsored research and forums, these probably are best viewed as infomercials.

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MEDIA COVERAGE: When Nike released the now-discredited Andrew Young report last year, the media gave it a largely one-side coverage. Older and wiser, print and electronic newspeople went straight from Knight's talk at the National Press Club yesterday to Nike's critics. It is a measure of how far the Nike campaign has come that dissident voices are now routinely part of the coverage of Nike press events.

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Q: Are we declaring a victory?

A: As noted above, some of Nike's promises represent a breakthrough and demonstrate the enormous power of grassroots activism.

Q: Will we now lay off Nike?

A: Nike has yet to commit to paying its workers a living wage. It would be unthinkable to let up the pressure on Nike as long as that issue remains unresolved. We have no intention of discontinuing our pressure on Nike until Nike's Asian workers tell us that international support is no longer needed. It is not Nike's critics in the U.S., Canada, Europe, Australia or New Zealand who have to be satisfied; it is Nike's Asian workers.

Q: Are you now going to get the rest of sport shoe industry to agree to Nike's new standards?

A: Several U.S. human rights groups will soon be discussing this question. Even if the U.S. campaign asks other sport shoe companies to commit to the same new standards announced by Nike, we are unlikely to mount a full-scale campaign directed at the rest of the industry until Nike has convincingly demonstrated that it is committed to change.

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Statement by Thuyen Nguyen, Vietnam Labor Watch, May 12:

After 18 months of criticism, Nike blinked!

Vietnam Labor Watch is glad that Mr. Knight is making a serious effort to address problems about Nike overseas labor practices in his speech today at the National Press Club in Washington DC. We recognize that the announcements made by Mr. Knight represent a substantial departure from Nike corporate practices of the past. We know that this is a direct result of an 18 month campaign by many people to bring Nike labor practices to the awareness of the American consumers. But Nike has broken promises before and therefore we are guardedly optimistic of Nike's willingness to improve conditions in its overseas factories.

Recent developments at Nike factories in Vietnam, however, have made it hard for us to be optimistic about immediate, genuine reform. Despite public exposures of harsh labor conditions at Nike factories, Nike has made only a few cosmetic changes. Nike factories in Vietnam are still the lowest paid of all foreign enterprises in Vietnam and have the worst working conditions. For example, Pepsi, CocaCola paid their bottle washers twice ($80/month) what sewers in Nike factories made ($40/month). Even at such low wages, Nike factories in Vietnam have been caught paying workers below the minimum wage and cheating workers out of overtime wages in 1996, 1997 and even in 1998. Just last month, 3000 Nike factory workers have been fired due to a lack of production order even though they were forced to work many hours of overtime during the first three months of 1998 to meet production quotas.

Last March, another Nike factory worker in Vietnam was physically abused by a supervisor. She was hit on the head and dragged by the collar for about one hundred feet because she accidentally bumped into the factory security manager. This same worker was hit on the head in a separate incident in March 1996. Nike responded by fining the factory security manager a meager $100 and send the woman a letter of apology. Two weeks ago, a Nike factory worker, Lap Nguyen, who cooperated with ESPN, was forced to resign. After the ESPN program, "Outside the Line", went on the air, this woman was grilled by factory managers for speaking with ESPN. She was demoted to cleaning the toilet from a team leader position. After many bouts of threats and deliberate humiliation of this woman, the Nike factory forced her to sign a letter of resignation.

Considering the severity of the above problems, will Nike CEO, Phil Knight, address the situation with meaningful reforms at the factories level? The jury is still out. We will continue our monitoring effort to ensure that Nike is keeping the promises it made today to the American consumers and the workers in Vietnam.

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Statement by Jeff Ballinger: Press for Change, May 12 (edited for length by CLR):

Observations + comments on Phil Knight's appearance at National Press Club

Knight started off by tossing a barb at Garry Trudeau and returned often to the assertion that Nike's critics are out of touch with the production scene in Asia, unwilling to give the company credit for "uplifting of impoverished people."

As for the substance of Knight's remarks, it should be noted that he backtracked a little on the issue of independent monitoring. The monitoring statement in Nike's press materials was rather encouraging, but he had a bit of trouble articulating a clear time-frame for implementation. Health and safety issues were clearly addressed, however.

In talks with the media, I've been emphasizing what an extraordinary event this was and how it has given quite a boost to our long-running agitation on the independent monitoring issue. This must be seen as an admission that the E+Y "monitoring" failed to allay concerns that Codes were enforced. We need to point out, however, that Nike has made many pledges in the past and there was no commitment to target dates for finding NGO partners.

Knight failed to satisfactorily address the wage issue, though it was raised in at least three questions from the floor. The Nike handout is very misleading on the subject, claiming that only 38% of workers at Indonesian shoe factories earn only minimum wage. This, of course, could mean that another 60% are earning only pennies more per day than the minimum (my educated guess). It should be pointed out that, given the chance, Nike will often make unreasonable claims about labor costs. Last March, for example, they claimed in a Philadelphia Inquirer story that $3.37 went to the workers who made a $90 (retail) pair of Nikes in Vietnam. I'd put the figure down at about 85 cents.

Knight talked a lot about "Silakot" Pakistan and getting kids out of the soccer-ball stitching operations. It's Sialkot, Phil. I don't have first-hand knowledge of the situation there but I believe his glowing report is a bit overstated. Might be worth checking in with the UNICEF folks out there, if they're willing to talk.

Lots to be upbeat about. I've been saying two things have precipitated this: 1) increased student activism (Apparel Industry Partnership is no longer providing sufficient "cover" for embattled university officials) and, 2) Nike must be seeing market research data that shows that the sweatshop issue is beginning to affect sales (they denied this in the Q & A).


May 13, 1998

This addendum includes statements from
1) Transnational Resource & Action Center
2) Global Exchange
and 3) Contact information for organizations which have provided statements for this addendum and for the initial analysis
1) Statement from Transnational Resource & Action Center, May 12

Nike's "New Labor Initiatives": An Important First Step Down A Long Road

Nike's announcement today of "New Labor Initiatives" is an important step by the shoe company but only a partial victory for workers and for people concerned about sweatshops around the world.

Nike has finally admitted to the public that conditions in its factories need to be drastically improved. This is a first step (and one long in coming) which will hopefully begin a process to transform these conditions. However, Nike must travel much further down the road they have apparently set out upon, before many of these pronouncements fulfill their potential and workers or consumers see the benefits.

Nike's announcement today also raises a number of questions. Nike's commitment to an "expanded independent monitoring system" is both vague and potentially deceptive. Nike claims their new program will "include NGO participation" without explaining the roles, responsibilities, or access NGOs will be granted. NGOs should not "participate" in monitoring, they should lead monitoring. Human rights, labor, and religious groups that speak the local language, have the trust of workers, and have the technical capacity to conduct monitoring would be the best candidates for independent monitors, not accounting or consulting firms.

Phil Knight unfortunately does not seem to understand the concept of independent monitoring of labor and environmental practices. He hopes for a system functioning "in much the same manner [as] financial audits." Labor practices simply cannot be analyzed the same way that a company's accounts can be audited. Workers must be interviewed away from the factory about sensitive issues. Research must be conducted into the conditions which exist on the days the inspectors are not at the plant. Monitoring must be both technically rigorous and politically sophisticated.

TRAC's release of an Ernst & Young audit of a Nike factory in Vietnam shows clearly that accounting firms are not the right groups to do labor and environmental monitoring. They are not trained to do this kind of work. They are not trusted by workers. And they are not truly independent.

Furthermore, Nike's commitment to adopt US OSHA air quality standards for all its footwear factories is an important, much needed, and long overdue step. Plans for conducting air testing are similarly important. However, adopting standards and taking samples are only the first steps towards improving factory conditions. Policies must be turned into practices. Workers must be trained. Standards must be monitored and enforced. Outside inspectors must be allowed to independently monitor factory compliance.

Wage issues are also unfortunately glossed over in Nike's announcement. Reference to the Tuck School study, which has been thoroughly discredited in the US, shows that Nike is still not willing to address wage issues in a serious manner. Nike also ignores the critical issues of worker representation and the right to organize.

Nike's "New Labor Initiatives" are an important step. But the company must realize that for the American public "there is no finish line" when it comes to the treatment of workers. Nike must move beyond words and commit to make the technical and managerial changes necessary to improve the health and safety of its workers, while implementing truly independent monitoring to verify that these changes are real and lasting.

2) Statement from Global Exchange, May 13

Global Exchange's Public Response to Nike's New Labor Initiatives

On May 12 Nike CEO Philip Knight announced "New Labor Initiatives" for improving their labor practices. The Initiatives are a testament to the power of workers and consumers joining together - in protest of sweatshop conditions - to bring about much needed changes. It is no accident the announcement comes on the heels of a series of actions including, but not exclusive to: the 2nd International Nike Day of Protest on April 18, University Codes and student organizing, the California law suit, two year's worth of letter-writing, a sharp decline in stock prices, and the release of Michael Moore's film, The Big One.

Of course, admitting the problem is only the first step to recovery. Workers must be paid livable wages (deliberately left out of the Initiatives), policies must be turned into practices, workers must be trained, and standards must be monitored by local non-governmental organizations who speak the language and have the trust of workers.

We are at a crossroads in this struggle - Nike is finally talking the talk, but the responsibility falls on all of us to make sure they walk the walk. Words without action in Nike's world, quickly become a Public Relations Smokescreen. We must sustain pressure in order to force the company to commit to paying workers a living wage, make the technical and managerial changes necessary to implement the Initiatives, allow human rights NGOs to verify compliance with the new Initiatives, and promote conditions that allow workers to freely organize to protect their basic rights. The following are our specific responses to some of the Initiatives:

1. Expand independent monitoring to include non-governmental organizations and make summaries of the findings public.

For several years, anti-sweatshop campaigners have been pressuring garment and shoe companies to allow local, respected human rights and labor groups to monitor factory conditions. We know of only one case - the GAP in El Salvador - where a company has agreed to this. This makes Nike's announcement extremely significant. It is important, however, to get more clarity from Nike. What NGOs will they be working with? What roles, responsibilities and access will the NGOs be granted? In terms of the reports the monitors will issue, we applaud Nike's statement that summaries of these reports will be made public. However, it is critical that enough information be released in these summaries to give an accurate picture of factory performance.

2. Strengthening Environmental, Health and Safety Performance.

Nike's announcement that they will adopt U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) indoor air quality standards is a very significant step. Equally important are Nike's plans to accelerate a program to replace petroleum-based solvents with safer water-based compounds, and its plans to create more "eco-effective" products. We are curious to see how and when these standards will be enforced.

3. Expand education programs, including middle and high school equivalency courses, for workers in all Nike footwear factories.

In principle, such an educational program, which Nike states will be developed with input from workers, offers a great opportunity for workers to improve their future employment options by furthering their education while on the job. The statement that Nike will encourage contractors to offer pay increases to those who complete the program is not as good as requiring them to do so. Also, the two pilot programs in Vietnam that Nike references seem to be opportunities available to office workers in the factory and not factory workers themselves. The uneven work schedules which include long overtime hours during peak seasons coupled with familial obligations, leave factory workers little time for studying. Overtime issues and wages (see below) must therefore be addressed before factory workers can really take advantage of such educational opportunities.

4. Addressing wages.

Substandard wages keep factory workers in poverty and force them to work excessive amounts of overtime to fulfill their basic needs. Nike refused to acknowledge its responsibility to pay workers a living wage. Right now, Nike has only committed itself to paying the local minimum wage, which is too often set below subsistence needs as countries compete to attract foreign investment. Nike has also indicated they would offer a pay raise to workers in Indonesia to offset the economic crisis but refused to give any numbers. In China and Vietman, most factory workers are paid about $1.60 a day, and in Indonesia the economic crisis has reduced workers' pay to under $1.00 a day. Raising workers' wages to $3.00 per day would give workers local purchasing power, the ability to cope with currency devaluation, and the ability to accumulate a small savings.

5. The right to organize.

This is an area that was totally left out of Mr. Knight's announcement. In China, Indonesia and Vietnam - the three countries where Nike makes the majority of its shoes - workers are denied the basic right to organize independent unions. In all three countries, there is one government-sponsored union and efforts to create independent unions are squashed. Given this situation, Nike should commit itself to working with the international human rights community to pressure local governments to release jailed labor leaders and change labor laws and practices to reflect internationally recognized labor rights. Nike should also work at the factory level to create the space for representative worker councils and for educating workers about international labor rights.


We look forward to working with Nike and other shoe companies in this historic effort to raise human rights standards for the entire industry. Nike met our short-term goals of admitting the problem and accepting the responsibility to clean up. Next, we will continue to urge the company to pay living wages and by doing so, set a good example for other companies to follow suit. Loosely translated: It's time for all the other players to step up to the plate.

3) Contact information

Vietnam Labor Watch: Press for Change: Transnational Resource & Action Center: Global Exchange:


Representatives of unions were rebuffed in Indonesia by corporations attending meeting of Business for Social Responsibility!

May 14, 1998

This alert includes two press releases by the International Textile, Garment and Leather Workers Federation (ITGLWF)

1) "Nike not off the hook by a long stretch," warns international trade union body
2) Multinationals demonstrate contempt for Indonesian workers and
3) An article from today's (Portland) Oregonian newspaper

1) "Nike Not off the Hook by a Long Stretch," Warns International Trade Union Body

[The following is a May 13 press release of the International Textile, Garment and Leather Workers Federation.The ITGLWF is an International Trade Secretariat bringing together 219 affiliated organizations in 120 countries with a combined membership of 8.5 million workers.]

The international union representing workers in the textile and footwear sector has greeted with scepticism Nike's announcement that it would improve working conditions in Asian factories.

Nike is "tinkering at the edges" said Neil Kearney, General Secretary of the Brussels-based International Textile, Garment and Leather Workers Federation. His comment came in response to Phil Knight's announcement on Tuesday that Nike would comply with workplace air quality standards, allow the independent monitoring of factories and raise the minimum age of workers.

"What is needed is for Nike to pay a living wage to cover basic costs and some discretionary income," said Kearney. "Criticism won't go away until it does so."

"I would feel more confident in Nike's commitment to change if a company executive in Jakarta hadn't rudely turned his back on a delegation of trade unionists last week," explained Kearney.

Union leaders were given the brush-off by a company representative as they tried to explain the devastating effects on workers of the country's economic crisis, and the need for an urgent wage increase. "Indonesia is in crisis, and workers' purchasing power has dropped by 60% due to devaluation and inflation. Meanwhile, Nike's labour costs have dropped dramatically. Yet Nike couldn't even be bothered to stop and talk to representatives of the workers who produce their goods in that country," said Kearney.

"Nike must now sit down with representatives of workers locally, nationally and internationally and work out a strategy to secure their protection," stressed Kearney.

Kearney also denies Nike's assertion that it is contributing to the wages and skills of Asian workers. "If anything, Nike contractors are a burden on the economy of developing countries. Governments provide the infrastructure, agree not to levy taxes, and provide rent and services at preferential rates. In exchange, Nike contractors provide insecure jobs that pay starvation wages," he concluded.

2) Multinationals Demonstrate Contempt for Indonesian Workers

[The following is a May 13 press release of the International Textile, Garment and Leather Workers Federation.]

Some of the world's top garment and footwear companies operating in Indonesia have been accused of demonstrating contempt for the workers who manufacture their branded goods.

Neil Kearney, General Secretary of the Brussels-based International Textile, Garment and Leather Workers' Federation, has today written to Eddie Bauer, The Gap, Levi Strauss, Liz Claibourne, Nike, Polo/Ralph Lauren, Mattel, Reebok, and Walt Disney, criticising their arrogance in refusing to talk to union leaders.

The protest came after executives of nine major corporations, who had gathered in Jakarta last Thursday for a meeting of Business for Social Responsibility, rejected an invitation from trade union leaders to hear first-hand the devastating effects on workers of the country's economic crisis, and the need for an urgent wage increase. The purchasing power of Indonesian workers has dropped by 60% due to devaluation and inflation.

Indonesia's two major unions, FSPSI and SBSI, had contacted the companies well in advance to ask for a meeting. None of them accepted. Undeterred by the brush-off, a joint delegation conveyed a message to the meeting, requesting a hearing. When there was again no response, they tried to engage the corporate officials in a calm discussion as they were leaving the meeting. While some executives did stop to talk informally, others brushed past the delegation without listening to what they had to say.

Says Kearney: "For years these companies have been making huge profits on the backs of low-paid Indonesian workers. Yet at a time when the country is in crisis and suffering great hardship, they aren't even prepared to talk to the representatives of those workers."

Among those who slipped away without comment was the Nike representative. "It seems that Nike has learnt nothing from increasing criticism it is subject to in every part of the world. If companies continue to behave in this way, it is inevitable that their sales will be affected, as will their stock value," comments Kearney

"The wages of Indonesian workers make up a tiny fraction of the cost of a pair of garments or sports shoes marketed by these companies. In fact, labour costs are now much lower as a result of the country's economic collapse," he adds.

The international labour leader rejects the argument that the merchandising companies are just buyers who don't control what goes on in the factories of their suppliers: "It is the multinationals who have created the cut-throat environment in which suppliers vying for contracts are tempted to cut labour costs. Their influence over their contractors is decisive. Buyers know the price they pay for each operation, and they must factor a living wage into the price they pay contractors for each order."

3) Workers Wary Nike Reforms Will Fit

The scope of Phil Knight's promises elude Indonesians with more immediate needs By Richard Read of The (Portland) Oregonian staff 5-14-98

TANGERANG, Indonesia - Shoe factory worker Dominguez Pirida strained Wednesday to comprehend workplace improvements pledged by Nike Chairman Phil Knight, a man whom he'd vaguely heard of half a world away. Better air quality inside plants sounded good. Improved independent monitoring of Nike's contract factories seemed fine. But high school classes, small-business loans, university research and increased minimum ages of workers seemed hardly relevant to Pirida's main desires: better pay, honest supervisors and decent restrooms.

"What can you expect from something grand like this from Nike?" Pirida said. "Factory managers lie so often, I don't think I can trust it." Master marketer Nike Inc. faces a tough sales job for its factory-improvement program, judging by skeptical reactions Wednesday from Indonesian workers who make sneakers for the Beaverton company.

Workers in Tangerang, a gritty factory town outside Jakarta, are traumatized by massive layoffs, skyrocketing prices and protests, riots and killings sweeping Indonesia. The Southeast Asian nation, which until recently enjoyed rapid economic growth, is the worst victim of the Asian monetary crisis that began last summer. Soldiers and police shot to death six people Tuesday amid demonstrations calling for the resignation of President Suharto, a 76-year-old dictator whose family members control much of the economy through lucrative monopolies.

Knight's promises, made Tuesday at a National Press Club luncheon in Washington, D.C., strike many Indonesians as far-fetched and remote as this nation veers toward insolvency and revolution. The lukewarm reception also points up wide cultural gaps between East and West and the extent to which even the most well-meaning attempts to help can fall flat in translation.

"I don't really know what to think of Phil Knight," said Pirida, a seven-year factory veteran who supports a wife and child. "Even during Nike's heyday, the wage increases were meager."

Nike, the world's largest athletic footwear and apparel company, posted $9.1 billion in sales last year. But demand has slowed for its products, and stock prices have dropped, resulting in layoffs of 1,600 Nike employees. That does not include the workers who have lost their jobs at factories operated by contractors.

Nike has been dogged by continued reports of abusive conditions in the independently owned Asian factories where many of its products are made. Critics have protested low wages, long hours and working conditions they say are inhumane.

Workers at P.T. Hasi, a sprawling South Korean-Indonesian footwear plant that until recently employed 12,000 people in Tangerang, say they're tired of strikes, wage disputes and uncertainty about what they see as a declining industry. Many are ready to quit the factory, which is running at less than 70 percent of capacity with 8,500 workers. To Indonesian labor activists, Knight's initiatives appear convenient for Nike as its work force shrinks worldwide. They say the package seems crafted to appeal more to Westerners than to workers.

Activists react cautiously Activists in Jakarta reacted cautiously compared with longtime Nike critics in the United States, who praised Knight's programs. "Saying and doing are two different things, so we will wait for the realization of these plans," said Indera Nababan, who heads Urban Community Mission, an Indonesian labor activist group.

Some lack of enthusiasm in Indonesia might result from the inability of many workers to grasp the full meaning of Knight's plan. Nike launched an elaborate factory training program to explain its Code of Conduct, a set of standards governing working conditions and compensation. Knight's new initiatives also will need full explanation before workers and managers can understand their implications.

Yet some workers welcome Nike's package. Despite deep distrust of factory managers, they said they were ready to give the sneaker giant the benefit of the doubt. "It sounds great, but it still depends whether the factory will really implement it," said Yunianti, a 24-year-old woman who has worked at Hasi for five years.

Yunianti, who like many Indonesians uses only one name, prepares Nike outsoles for attachment to midsoles. She earns about $24 a month at current exchange rates. Since Indonesia's rupiah has lost much of its value against the dollar recently because of Asia's economic turmoil, wages at the shoe factories have fallen in dollar terms. More important to workers, prices have surged, reducing their buying power.

Yunianti said most workers at Hasi had completed secondary school and were older than 18, meaning that high school equivalency classes and an increased minimum age would mean little. Fumes haven't bothered her since the factory provided proper masks two months ago, so improved air-quality standards don't strike her as important.

Worker dreams of moving on Yunianti dreams of quitting the factory, marrying and living in a house, instead of the leaky 10-foot-square room she shares with two other workers. But she doubts she could pay back a loan of the sort Nike plans to offer women who start small businesses. "I would like the company to provide drinks in the factory and also bathrooms with running water," Yunianti said. "There's always a long line for the bathroom."

Knight didn't mention restrooms in his Press Club talk. But another worker, Amin Chaerudin, 23, also listed toilets far above air quality and hazardous solvents as concerns to address.

Other workers have a simple request for Knight, one he might have particular trouble fulfilling as demand slows for Nike shoes. "Tell him we don't need rules and regulations, we need as many orders as possible for shoes," said Endang, 22, a three-year Hasi worker. She misses the overtime pay she earned during Nike's boom times. Hasi joined other Nike contract factories in boosting wages April 1, adding an emergency increase of about $3 to monthly pay in response to Indonesia's recent price boosts. But prices are rising so fast in the country -- fuel just jumped 70 percent -- that they dwarf the pay increase.

Pirida, the seven-year worker, doesn't plan to wait around for Nike's improvements. With a 4-year-old daughter, the middle-school dropout figures it's too late for free classes and other programs. Factory work wasn't Pirida's idea in the first place. A foundation sponsored by Suharto's eldest daughter, Tutut, lured him from East Timor to Tangerang with the promise of a university education, only to place him in Hasi.

Pirida's wife, Maria Yasinta, glued midsoles in the plant until four years ago, when she fell ill for three months after fumes made her dizzy. He pressed molds until squashing his left thumb. He now loads trucks at the plant.

The couple plan soon to leave their 9-by-12-foot apartment, take their daughter, Kristina, and travel three days and three nights to East Timor. There they will settle in Balibo, the remote village of less then 4,000 people that Pirida hasn't seen for seven years. Pirida hopes to use his severance pay to start a business shipping traditional textiles to Jakarta. It's an ambitious undertaking in this shattered economy. "Everything," Pirida said, "has come too late."

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