As international attention has focused on Colin Kaepernick’s Nike ad, activists and many on social media have pointed to the well-documented low wages, long hours and poor working conditions many who make the global corporation’s products endure.
“Activists, organizers and leaders sometimes make mistakes, and I think [Kaepernick] made a mistake by aligning himself with a company that exploits workers and breaks unions,” Rosa Clemente, an activist and political commentator, told The New York Times this week. “It’s not just a capitalist company — it’s a hyper-capitalist company.”
Nike’s new campaign, which commemorates the 30th anniversary of its iconic “Just Do It” slogan, features the former NFL, with the lines: “Believe in something. Even if it means sacrificing everything.” One meme shared on social media has played on the ad’s message, changing out Kaepernick’s image for one of a young woman working in what appears to be a Nike factory. The slogan is the same, but at the bottom, the image says: “Just do it, for $0.23 per hour.”
The amount factory workers earn making Nike products varies depending on the facility and the country. Nike did not immediately respond to Newsweek ’s request for comment and clarification about how much it pays workers on average.
However, a June report from the Clean Clothes Campaign (CCC) alleged that factory workers today receive even less of Nike profits than they did in the 1990s.
“The share of production costs of Nike and Adidas shoes that ends up in a worker’s pocket is now a staggering 30 percent less than in the early 1990s (2.5 percent in 2017 for Nike shoes compared with 4 percent in 1995),” the organization said, Reuters reported. According to CCC, the company has transferred much of its manufacturing to Indonesia, Cambodia and Vietnam as wages have increased in China.