Important sign-on letter to Nike for reinstatement of fired union member
From Campaign for Labor Rights <email@example.com>, posted 30 October 1999
WHY THIS LETTER NOW?
The sign-on letter in this alert marks a turning point in the 9-year international campaign to win justice for Nike workers. Beginning with Haryanto's case, Campaign for Labor Rights is concentrating its Nike campaign efforts on promoting worker empowerment.
Haryanto, who recently concluded a 10-state speaking tour on the East Coast of the U.S., is an officer in a union federation representing shoe and garment workers in a number of Nike factories in Indonesia. The demand for his reinstatement represents far more than winning justice for one worker: It is a test case for whether Nike will live up to its stated commitment to respect the right of its workers to take part in union activities.
The emergence of an independent union federation representing Nike workers in Indonesia is a watershed development. Nike preferentially sites its production in countries where it can count on the government to repress worker organizing.
Within the past year or two, a small space has begun to open up for unions independent of Indonesian government control. International solidarity is particularly important now, since these unions are taking enormous risks in stepping forward to assert their rights.
Indonesia is a nation in flux. Supporting Nike worker empowerment through freedom of association and collective bargaining has important implications for the sport shoe and garment industries and for democratization in Indonesia, the fourth largest country in the world in terms of population.
USING THIS LETTER AS AN ORGANIZING TOOL
This is not just another sign-on letter. This is the start of a campaign for reinstatement of a key union organizer. It is the first stage of a larger campaign to promote empowerment of Nike workers, with an initial concentration on Indonesia.
We urge local organizers - whether you are solidarity activists, unionists, students, members of communities of faith or other constituencies - to take Haryanto's story to your communities and campuses. As we enter the HOLIDAY SEASON, there will be many opportunities to promote the campaign for Haryanto's reinstatement. Please consider any or all of the following modes of activity (and more) in organizing around his case:
The following section of this alert explains how to sign on to the letter electronically and also provides information on where to send letters on which you have gathered petition-style signatures. PLEASE keep us informed about activities in your community in support of the campaign to seek the reinstatement of Haryanto. Thank you for your work!
WHERE TO SEND THE SIGNATURES
If you would like your signature added to the following letter to Nike, please send the following information (NOT this entire alert!) to Campaign for Labor Rights by mail (1247 "E" Street SE, Washington, DC 20003), email <CLR@igc.org> or fax (541) 431-0523 by December 20, 1999:
I am signing on to the Nike letter.
SIGN-ON LETTER TO NIKE
Philip H. Knight
Dear Mr. Knight
I am writing to seek the reinstatement of a union organizer who was unjustly fired from PT Lintas, a Nike shoe factory in Indonesia. Haryanto [complete name] belongs to PERBUPAS, a union organizing Nike workers. From September 28 through October 19, 1999, U.S. audiences in more than 20 cities heard his remarkable testimony, included as an attachment to this letter.
In 1996 Haryanto lost two fingers because of a defective machine which already had maimed 5 other workers and later would injure still two more before being repaired. In compensation, he received $150 - the price of one high-end pair of Nike shoes. Seeking justice, Haryanto turned to the government-controlled union in the shoe factory where he was employed. He soon discovered that the purpose of that "union" was to put down worker unrest.
Haryanto founded a real union in his factory. PERBUPAS is independent of government control. One of Haryanto's responsibilities was to distribute Nike's code of conduct to other workers. [During the time that Haryanto worked there, the Lintas factory went from being an Adidas contractor to producing for Nike.]
In 1998 Haryanto lost his job because of his union activities. Officially, the reason for terminating him was that his injury had made him less productive. However, the real reason became clear when Haryanto was offered a position in another factory if he would leave the union. The Nike representative in Indonesia refused to intervene with the factory on Haryanto's behalf.
Nike is a founding member of the Fair Labor Association, whose code requires participating companies to respect the right of freedom of association (the right to join a union) and also commits them to be responsible for the labor practices of their contractors. In spite of this commitment, Nike has never lifted a finger to pressure its contractors to reinstate Haryanto or any other unionist fired for organizing.
Throughout his speaking tour, Haryanto asked people in the United States to contact the Nike company and seek reinstatement for himself and other PERBUPAS members fired for their union activities.
Recently, Nike disclosed the names and addresses of 41 factories in 11 countries where it produces apparel for five of the universities with which it has licensing agreements to make apparel with those schools' logos. This was an important and positive step forward for Nike.
Now that your company has begun the process of informing the public about the location of its factories, human rights organizations will make contact with unions in those countries, to determine whether they are organizing in the Nike factories and whether your contractors are respecting workers' right to freedom of association.
Mr. Knight, you have often wondered aloud what it would take to satisfy your critics around the world. The one policy - more than any other - which would demonstrate a sincere desire to behave justly toward your workers is to respect their right to participate in real unions free of government or company control. The best way for Nike to settle its labor problems is to have its contractors deal with the workers themselves, through their unions. Rehiring fired organizers, recognizing independent unions as the legitimate representatives of the workers and bargaining a fair contract with those unions are the essential ingredients of such a policy.
Seeing to the reinstatement of Haryanto, without restrictions on his union membership, would be a good start. I hope to learn in the near future that you have done so.
Attachment: Haryanto's testimony