Low Wages Essays and Research Papers

Instructions for Low Wages College Essay Examples

Title: Race to the Bottom Social clause refers

  • Total Pages: 6
  • Words: 1917
  • Bibliography:3
  • Citation Style: APA
  • Document Type: Essay
Essay Instructions: please answer question below for labour studies - workers and the economy

Many scholars suggest that an intensified economic exchange between North and South would trigger a ?race to the bottom,? which would mean that eventually, workers all over the world would earn the same low wages that workers in the South currently earn. Do you think that there is such a race to the bottom? Why or why not?

assignment, which covers the concepts presented in Unit 5, asks you to prepare an essay response (approximately 1600-1700 words or about six, typed/word-processed pages)

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Grandy, S. (1998). "New Jersey Corporate Chartermongering, 1875-1929." The Journal of Economic History 49 (3): 677-692.

Rudra, N. (2008). Globalization and the Race to the Bottom in Developing Countries: Who Really Gets Hurt. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Tonelson, A. (2002). The Race to the Bottom: Why A Worldwide Worker Surplus and Uncontrolled Free Trade Are Sinking America Living Standards. New York: Basic Books.

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Title: I 10 pages revised version Section 1 Section 1 Abstract Halkias 2004 stated Wal Mart accused preferential treatment lack equal opportunity females Wal Mart employees concentrating ethics violations Duke

  • Total Pages: 15
  • Words: 5383
  • Sources:25
  • Citation Style: MLA
  • Document Type: Research Paper
Essay Instructions: ( I would like 10 pages on the revised version of Section 1.)
(Section 1) Abstract
Halkias (2004) stated that Wal-Mart has been accused of preferential treatment of some and the lack of equal opportunity for others (females).
Wal-Mart is seen by its employees for not concentrating on its ethics violations (Duke vs. Wal-Mart). Wal-Mart has addressed the problem of keeping unions out with great zeal, drags out ligation employees can not afford in court.
Unions continue to fight for employees rights with little success. It has been noted that the Class Action Lawsuit (Duke vs. Wal-Mart) has advanced out of the House of Representatives and now goes to the Senate for final approval, this bill will address employee rights to choose or not choose unions.
Wal-Mart?s policies and directives have huge consequences when not followed, managers and board members carry out these policies with out ever asking questions.
Wal-Mart?s grievance procedures are of little help to employees, and when the file a grievance, usually the find retaliation and are eventually fired.
Employees that have no other alternative for grieving their case usually just accept what ever is handed down. Employees with no other avenues for jobs and have families will not file grievance or make trouble. Cox (2001) stated employees say that the grievance system, the policy of the ?open door policy? was actually used against them, to identify ?troublemakers? so that they could be targeted for termination.
Example: The current large class action suit is named for Betty Duke and the story reflects the inadequacy of Wal-Mart policies to address equity and other conflict: ?Betty Duke, a 52-year-old African-American woman who still works at Wal-Mart. First hired by the company in 1994 as a part-time cashier in Pittsburg, California, she was an eager employee with a sincere admiration for founder Sam Walton's "visionary spirit."
A year later, with excellent performance reviews, she was given a merit pay raise and a full-time job. Two years later, after being promoted to the position of customer service manager, she began encountering harsh discrimination from her superiors; she says she was denied the training she needed in order to advance further, while that same training was given to male employees.
When Dukes complained about the discrimination, managers got back at her by writing her up for minor offenses like returning late from breaks, offenses routinely committed by her white and male co-workers, who were never punished, she says. When she kept complaining, she was denied a promotion and finally demoted back to her cashier job. She went to the Wal-Mart district office to complain, but the company did nothing. Being demoted was not just humiliating: It deprived Dukes of other promotions, and her cashier job offered fewer hours and a lower hourly wage. When she was once again eligible for promotion, four new management positions, none of which had even been posted, were filled by men? (Featherstone, 2004). This indicates that it has been impossible to work out conflict management through established Wal-Mart channels.
Deborah Gunter was working at Riverside, California for thirty years always being faithful to Wal-Mart, but when she when against Wal-Mart?s policies and procedures she soon found out where she really stood. Deborah Gunter was transferred to the Tire Lube Express Department and did the work faithfully, even training a male employee in her department that eventually took over her responsibilities, when she complained her hours were reduced and eventually fired (Featherstone, 2004). Wal-Mart continues to violate ethics of its employees with little regard for government intervention, but that is about to change.
Section 1: Foundation of the Study
The Foundation of this study centers on Wal-Mart?s disregard for human dignity and continued violations of employee rights and morale. Wal-Mart has little regard for lawsuits and the organization and top management hire employees with no education or experience, and when employees complain its usually their last complaint at the retailing giant. On behalf of 1.6 million women who worked at Wal-Mart from 1998 to 2001 Betty Duke has filed a class action lawsuit that eventually made it all the way up to the Highest Court in the United States and is known as (Betty Dukes vs. Wal-Mart Stores, 2004)
Background of the Problem
If you were hired by Wal-Mart would you feel comfortable knowing that this giant retailer has a bounty on your head if you die in the form of Death Benefits that Wal-Mart only enjoys when you pass on?
The (Betty Duke vs. Wal-Mart Stores, Inc, 2004) class action lawsuit brings out more dark secret company policy issues that Wal-Mart has been hiding from their consumers and the public. This issues will take center stage when the United States Senate takes up the issue of unionization of employees rights to choose their union or not. At center is the ethics violations that employees have endured throughout their employment with the retailing giant, loss of dignity and morale by female employees who have chosen to stay because there are no other job opportunities. Wal-Mart is clever at effectively shutting down competition in surrounding communities and then hiring their employees at a lesser wage. Selling products cheap and hiring workers for less is a Wal-Mart policy norm that is violating employees working ethics.
Bhatnagar (2004) wrote of ethics violations by the retaining giant that "In 1999, women constituted 72% of Wal-Mart's hourly employees, but only 33% of its managerial employees."
According to the Berkeley Women's Law Journal in (2004), Wal-Mart paid its employees about one-third less than what similarly unionized employees earn. A hourly pay violation by The Federal Fair Labor Standards Act accuses Wal-Mart of working its employees overtime, then bringing in management to adjust the time sheets. Working ethics violations still continue and employees are still suffering from the retailing giant who will stop at nothing just to make a dollar.
Wal-Mart is the largest retail store in the United States. Brownstein (2005) wrote of still more violations of Wal-Mart?s quest of reducing the costs payroll. Paying 20% percent of their weekly salary for health insurance that has no teeth is still another violation of Wal-Mart?s ethics. Brownstein stated that on average a Wal-Mart employee earns $8.00 per hour, with an average take home paycheck of about $256.00, which equates to a yearly salary of $13,312.00, when the poverty level in America is $14,630.00. Brownstein (2005) brought out more violations in the healthcare of Wal-Mart employees, stating that in the last 12 years, Wal-Mart has been raising the costs of premiums for the its Wal-Mart employees by 200%.
Featherstone (2004) wrote about Wal-Mart?s management receives handbooks upon joining the company and part of the handbook guides managers in ways to pick and choose employees along with ways to inspire them in helping keep the company union-free. The company that was founded on Sam Walton's old fashion values of putting people first seems to be at a crossroads. Do they continue down the road that has put them in this position, or does management take a good hard look at where the company is headed?
Problem Statement
One strategy that Wal-Mart practices is work hours of employees, Biddle (2004) pointed out that the retailing giant?s favorite system of keeping employees from joining unions was limiting full time employees from 40 to 32 hours per week, this prevents them from joining unions.
In addition to part-time employees not having any rights in joining unions, full-time employees are not paid over-time pay when the work extra hours. Bhatnagar (2005) inserted that Wal-Mart employees are forced to work off the clock to avoid over-time pay. These types of ethics violation has been going on for years. Sellers (2005) found that Fair Labor Standard Lawsuits have been filed in many states, some of been settled to avoid other employees from doing the same thing. Wal-Mart continues to buy clothes and other items cheap, regardless of the ethics violations, recently a story appeared on television that showed Wal-Mart buying clothes made by children who are paid next to nothing (Sellers, 2005).
Wal-Mart first came out with the slogan of satisfying the customers and employee dedication. Employee dedication was keeping the employees happy by paying them a fair wage and offering good benefits to them, this all changed when Sam Walton died, and along with him consumer and employee satisfaction.
Wal-Mart continues to violate employee rights by reducing their hours, making them part-time employees and preventing them from joining unions (Biddle, 2004).
General business problem
Wal-Mart?s general business problem is the laws passed to protect people?s rights, and that includes Wal-Mart employees, who are still suffering under Wal-Mart?s methodology of selling cheap and paying low wages. If the United States Senate passes the Employees Right to Choose Unionization or not, regardless this will give the employees the freedom to choose without fear of being fired. The Human Rights Watch said Wal-Mart has strategies that the Watch Group said is illegal and violates employee?s rights.
According to the Huston Chronicle (2002), Jane Sims never knew her husband was insured by Wal-Mart, until she discovered that Wal-Mart took out a Death Insurance Policy on him. Jane Sims never got a dime of that money, and had to pay for the funeral expenses of her beloved husband Douglas Sims who died in 1998. Wal-Mart received $64,000 from Douglas Sims death, and gave nothing to his widow.
Your specific issue/problem
Wal-Mart violations of employee working ethics and violations of their basic human rights has become an issue in every community Wal-Mart locates in. Wal-Mart is considered a business killer when it locates to these communities. Systematically closing small Mom and Pop Stores then hiring their employees for less, and in most cases part-time to prevent them from unionizing. The (Betty Duke vs. Wal-Mart Stores, Inc, 2004) sets out to change some of these violations of employee?s basic ethical rights.

Section 2: The Project ( I would like 5 pages on this project) (This project is on Wal-Mart)
Section 2 of your Prospectus is due this week. You will incorporate any feedback you have received up to this point that affects Section 2, and you will submit a revised version of Section 1.
Section 2 of the Prospectus centers on describing the project. Be sure to include the following aspects:
? Restatement of the project purpose and research question(s)
? Description of the analytical methodology
o Provide the theoretical and research foundations of the project design (methodology and context).
o Identify data that you might need to collect and a preliminary plan for collecting those data.
o Discuss statistical tools or processes you could use to analyze data.
o Identify the appropriate variables in the context of the study.
Section 1 (revised) should be approximately 8?10 pages in APA format. Section 2 should comprise 3?5 pages in APA format.

(This project is on Wal-Mart)
Section 2: The Project
Text begins here. Provide a one or two paragraph introduction to Section 2. This introduction should provide a clear outline of the Section.
Purpose Statement
Text begins here. Begin Section 2 by reminding readers of the purpose of the study. Do your best not to copy and paste word for word from Section 1; instead, vary your language slightly to keep your reader engaged but ensure facts are accurate.
Role of the Researcher
Describe the role of the researcher in the data collection process in this subsection.
Text begins here. Discuss procedures for gaining access to participants, establishing a working relationship with participants, and measures to be taken to assure that the ethical protection of participants is adequate. Note: if participants are not used in the study, just note N/A and why.
Identify sample type: random, purposive, stratified, or other and fully describe the participant selection and geographical location.
Research Method and Design
Text begins here. The research method and design includes (a) a description of the research method and design, (b) provides justification for using the method and design, and (c) derives logically from the applied business problem statement. The method and design should be appropriate to researching the problem statement. Note: this subsection should be a significant expansion of the discussion on the Nature of the Study in Section 1.
Text begins here. Identify and justify the use of a specific research method, indicate whether the research project uses quantitative, qualitative, or mixed methods (hybrid), why it was selected, and why other methods were not selected. Expand on the discussion in Section 1.
Research Design
Text begins here. Identify and justify the use of a specific research design within a research method. Discuss why it was selected, and why other methods were not selected. Finally discuss why this design is appropriate to the problem being studied. Expand on the discussion in Section 1.
Population and Sampling
Text begins here. This section (a) describes the population from which the sample will be drawn; (b) describes and defends the sampling method including the sampling frame used, using appropriate methodology references and concepts; (c) describes and defends the sample size using appropriate methodology references and concepts; (d) describes the eligibility criteria for study participants; and (e) describes and explains the relevance of characteristics of the selected sample.
Criteria for selecting participants are specified and are appropriate to the study. There is a justification for the number of participants (in accordance with the qualitative design/approach chosen) which is balanced with depth of inquiry. The fewer the participants used in the study, the deeper the inquiry per individual. If appropriate, the rationale for specific types of subjects/representation in sampling is provided. Criteria for selecting participants are specified and are appropriate to the study.
Note: Discuss sampling techniques such as purposive, convenience, random, or stratified sample (subsets might include age, race, gender, or experience).
Data Collection
Text begins here. This section presents: (a) Descriptions of instrumentation or data collection tools to include the name of the instrument, the type of instrument, concepts measured by the instrument, how scores are calculated and their meaning, processes for assessment of reliability and validity of the instrument(s), processes needed to complete instruments by participants, and where raw data are or will be available (appendices, tables, or by request from the researcher). (b) Includes a detailed description of data that comprise each variable in the study. (c) Addresses appropriate psychometric properties of the scale used. (d) Discusses strategies used to address threats to validity, test-retest reliability, internal consistency, among others. (e) Finally discuss any adjustments or revisions to the use of standardized research instruments that were made.
Note: If you develop your own instrument, it must be piloted and validated. Some surveys may be purchased from http://buros.unl.edu/buros/jsp/search.jsp. Survey Monkey can be used to develop surveys or interview questionnaires ? see http://www.surveymonkey.com.
Data Collection Technique
Text begins here. Describe the technique used to collect data such as a survey, interview, observation, site visit, video recording, a sample of existing data or records and so on. In addition, describe the process of how data will be collected. For example, will a pilot study be used prior to the study? Finally, provide a list of any interview or survey questions used, which may be referenced here and placed in the Appendix.
Data Organization Techniques
Text begins here. Describe the systems use for keeping track of data and emerging understandings such as research logs, reflective journals, and cataloging systems. Describe how data will be secured, how long data will be stored, and how its subsequent disposition.
Data Analysis Technique
Text begins here. Data analysis logically and sequentially address all research questions or hypotheses, where appropriate, outcomes of hypothesis-testing procedures are clearly reported (e.g., findings support or fail to support, and do not contain any evident statistical errors. Describe how data will be analyzed such as using software tools such as NVivo, SPSS, Excel, and so on. Describe in detail any data coding used. Finally, overall, data analysis (presentation, interpretation, explanation) is consistent with the research questions or hypotheses and underlying theoretical/conceptual framework of the study.
Reliability and Validity
Text begins here. Discuss both the reliability of the study and the reliability of the instruments or interview / survey questions used.
Text begins here. Discuss both the internal and external validity of the study.
Transition and Summary
Text begins here. This section summarizes Section 2 and the gives an overview of the next section.

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Business Day, Companies. (2011) The New York Times. Retrieved http://www.nytimes.com/


Byrne, T.P. (2009). False profits: Reviving the corporation's public purpose. Discourse, 57 UCLA L. Rev. Disc. 25, UCLA School of Law, UC Berkeley, (Associate, Chadbourne & Parke, LLP). Retrieved http://uclalawreview.org/?p=1056

Clifford, S. (2011, March 29). Where Wal-Mart failed, Aldi succeeds. The New York Times. Retrieved http://www.nytimes.com/2011/03/28/us/28scotus.html?ref=walmartstoresinc

DealBook, 3 women sue BofA and Merrill Lynch over bias. The New York Times. Retrieved http://dealbook.nytimes.com/2010/03/31/3-women-sue-bofa-and-merrill-lynch-over-bias/

DealBook. suit accuses goldman of having mommy track. The New York Times. Retrieved http://dealbook.nytimes.com/2010/03/24/suit-accuses-goldman-of-having-mommy-track/

Elliott, K.A. And Richard B. Freeman, R.B. (2000). White hats or don quixotes? Human rights vigilantes in the global economy. National Bureau of Economic Research. (Conference presentation on August 4-5, 2000). Retrieved http://www.nber.org/chapters/c9950

Estrin, (2011). Answers about the nation's labor laws and unions, part 2. [Blog moderator]. The City Room: Blogging from the five boroughs, The New York Times. Retrieved 30 wisconsin.html?_r=1&scp=1&sq=ohio%20lawmakers%20pass%20anti-union%20bill%20emma%20fitzsimmons&st=cse

Featherstone, L. (2004). Selling women short: The landmark battle for workers' rights at Wal-Mart. New York, NY: Basic Books. Retrieved http://books.google.com/books?id=hA75Zb1dvg0C&pg=PA76&lpg=PA76&dq=featherstone+2004+walmart&source=bl&ots=AvNGI7zhv_&sig=eKoS62l1LHWlFE_4AtsxVSj9i5c&hl=en&ei=wKuXTZPUBYr4swPSnMTIBQ&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=6&ved=0CDwQ6AEwBQ#v=onepage&q&f=false

Federal fair labor standards act Retrieved http://webapps.dol.gov/search/AdvSearch.aspx?search_term=wal-mart&offset=0&agcoll=&agcate=&agency_name=DOL&submit1.x=0&submit1.y=0

Freeman, R. B, Hersch, J., & Mishel, L. (eds.) (2004). Emerging labor market institutions for the twenty-first century, National Bureau of Economic Research, University of Chicago Press Retrieved http://www.nber.org/books/free04-1

Friedman, M. (1970). The social responsibility of business is to increase its profits. The New York Times. Retrieved http://nobelprize.org/nobel_prizes/economics/laureates/1976/

Gary from the Village. (2011). Answers about the nation's labor laws and unions, part 2. [Blog comment]. The City Room: Blogging from the five boroughs, The New York Times. Retrieved 30 wisconsin.html?_r=1&scp=1&sq=ohio%20lawmakers%20pass%20anti-union%20bill%20emma%20fitzsimmons&st=cse

Hinkley, R. ( 2002, January/February). How Corporate Law Inhibits Social Responsibility: A Corporate Attorney Proposes a 'Code for Corporate Citizenship' in State Law, Business Ethics, Corporate Social Responsibility Report. Retrieved http://www.medialens.org/articles/the_articles/articles_2002/rh_corporate_responsibility.

Jay (2011, March 24). Answers about the nation's labor laws and unions, part 1. [Blog post] City Room, The New York Times. Retrieved http://www.nytimes.com/2011/03/30/business/

30 walmart.html?scp=3&sq=dukes%20suit%20against%20wal-mart&st=cse

Justice Kennedy. Times Topics, People. The New York Times. Retrieved http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/people/k/anthony_m_kennedy/index.html?inline=nyt-per

Justice Roberts. Times Topics, People. The New York Times. Retrieved http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/people/r/john_g_jr_roberts/index.html?inline=nyt-per

Justice Scalia. (2011). Times Topics, People. The New York Times. Retrieved http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/people/s/antonin_scalia/index.html?inline=nyt-per

Kennon, J. (2011). Sam Walton (aka Samuel Moore Walton) About.com. Retrieved http://beginnersinvest.about.com/od/samwalton/p/aasamwalton.htm

Langevoot, D.C. (2002). The organizational psychology of hyper-competition: Corporate irresponsibility and the lessons of Enron, George Washington Law Review, 70, 968.

Liptak, A. (2011, March 27). Supreme Court to weigh sociology issue in Wal-Mart discrimination case. The New York Times. Retrieved http://www.nytimes.com/


Liptak, A. (2011, March 29). Justices take up crucial issue in Wal-Mart suit. The New York Times. Retrieved http://topics.nytimes.com/top/news/business/companies / wal_mart_stores_inc/index.html?scp=2&sq=dukes%20suit%20against%20wal-mart&st=cse

Luce, S. (2005, April). Welcome to Wal-Mart: Always low prices, always low wages. The Weekly Review.

Mannino, E.F. (1989). Lender liability and banking litigation. Law Journal Press. Retrieved http://books.google.com/books?id=PrZ7O8rga08C&pg=SA11-PA3&lpg=SA11-PA3&dq=duties+of+directors+and+officers+of+corporations+duty+of+care&source=bl&ots=d0Cti3hkLv&sig=2GFO1Wo7bUQr9fCcybd5REJdurg&hl=en&ei=6dWXTcrBMqzbiAL3mrzsCA&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=4&ved=0CC0Q6AEwAw#v=onepage&q=duties%20of%20directors%20and%20officers%20of%20corporations%20duty%20of%20care&f=false

Markets. (2011). The New York Times, Retrieved http://markets.on.nytimes.com/research/stocks / news/press_release.asp?docTag=201103291548PR_NEWS_USPRX____DA73627&feedID=600&press_symbol=286571

McGeegan, P. (2004, July 14). Market place: Discrimination on Wall St. The numbers tell the story. Retrieved http://www.nytimes.com/204/07/14/business/marketplace-discrimination-on-wall-st-the-numbers-tell-the-story.html

Miles. M.B. & Huberman, A.M. (2000) The Qualitative Reseacher's Companion.

Remembering the triangle factory fire: 100 hundred years later. [Web exhibit], Cornell University, Industrial and Labor Relations School (ILR) Retrieved http://www.ilr.cornell.edu/trianglefire/aboutThisSite.html

Wal-Mart, Human Rights Watch. Retrievedhttp://www.hrw.org/en/search / apachesolr_search/wal-mart

Yahoo Finance. Walmart claims strong anti-discrimination policy. Retrieved http://finance.yahoo.com/q/ks?s=WMT+Key+Statistics


Berkeley Women's Law Journal

Bhatnager (2004).

Brownstein (2005)

Sellers (2005).

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Title: Labor Relataions

  • Total Pages: 4
  • Words: 1205
  • References:4
  • Citation Style: APA
  • Document Type: Essay
Essay Instructions: Please write a one page essay qustion for each of the 4 questions. If possible use the reference listed below if possible. Also, list the full reference at the end of each page/question (using at least one reference per page) at the end of each page instead of all at the end. Thank you

1. Union membership has been on the decline. Do you believe this is a positive or negative trend? Why? Please explain your answer
2. What factors in the 1800s do you believe contributed to the growth of the American Labor Movement? Please explain your answer.
3. What do you believe to be the pros and cons of union membership? Which do you believe to be more beneficial? Why?
4. Many non-professional jobs in healthcare are often hard to fill, pay low wages, and experience a lot of turnover. Would a union help or hinder the retention of employees in a situation as described above? Explain.

Carrell, M. R., & Heavrin, C. (2010). Labor relations and collective bargaining: Cases, practice, and law (9th ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall.

First time used.
(Carrell & Heavrin, 2007)
If a direct quote.
(Carrell & Heavrin, 2007, p. x)

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Cornwell, B., & Harrison, J.A. (2004). Union Members and Voluntary Associations: Membership Overlap as a Case of Organizational Embeddedness. American Sociological Review, 69(6), 862-881.

Dixon, M. (2010). Union Threat, Countermovement Organization, and Labor Policy in the States, 1944 -- 1960. Social Problems, 57(2), 157-174.

Gottfried, H. (1992). The Impact of Skill on Union Membership: Rethinking Gender Differences. The Sociological Quarterly, 33(1), 99-114.

Krinsky, J., & Reese, E. (2006). Forging and Sustaining Labor-Community Coalitions: The Workfare Justice Movement in Three Cities. Sociological Forum, 21(4), 623-658.

Newton, L.A., & Shore, L.M. (1992). A Model of Union Membership: Instrumentality, Commitment, and Opposition. The Academy of Management Review, 17(2), 275-298.

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Title: NIKE

  • Total Pages: 4
  • Words: 1511
  • Works Cited:3
  • Citation Style: APA
  • Document Type: Research Paper
Essay Instructions: Directions:

Answer the Case Discussion Questions following your selected case. Summarize the strategic and operational challenges facing global managers illustrated in your selected case. Comment on recent global developments affecting the company in your selected case.

Cases: “Nike: The Sweatshop Debate”


Nike is in many ways the quintessential global corporation. Established in 1972 by former University of Oregon track star Phil Knight, Nike is now one of the leading marketers of athletic shoes and apparel on the planet. The company has $10 billion in annual revenues and sells its products in some 140 countries. Nike does not do any manufacturing. Rather, it designs and markets its products, while contracting for their manufacture from a global network of 600 factories scattered around the globe that employ some 550,000 people.1 This huge corporation has made Knight into one of the richest people in America. The Nike marketing phrase “Just Do It!” has become as recognizable in popular culture as its “swoosh” logo or the faces of its celebrity sponsors, such as Michael Jordan and Tiger Woods.

For all of its successes, the company has been dogged for more than a decade by repeated and persistent accusations that its products are made in sweatshops where workers, many of them children, slave away in hazardous conditions for less than subsistence wages. Nike's wealth, its detractors claim, has been built upon the backs of the world's poor. To many, Nike has become a symbol of the evils of globalization—a rich Western corporation exploiting the world's poor to provide expensive shoes and apparel to the pampered consumers of the developed world. Nike's “Niketown” stores have become standard targets for antiglobalization protesters. Several nongovernmental organizations, such as San Franciso–based Global Exchange, a human rights organization dedicated to promoting environmental, political, and social justice around the world, have targeted Nike for repeated criticism and protests.2 News organizations such as CBS's “48 Hours” hosted by Dan Rather have run exposés on working conditions in foreign factories that supply Nike. Students on the campuses of several major U.S. universities with which Nike has lucrative sponsorship deals have protested against the ties, citing Nike's use of sweatshop labor.

The Case against Nike

Typical of the exposés against Nike was a “48 Hours” report that aired October 17, 1996.3 Reporter Roberta Baskin visited a Nike factory in Vietnam. With a shot of the factory, her commentary began:

The signs are everywhere of an American invasion in search of cheap labor. Millions of people who are literate, disciplined, and desperate for jobs. This is Nike Town near what use to be called Saigon, one of four factories Nike doesn't own but subcontracts to make a million shoes a month. It takes 25,000 workers, mostly young women, to “Just Do It.”
But the workers here don't share in Nike's huge profits.
They work six days a week for only $40 a month, just 20 cents an hour.

Baskin interviewed one factory worker, a young woman named Lap. Baskin told viewers:

Her basic wage, even as sewing team leader, still doesn't amount to the minimum wage … She's down to 85 pounds. Like most of the young women who make shoes, she has little choice but to accept the low wages and long hours. Nike says that it requires all subcontractors to obey local laws; but Lap has already put in much more overtime than the annual legal limit: 200 hours.

Baskin then asked Lap what would happen if she was sick or had something she needed to take care of, such as a sick relative, and needed to leave the factory? Through a translator, Lap replied:

It is not possible if you haven't made enough shoes. You have to meet the quota before you can go home.

The clear implication of the story was that Nike was at fault here for allowing such working conditions to persist in the Vietnam factory, which was owned by a Korean company.
Another attack on Nike's subcontracting practices came in June 1996 from Made in the USA, a foundation largely financed by labor unions and domestic apparel manufacturers that oppose free trade with low-wage countries. According to Joel Joseph, chairman of the foundation, a popular line of high-priced Nike sneakers, the “Air Jordans,” were put together by 11-year-olds in Indonesia making 14 cents per hour. A Nike spokeswoman, Donna Gibbs, countered that this was false. According to Gibbs, the average worker made 240,000 rupiah ($103) a month working a maximum 54-hour week, or about 45 cents per hour. Gibbs also noted that Nike had staff members in each factory monitoring conditions to make sure the factory obeyed local minimum wage and child labor laws.4

Another example of the criticism against Nike is the following extract from a newsletter published by Global Exchange:5

During the 1970s, most Nike shoes were made in South Korea and Taiwan. When workers there gained new freedom to organize and wages began to rise, Nike looked for “greener pastures.” It found them in Indonesia and China, where Nike started producing in the 1980s, and most recently in Vietnam.

The majority of Nike shoes are made in Indonesia and China, countries with governments that prohibit independent unions and set the minimum wage at rock bottom. The Indonesian government admits that the minimum wage there does not provide enough to supply the basic needs of one person, let alone a family. In early 1997 the entry-level wage was a miserable $2.46 a day. Labor groups estimate that a livable wage in Indonesia is about $4.00 a day.

In Vietnam the pay is even less—20 cents an hour, or a mere $1.60 a day. But in urban Vietnam, three simple meals cost about $2.10 a day, and then of course there is rent, transportation, clothing, health care, and much more. According to Thuyen Nguyen of Vietnam Labor Watch, a living wage in Vietnam is at least $3 a day.

In another attack on Nike's practices, in September 1997 Global Exchange published a report on working conditions in four Nike and Reebok subcontractors in southern China.6 Global Exchange, in conjunction with two Hong Kong human rights groups, had interviewed workers at the factories in 1995 and again in 1997. According to Global Exchange, in one factory, a Koreanowned subcontractor for Nike, workers as young as 13 earning as little as 10 cents an hour toiled up to 17 hours daily in enforced silence. Talking during work was not allowed, with violators fined $1.20 to $3.60, according to the report. The practices were in violation of Chinese labor law, which states that no child under 16 may work in a factory, and the Chinese minimum wage requirement of $1.90 for an eight-hour day. Nike condemned the study as erroneous, stating that the report incorrectly stated the wages of workers and made irresponsible accusations.

Global Exchange, however, continued to be a major thorn in Nike's side. In November 1997, the organization obtained and then leaked a confidential report by Ernst & Young of an audit that Nike had commissioned of a factory in Vietnam owned by a Nike subcontractor.7 The factory had 9,200 workers and made 400,000 pairs of shoes a month. The Ernst & Young report painted a dismal picture of thousands of young women, most under age 25, laboring 10 1/2 hours a day, six days a week, in excessive heat and noise and in foul air, for slightly more than $10 a week. The report also found that workers with skin or breathing problems had not been transferred to departments free of chemicals and that more than half the workers who dealt with dangerous chemicals did not wear protective masks or gloves. It claimed workers were exposed to carcinogens that exceeded local legal standards by 177 times in parts of the plant and that 77 percent of the employees suffered from respiratory problems.

Put on the defensive yet again, Nike called a news conference and pointed out that it had commissioned the report and had acted on it.8 The company stated it had formulated an action plan to deal with the problems cited in the report, and had slashed overtime, improved safety and ventilation, and reduced the use of toxic chemicals. The company also asserted that the report showed that its internal monitoring system had performed exactly as it should have. According to one spokesman:

This shows our system of monitoring works … We have uncovered these issues clearly before anyone else, and we have moved fairly expeditiously to correct them.

Nike's Responses

Unaccustomed to playing defense, Nike formulated a number of strategies and tactics to deal with the problems of working conditions and pay at subcontractors. In 1996, Nike hired Andrew Young, onetime U.S. ambassador to the United Nations and former Atlanta mayor, to assess working conditions in subcontractors' plants around the world. Young released a mildly critical report of Nike in mid-1997. After completing a two-week tour that covered 15 factories in three countries, Young informed Nike it was doing a good job in treating workers, though it should do better. According to Young, he did not see
sweatshops, or hostile conditions … I saw crowded dorms … but the workers were eating at least two meals a day on the job and making what I was told were subsistence wages in those cultures.9

Young was widely criticized by human rights and labor groups for not taking his own translators and for doing slipshod inspections, an assertion he repeatedly denied.

In 1996, Nike joined a presidential task force designed to find a way of banishing sweatshops in the shoe and clothing industries. The task force included industry leaders such as Nike, representatives from human rights groups, and labor leaders. In April 1997, the task force announced an agreement for workers rights that U.S. companies could agree to when manufacturing abroad. The accord limited the work week to 60 hours and called for paying at least the local minimum wage in foreign factories. The task force also agreed to establish an independent monitoring association—later named the Fair Labor Association (FLA)—to assess whether companies are abiding by the code.10

The FLA now includes among its members the Lawyers Committee for Human Rights, the National Council of Churches, the International Labor Rights Fund, some 135 universities (universities have extensive licensing agreements with sports apparel companies such as Nike), and companies such as Nike, Reebok, and Levi Strauss. In early 1997, Nike also began to commission independent organizations such as Ernst & Young to audit the factories of its subcontractors. In September 1997, Nike tried to show its critics that it was involved in more than just a public relations exercise when it terminated its relationship with four Indonesian subcontractors, stating that they had refused to comply with the company's standard for wage levels and working conditions. Nike identified one of the subcontractors, Seyon, which manufactured specialty sports gloves for Nike. Nike said that Seyon refused to meet a 10.7 percent increase in the monthly wage, to $70.30, declared by the Indonesian government in April 1997.11

On May 12, 1998, in a speech given at the National Press Club, Phil Knight spelled out in detail a series of initiatives designed to improve working conditions for the 500,000 people that make products for Nike.12 Among the initiatives Knight highlighted were the following:
We have effectively changed our minimum age limits from the ILO (International Labor Organization) standards of 15 in most countries and 14 in developing countries to 18 in all footwear manufacturing and 16 in all other types of manufacturing (apparel, accessories, and equipment.). Existing workers legally employed under the former limits were grandfathered into the new requirements.

During the past 13 months we have moved to a 100 percent factory audit scheme, where every Nike contract factory will receive an annual check by Pricewaterhouse Coopers teams who are specially trained on our Code of Conduct Owner's Manual and audit/monitoring procedures. To date they have performed about 300 such monitoring visits. In a few instances in apparel factories they have found workers under our age standards. Those factories have been required to raise their standards to 17 years of age, to require three documents certifying age, and to redouble their efforts to ensure workers meet those standards through interviews and records checks.

Our goal was to ensure workers around the globe are protected by requiring factories to have no workers exposed to levels above those mandated by the permissible exposure limits (PELs) for chemicals prescribed in the OSHA indoor air quality standards.13

These moves were applauded in the business press, but they were greeted with a skeptical response from Nike's long-term adversaries in the debate over the use of foreign labor. While conceding that Nike's policies were an improvement, one critic writing in the New York Times noted:

Mr. Knight's child labor initiative is … a smoke screen. Child labor has not been a big problem with Nike, and Philip Knight knows that better than anyone. But public relations is public relations. So he announces that he's not going to let the factories hire kids, and suddenly that's the headline.

Mr. Knight is like a three-card monte player. You have to keep a close eye on him at all times.

The biggest problem with Nike is that its overseas workers make wretched, below-subsistence wages. It's not the minimum age that needs raising, it's the minimum wage. Most of the workers in Nike factories in China and Vietnam make less than $2 a day, well below the subsistence levels in those countries. In Indonesia the pay is less than $1 a day.
The company's current strategy is to reshape its public image while doing as little as possible for the workers. Does anyone think it was an accident that Nike set up shop in human rights sinkholes, where labor organizing was viewed as a criminal activity and deeply impoverished workers were willing, even eager, to take their places on assembly lines and work for next to nothing?14

Other critics question the value of Nike's auditors, Pricewaterhouse Coopers (PwC). Dara O'Rourke, an assistant professor at MIT, followed the PwC auditors around several factories in China, Korea, and Vietnam. He concluded that although the auditors found minor violations of labor laws and codes of conduct, they missed major labor practice issues including hazardous working conditions, violations of overtime laws, and violation of wage laws. The problem, according to O'Rourke, was that the auditors had limited training and relied on factory managers for data and to set up worker interviews, all of which were performed in the factories. The auditors, in other words, were getting an incomplete and somewhat sanitized view of conditions in the factory.15

The Controversy Continues

Fueled perhaps by the unforgiving criticisms of Nike that continued after Phil Knight's May 1998 speech, beginning in 1998 and continuing into 2001, a wave of protests against Nike occurred on many university campuses. The moving force behind the protests was the United Students Against Sweatshops (USAS). The USAS argued that the Fair Labor Association (FLA), which grew out of the presidential task force on sweatshops, was an industry tool, and not a truly independent auditor of foreign factories. The USAS set up an alternative independent auditing organization, the Workers Rights Consortium (WRC), which they charged with auditing factories that produce products under collegiate licensing programs (Nike is a high profile supplier of products under these programs). The WRC is backed, and partly funded, by labor unions and refuses to cooperate with companies, arguing that doing so would jeopardize its independence.

By mid-2000, the WRC had persuaded some 48 universities to join the organization, including all nine calmpuses of the University of California system, the University of Michigan, and the University of Oregon, Phil Knight's alma mater. When Knight heard that the University of Oregon would join the WRC, as opposed to the FLA, he withdrew a planned $30 million donation to the university.16 Despite this, in November 2000, the University of Washington announced it too would join the WRC, although it would also retain its membership in the FLA.17

Nike continued to push forward with its own initiatives, updating progress on its website. In April 2000, in response topressure that it was still hiding poor working conditions, Nike announced it would release the complete reports of all independent audits of its subcontractors' plants. Global Exchange continued to criticize the company, arguing in mid-2001 that the company was not living up to Knight's 1998 promises, and that it was intimidating workers from speaking out about abuses.18

Case Discussion Questions

1. Should Nike be held responsible for working contitions in foreign factories that it does not own, but where subcontractors make products for Nike?
2. What labor standards regarding safety, working conditions, overtime, and the like should Nike hold foreign factories to: those prevailing in that country, or those prevailing in the United States?
3. An income of $2.28 a day, the base pay of Nike factory workers in Indonesia, is double the daily income of about half the working population. Half of all adults in Indonesia are farmers, who receive less than $1 a day.19 Given this, is it correct to criticize Nike for the low pay rates of its subcontractors in Indonesia?
4. Could Nike have handled the negative publicity over sweatshops better? What might it have done differently, not just from a public relations perspective, but also from a policy perspective?
5. Do you think Nike needs to make any changes to its current policy? If so what? Should Nike make changes even if they hinder the ability of the company to compete?
6. Is the WRC right to argue that the FLA is a tool of industry?
7. If sweatshops are a global problem, what might be a global solution to this problem?

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Works Cited:


Akst, Daniel. (2001) "Working Conditions of Nike Contract Workers" NCPA Trade Issues.

Retrieved 26 September, 2007 at http://www.ncpa.org/pd/trade/pd030601g.html

Churchwell, Cynthia. (2003, Dec) "The New Global Business Manager." Retrieved 26 September, 2007 at http://hbswk.hbs.edu/item/3827.html

Frenkel, Michael; Hommel, Ulrich; Rudolf, Markus; Dufey, Gunter. (2005) "Risk management,

Challenge and opportunity" Springer.

N.A. (n. d.) "Nike: The Sweatshop Debate"

Case Study.

O'Rourke, Dara. (2001, Feb) "To fix sweatshop conditions in factories, we must listen to workers." The Boston Globe, p. 7.


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