Georgetown Solidarity delivers petition to DeGioia on Adidas contract

IMG_1849Early Friday afternoon, members of the Georgetown Solidarity Committee delivered a letter and petition to University President John J. DeGioia’s office asking the administration to cut its sportswear contract with Adidas if the company does not reform its labor practices.

The issue at hand is severance pay for Indonesian workers. Solidarity members say Adidas is withholding back wages owed to employees.

“Adidas had a factory called PT Kizone in Indonesia and two other companies, Nike and Dallas Cowboys, also operated in this factory,” Natalia Margolis (SFS ‘13) said. “They closed the factory and now Adidas is refusing to pay the workers … a severance.”

Julia Hubbell (COL ‘15) says this practice not only puts Adidas at odds with Indonesian law, but violates the University’s licensing agreement.

“There is a specific clause in that contract that says companies need to pay all applicable back wages, meaning specifically severance,” she said. “That gives Georgetown University every right to either demand Adidas change its behavior or cut the contract.”

Friday was not the first time GSC has asked the University to pressure Adidas. The group delivered a letter to the administration last spring, but the results were unsatisfactory to the activists.

“We had a letter delivery last year,” said Margolis. “Georgetown has sent letters to Adidas, but the response hasn’t been enough … They don’t want to set precedent that they’re going to do this.”

IMG_1856Hubbell says Adidas is taking other actions to mitigate controversy outside of paying the workers what they’re owed.

“One of the things they’ve done to get out of it is they’ve given workers food vouchers that are worth partial severance, but not the full amount,” she said. “That’s not enough. The workers will say ‘We can’t pay our rent with this. We can’t send our children to school with this. They’re basically treating us like animals and all we need is food.’”

Nike, and not Adidas, is Georgetown’s main sportswear supplier. GSC says in this area the American company is respecting the University’s labor standards.

“The other two companies who were operating out of this factory—Nike and Dallas [Cowboys]—they did pay the severance,” Hubbell said. “While it’s a small contract [with Adidas], it’s definitely a moral stand.”

Cornell University recently cut its contract with Adidas over labor and severance concerns at the same Indonesian factory. Solidarity hopes that will encourage Georgetown to stand up for workers as well.

“Georgetown is a Catholic and Jesuit university,” said Margolis, “and the fact that we were not first to cut the contract when we have previously been a leader in workers’ rights is something we think is unfortunate … We’re hoping, especially with the momentum of Cornell cutting it’s contract, Georgetown will realize that it needs to be a leader in this.”
GSC is asking the University for a response before the meeting of the Licensing and Oversight Committee on October 10. University officials and representatives have not responded to requests for comment, but Vox will update this post if and when they do.
Full text of the letter below:

Photos by Miles Gavin Meng

One Comment on “Georgetown Solidarity delivers petition to DeGioia on Adidas contract

  1. Hey, if it takes a few starvations to get me my track suit, then that’s that.

    Adidas forever

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>