Ex-Nike Factory Employee Speaks Out Against Company’s Injustice

U.S. labor activists are again raising concerns over apparel and shoe manufacturers’ poor labor practices, with the help of ex-Nike factory worker Julia Esmeralda Pleites.

Pleites earned 40 cents an hour making T-shirts for Nike in an El Salvador factory until she was fired for not showing up to work one day. She missed her bus because she didn’t have the money to pay for it.

Pleites was amazed when she found out that the shirts she made in El Salvador sell for $75 each in North America.

It was very unjust, because they pay us very cheaply to make a very expensive product,” Pleites, 22, said in Spanish at a National Labor Committee news conference.

Concerns brought up at Tuesday’s conference other than wages included overtime work without pay, undue pressure to meet quotas, humiliation at the hands of abusive managers, and other conditions set forth by sweatshops.

Nike employs over 500,000 people in 35 countries in manufacturing, distribution, and sales positions.

Pleites asked to just have better treatment for her former co-workers. She said that by closing the factory where she worked, many people would lose much needed jobs.


AP - November 17, 1998

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