external image nike_swoosh.jpg

Just Don't Do It - A Catholic Analysis and Response to Nike's History of Sweatshop Labor in Southeast Asia


  1. Introduction and Context

  2. Social Analysis

  3. Theological Reflection

  4. Strategies for Change

  5. Concluding Reflection

"While it is true that man eats the bread produced by the work of his hands - and this means not only the daily bread by which his body keeps alive but also the bread of science and progress, civilization and culture - it is also a perennial truth that he eats this bread by "the sweat of his face", that is to say, not only by personal effort and toil but also in the midst of many tensions, conflicts and crises, which, in relationship with the reality of work, disturb the life of individual societies and also of all humanity,”[[#_ftn1|[1]][1]

Pope John Paul II is correct in observing that work is not only a basic and essential part of human life and survival, but can also be a breeding ground for some of humanity’s deepest and most troubling conflicts. Nowhere are these conflicts more evident than in sweatshops, places where ironically the sweat of a man’s face, or even that of a woman or child, is scarcely enough to afford them their daily bread. Workers toil endless hours on end under severe and unhealthy conditions, all so that western consumers can have products from their favorite brand name. Sweatshops exist all over the world, even in the United States, but for the most part exist in third world countries where labor from industrialized nations is outsourced. Over the past few decades, few companies have felt more pressure regarding the use of sweatshops than Nike, one of the world’s largest names in sneakers and sports apparel. Nike charges above 100 dollars for many of the shoes it sells, they can afford to pay hundreds of millions of dollars to have star athletes promoting their goods, yet the people actually making the products can barely afford to support themselves let alone a family. The mistreatments of workers as well as neglecting to pay a living wage are serious failures in the eyes of the Catholic Church, especially in light of its principles of the dignity of the worker as a human being, and also the common good.

Source:  http://www.usvetdsp.com/nike.gif
Source: http://www.usvetdsp.com/nike.gif

Proceed To: Social Analysis

[[#_ftnref1|[1]][1] Pope John Paul II, "Laborem Exercens." Sept. 14, 1981.http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/john_paul_ii/encyclicals/documents/hf_jp-ii_enc_14091981_laborem-exercens_en.html (accessed 04/18/09).