make your own polo Nike sweatshop activist Jim Keady to speak at SUNY Oswego
Courtesy of SUNY OswegoActivist Jim Keady talks with Indonesian sweatshop workers during one of his trips there following his month long employment in a sweatshop in 2000. He will speak at SUNY Oswego on April 21.
Thirteen years ago, St. John University assistant soccer coach Jim Keady refused to wear Nike logoed gear to honor that school endorsement deal. He resigned his post and has been campaigning ever since against Nike, which Keady says exploits its workers in overseas sweatshops.
Keady, who filmed the documentary the Swoosh, will speak April 21 Wednesday at SUNY the State University College at Oswego. He spoke with Hart Seely talked with us while en route to a speaking engagement in Boston.
You lived with Nike workers in Indonesia, right?
In the summer of 2000, I moved to Indonesia and lived in a slum with factory workers. I simulated their living conditions. I tried to survive on the wages they get paid. In one month, I lost 25 pounds. I met the men and women that make the Nike stuff that, as an athlete, I wore for years without thinking about it. I promised them I would come home and tell their stories. I planned on doing that for maybe ten 10 weeks. I been on the road now for more than 10 years.
What does the wage buy you in Indonesia?
Workers are currently making one million fifty rubia a month. That the basic wage.
Yeah, well, when you got the rubia trading at 10,000 to a dollar, you making about $100 a month. Your rent, your drinking water and any transportation is going to cost you, collectively, about 500,000 rubia. You left with 500,050 rubia for the rest of the month. . . What about food? What about clothes? What about modest recreation? . . . A Coke is 3,000 rubia. A kilo of bananas is 8,000.
What about other corporations, beyond Nike?
They all the same. I personally have interviewed workers that produce for Nike,
Adidas, Reebok, the Gap, Old Navy, Tommy Hilfiger, Polo, Ralph Lauren, Fila, Levis and Puma. Conditions are the same, across the board.
It grounded in my desire to follow the teachings and example of Jesus. . . I not talking about Jesus Christ, the savior who died to save me from my sins. I talking about a revolutionary who stood up for the poor, the marginalized and the oppressed. I like to believe if I lived in First Century Palestine, and I got to hear that guy speak, I would said, right, I in. That what I trying to do in 2010.
What about working Americans? There are exploited people here, too. For three and a half years I was on the city council of Asbury Park. . . . Any time I been called upon by a labor union, a trade union, I responded. I try to be as consistent as I can. This isn an vs. them situation. This is the workers of the world needing to pull together to create a more just economic system.
What your take on the Tea Party movement?
I think there is legitimate righteous anger among people in the movement. I think their anger is misplaced. I think if there was better social analysis, and you had some real leadership, they would say, you angry at elected officials,
but who is pulling the puppet strings of both parties? It the trans national corporations. They have allegiance to no one but their bottom lines. That where the energy needs to be focused. The publicly traded trans national corporation is the greatest threat to the democratic ethos of the United States.