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Nike Opens Certain Factories Up for Inspection

Nike has agreed to let a workers’ rights union inspect its supplier factories.

In partnership with Georgetown University, Nike announced last week a new licensing agreement designed to show a shared commitment to improving working conditions in the collegiate apparel industry.

The new agreement with the Worker Rights Consortium (WRC), a labor rights monitoring organization, gives the WRC formal access to Nike supplier factories that make Georgetown University apparel, allowing them to investigate and ensure proper working conditions. The new protocol also helps improve coordination between the consortium and Nike when a violation is identified and changes need to be made.

The news comes months after a December sit-in by Georgetown students protesting the school’s licensing agreement with Nike over concerns about labor practices.

“We now have a road map together for how we coordinate, which we didn’t have before,” said Hannah Jones, Nike’s chief sustainability officer. “This protocol helps us to establish how we will work together in a much clearer way.”

Georgetown had let its licensing agreement with Nike expire and pushed for new guidelines, and has now established a new licensing agreement with the athletic-wear manufacturer. The new standards apply to Nike-produced T-shirts, items that would normally sell in the school’s bookstore, not necessarily items produced for the pair’s sponsorship deal.

“Every brand and retailer in the garment industry has its own labor code and monitoring program, but those are voluntary programs, created by each brand and retailer itself,” Scott Nova, executive director of the Worker Rights Consortium, told the Washington Post. “What is special about the university codes is that they’re binding, they’re part of the contract between the university and the brand.”

Nike also agreed that its contract manufacturers will follow the IMG College Licensing’s Labor Code Standards, which align with Georgetown’s code, and include the labor standards of which the WRC investigates factories.

“Nike and Georgetown share a deep commitment to manufacturing collegiate products under the highest standards, respecting workers and the environment. This new agreement reflects our unwavering commitment to listening, engaging and evolving our joint approaches to continuously raise the bar on affecting positive change for workers in apparel and footwear supply chains,” Nike COO Eric Sprunk, said.