Cutting Nike ties good move for UW

Story by The Spectator Staff

Sports and college have a long, interwoven history. Athletics can be a major source of revenue for a university, and the campus’ sporting teams can be a major draw for prospective students.

Given this deep connection between athletics and academics, UW-Madison’s decision to end a licensing agreement with Nike Inc. because of concerns about labor practices is a bold and commendable move.

Madison has been a leader in labor relations with its companies, and it’s encouraging to see the UW System’s flagship campus continue this tradition.

According to a Wisconsin State Journal report, the labor controversy centered around some of Nike’s factories in Honduras, specifically the subcontractors running the plants. Madison’s code of conduct requires the companies that manufacture apparel for them to be responsible for their subcontractors.

Chancellor Biddy Martin wrote to Nike in December, asking for a plan to remedy the situation. Nike was given 120 days to respond, but an agreement wasn’t reached.

Madison’s Student Labor Coalition had been pressuring Chancellor Martin to sever ties with the contract, rallying outside her office after the 120-day deadline expired, according to the report.

This kind of student involvement is fantastic and shows that the students of Madison are engaged and socially conscious.

According to the article, the university’s contract with Nike generated just $49,000 of income for the university last year. Given that relatively small number, it’s nice to see Madison’s decision was motivated by more than money.

Hopefully, Madison’s decision will be a catalyst for other universities to follow suit and consider their contracts with labor-exploiting companies. This decision should make students proud to go to school in Wisconsin.