Wednesday, October 7, 2015
Don't sweat it
In this picture you see a man and we can immediately make the assumption that he is an athlete, probably wearing a pair of top of the line athletic sneakers, perhaps Nike shoes? Well this is Jim Keady, a labor activist that did not set out with a plan to make dramatic changes and educate others on social injustice. Jim was a soccer coach at St. John's University. I am always pondering what to wear or what not to wear, in Jim Keady's case, it is what he decided not to wear to work that cost him his job. At the time of his coaching days, the Nike company was endorsing St. John's University and what better way to advertise this then to have the coaching staff and players wear Nike gear. Jim Keady discovered that Nike manufactured their goods by using sweatshops and he refused to support Nike which ultimately cost him his job.
Most people would make their point and move on, but not Jim, he did not stop there. "Most people ask the question, "What is it like to live on a sweatshop wage in a developing country?" Jim Keady found out" (brophybroncos.org).
Jim Keady made a documentary "Behind the Swoosh" which shows the terrible conditions in the factories that produce Nike goods, a stark contrast to the Nike corporation company's main offices which are also shown in the film. Jim lives alongside the workers and shows the poverty and low wages that make life unbearable. He also reveals that Nike dumps loads of unused sneakers causing environmental pollution which results in hazardous health risks for the people that live nearby.
I found the documentary and Jim Keady's story just searching the internet. I couldn't believe this story...Nike? I love Nike and thought their brand stood for a healthy, work hard, play hard mentality. "Just Do It" serves as a personal mantra for so many and here behind the scenes are individuals barely surviving while sweating through endless hours of work each day with very little to show for it. Labor activists, such as Jim Keady, make us think and second guess the next time we reach for our Nike sneakers maybe we should not "Just Do It".