Today President Obama is giving a speech promoting the Trans-Pacific Partnership. Paradoxically, he’s chosen to give it at Nike headquarters in Oregon.
Nike isn’t the solution to the problem of stagnant wages in America. Nike is the problem.
It’s true that over the past two years Nike has added 2,000 good-paying professional jobs at its Oregon headquarters, fulfilling the requirements of a controversial tax break it wrangled from the state legislature. That’s good for Nike’s new design, research and marketing employees.
But Nike’s U.S. workers make only a tiny percent of Nike’s products.
In fact, Americans made only 1 percent of the products that generated Nike’s $27.8 billion revenue last year. And Nike is moving ever more of its production abroad. Last year, a third of Nike’s remaining 13,922 American production workers were laid off.
Most of Nike’s products are made by 990,000 workers in low-wage countries whose abysmal working conditions have made Nike a symbol of global sweatshop labor.
As wages have risen in China, Nike has switched most of its production to Vietnam where wages are less than 60 cents are hour. Almost 340,000 workers cut and assemble Nike products there.