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Just doing it: Jim Keady vs Nike

By Jim Keady, Leslie Kretsu and Mike Pierantozzi - posted Friday, 15 September 2000

Jim Keady is a former assistant soccer coach from St. John's University. While coaching, Keady was also doing a research paper on Nike's labor practices for his MA in theology. Citing Nike’s use of sweatshop labor, Keady began to publicly protest the university's relationship with Nike. He also refused to wear the equipment Nike provided the University. On May 12, 1998 Keady was given an ultimatum by university officials, "Wear Nike and drop this issue publicly or resign." Keady was forced to resign.

In May 1999, Keady offered to work for six months in a Nike shoe factory in south-east Asia to dispel the myth that "these are great jobs for those people." Brad Figel of Nike’s Labor Practices Department responded, "We are not interested in your offer". So, Keady and project assistants Leslie Kretzu, and Mike Pierantozzi did the next best thing ... read from their diary below.

"Starving for the Swoosh" by Jim Keady



I really can’t remember that much about August 9th, it’s all kind of a blur, for most of the day I felt dizzy, weak, and completely drained of energy. I do remember buying a bar of soap early in the day for 1,800Rp ($0.21). I thought I had gotten the cheapest brand, I found out later that I could have gotten the bottom of the barrel brand for 1000Rp ($0.12). I’m not sure if that extra 800Rp ($0.09) would have made a difference; my hunger was beyond anything I may have been able to purchase with it. Wanting to stay clean would cost me.

By late afternoon I had reached a point of hunger and exhaustion I have never experienced before in my life. I was not physically able to bring a one-liter bottle of water to my lips without it shaking violently in my hand. Living on a Nike sweatshop wage has forced me to neglect my body, and my body is fighting back. I hope my mom doesn’t read this.

How do the workers survive putting in 7-15 hour days of manual labor and having this little to eat? How can they keep a shard of their dignity? How can they or any human being be expected to feel human when each day is an exercise in injustice and humility? I almost passed out from hunger today. I live on a Nike sweatshop wage. There is nothing else to write.

"One’s neighbor must therefore be loved, even if an enemy, with the same love with which the Lord loves him or her; and for that person’s sake one must be ready for sacrifice, even the ultimate one: to lay down one’s life for the brethren." (Pope John Paul II, Sollicitudo Rei Socialis, 1987)

"Sickness in Solidarity" by Leslie Kretzu



We've entered a new phase of the project. The energy reserve that I had for the first two weeks is depleted. Each day is a struggle. Of the foods and drink I can afford, nothing is appealing to me at the moment. Not surprisingly, I got sick. I have a headache, a fever, nausea and my lungs feel like I've been chain-smoking Marlboro Reds while sitting in front of a Mack truck's exhaust pipe.

I spent the majority of today lying on a paper-thin reed mat on an uneven cement floor covered in shelf paper. I self-diagnosed the beginnings of Dengue Fever, Malaria, or Typhoid, from Lonely Planet's three-sentence summaries. All the feelings of entitlement that have ever coursed through my veins awakened. There was no way in hell I was going to stick to this starvation wage. I was sick. This didn't count. I was going to get what I needed and just … not count it. Project time was on hold indefinitely. How could I not get juice and medicine? This is what I NEEDED!

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About the Authors

Jim Keady is a former assistant soccer coach from St. John's University who began to publicly protest against Nike's labor practices. Keady was ultimately forced to resign from the University.

Leslie Kretsu is project assistant to Jim Keady.

Mike Pierantozzi is project assistant to Jim Keady.

Related Links
Nikewages campaign homepage
Photo of Jim KeadyJim KeadyPhoto of Leslie KretsuLeslie KretsuPhoto of Mike PierantozziMike Pierantozzi
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