It’s been over nine months since the Worker Rights Consortium discovered that Adidas, which has a contract with Georgetown, owes workers in Indonesia $1.8 million in back wages. We’re still waiting for Georgetown to respond.
Adidas is clearly in the wrong on this issue, and Georgetown doesn’t save face by postponing a decision. If anything, the delay confirms the university’s role as an enabler.
Adidas violated the Code of Conduct for university licensees by failing to pay severance compensation, and Georgetown’s inaction represents the very attitude that allows greedy employers to prosper at the expense of foreign workers. Other colleges, including Cornell University, have cut ties with Adidas; Georgetown, meanwhile, can’t manage to schedule a meeting to decide what to do.
Earlier this week, Associate Vice President for Federal Relations Scott Fleming told The Hoya, “Is it better to cut our relationship with [Adidas] or maintain contact and talk them into doing the right thing?” (“GU Delays Decision on Adidas Violation,” The Hoya, A1, Sept. 25, 2012). Does Fleming truly believe that Georgetown can talk Adidas into paying nearly $2 million in back wages, thus establishing an expectation that it do so in the future? Georgetown has maintained business relations with a company that exploits already underpaid workers. What moral high ground does it have to lecture Adidas about “doing the right thing?”
We find this inaction unacceptable, particularly for an institution that preaches justice and social values. By postponing a response to Adidas’ breach of contract, Georgetown cheapens those ideals.