premise: how do teens feel when confronted with the fact that they spend between $100 and $180 for a pair of shoes that cost Nike $5 to make, and learn that workers who made those shoes were paid $2 a day?
the revolt: in the last years, teens across the US have been more and more frequently organizing spontaneous protests against the conditions inside Nike’s Asian sweatshops. One of the most famous actions regarded New Jersey fourth graders who staged a play that was produced on Broadway about the working conditions in factories that contract with Nike.
Instead of carrying out pairs of sneakers from the Niketown store in New York City, young activists carried four garbage bags of old sneakers back in.
“Give Back Your Sneakers”: this protest was staged by the Edenwald Gunhill Neighborhood Center in the Bronx, New York, to call attention to Nike’s unfair labor practices. The protest drew more than 200 people, 110 of them teens.
Youth attending programs at the center wrote more than 100 letters of protest to Nike CEO Philip Knight and Nike spokesman Michael Jordan, summarizing how much money they had spent on Nike gear, and telling the two that Nike owed them a lot.
After waiting four months for a reply and then receiving an unsatisfactory form letter from Nike, and despite the fact that Nike's chief of public relations flew to NYC two weeks before the event to try to convince the teens that Nike was on their side, the kids took action. Local and national TV channels and The New York Times covered the event.
the result: in the following 18 months, in response to growing criticism, Nike:
introduced new regulations on factory air quality and use of petroleum-based chemicals;
increased the wages of Indonesian workers by 25%;
offered training classes inside Indonesian factories;
opened one factory in Vietnam to independent monitors.