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Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Mo., accused big corporations such as Nike, the NBA, and LeBron James, of profiting off slave labor in China and introduced a bill to hold businesses accountable for having slave labor in manufacturing their products.
I challenge every major American corporation making products overseas in #China or elsewhere to pledge that they are #slavefree, that they DO not and WILL not rely on forced, slave labor
— Josh Hawley (@HawleyMO) July 21, 2020
According to Hawley, the NBA is a “classic” example since all of their Nike uniforms are made with forced labor in China’s Uyghur concentration camps.
“I would challenge the NBA, Adam Silver, all the endorsers of Nike products like LeBron to take a pledge that they will be slave free, that they will not use in their product lines slave labor,” Hawley said.
He challenged all corporate leaders to take a “#slavefree” pledge. If they cannot take it, “they need to drop the product line.”
Companies who use Chinese slaves in their supply chain
In March, Forbes published a study revealing that 83 companies worldwide, including American businesses such as Nike, Gap, Tommy Hilfiger, General Motors, Apple, Google, and Microsoft, had “directly or indirectly” profited from Chinese slave treatment of Uighur Muslims.
Nike has long been accused of profiting off forced labor through the independent contractors overseas. On Tuesday President Trump sanctioned 11 Chinese firms that use slave labor and other forms of repression against the Uighur Muslims who are an ethnic minority in China. Among the companies was Nanjing Synergy Textiles Co. Ltd., which is owned by Victory City International Holding Ltd. This company manufactures for Nike, among a number of other American companies.
The Washington Post reported this February that Qingdao Taekwang Shoes Co., a 30-year long supplier of Nike that owns the brand’s largest factories and produces around 8 million pairs of Nikes each year, was found to be using ethnic Uighurs from China’s western Xinjiang region. Uighurs were forced by the company to work in harsh conditions in the factory hundreds of miles from their home.
To cover it up, Nike’s website has a statement on forced labor in its supply chain: “Our sourcing strategy prioritizes and favors suppliers that show demonstrable leadership in corporate responsibility and sustainability, seeking to move beyond minimum standards. As part of our growth strategy, we seek suppliers who drive sustainable business growth by minimizing their environmental impacts, fostering a strong culture of safety, and developing an engaged and valued workforce.”
“Nike continually evaluates and updates its systems to identify and address risks in its supply chain, including those related to slavery and human trafficking,” the statement continues.
Slave-Free Business Certification Act
On Monday Hawley introduced the Slave-Free Business Certification Act, that would “increase corporate supply chain disclosure requirements, mandates regular audits, requires chief executive officers to certify that their companies’ supply chains do not rely on forced, slave labor, and creates penalties for firms that fail basic minimum standards for human rights.”
“Corporate America and the celebrities that hawk their products have been playing this game for a long time – talk up corporate social responsibility and social justice at home while making millions of dollars off the slave labor that assembles their products,” the Missouri Republican said in a statement. “Executives build woke, progressive brands for American consumers, but happily outsource labor to Chinese concentration camps, all just to save a few bucks.”
Last week Hawley blasted the NBA for pulling custom gear from its online store following the backlash the league received for blocking “Free Hong Kong” to be printed on its apparel.
Rather than let fans order #FreeHongKong jerseys @nba kills custom gear altogether. Now about the slave labor that helps make all those @nba @nike product lines … https://t.co/BK5dnWbE9i
— Josh Hawley (@HawleyMO) July 16, 2020