Four unions representing over three million workers in the US and Canada have called on the United Nations to review Nike's affiliation with the UN Global Compact because Nike systematically violates workers' rights.
The UN Global Compact is an initiative that corporations seeking to cast themselves as socially responsible affiliate to. In doing so, they commit to the nine Compact principles on human rights, labour rights and the environment. Nike affiliated itself to Compact in 2000.
In a letter to UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, Presidents of the four unions claim that Nike systematically violates Compact's Principle Three, that businesses should uphold the freedom of association and the effective recognition of the right to collective bargaining.
The unions cite Nike's ongoing restructuring at its Bauer Nike Hockey subsidiary. In 1995, when Nike purchased Bauer, the hockey clothing and equipment producer employed over 1,100 union-represented workers at three facilities in Canada. Bauer Nike Hockey recently announced plans to shut two of the facilities and drastically downsize the third.
Aside from Bauer Nike Hockey, none of Nike's over 23,000 employees are unionised.