Cornell Ends Adidas Relationship

Cornell University announced last week that the university has ended its relationship with Adidas, the athletic clothing company, because Adidas of how the company treats its workers.

According to a press release issued by the school:

Having followed with great concern the severance issues surrounding the closure of the PT Kizone factory in Indonesia in September 2010, and reviewed Adidas’s position on its severance responsibilities, as well as reviewed the findings of the Worker Rights Consortium… Cornell University is severing its business relationship with Adidas effective immediately. We have notified the Collegiate Licensing Company of our decision.

Adidas closed an Indonesian factory in two years ago and then refused to pay workers their severance.

We believe that severance is a basic worker’s right, as is a living wage, freedom of association and safe working conditions. We are calling on the collegiate apparel industry to develop mechanisms whereby brands can be assured that the factories with which they do business have on hand sufficient and secured funds to pay workers what they are owed should a factory close. This gap in the apparel industry’s approach to worker rights is a critical issue that demands immediate attention.

It is a “critical issue that demands immediate attention,” and it’s good for Cornell to take this moral stance.

It’s worth pointing out, however, that this is a pretty financially easy moral stance to take. Cornell appeared only earned between $1,000 and $2,000 in royalties from the Adidas arrangement last year. That’s less than a single Cornell student pays for dinning in a semester at the school.

Daniel Luzer

Daniel Luzer is the news editor at Governing Magazine and former web editor of the Washington Monthly. Find him on Twitter: @Daniel_Luzer