The University of Washington announed Tuesday that it is cutting ties with sports and apparel manufacturer Adidas.
The school said the decision to sever ties with the company came after Adidas refused to pay severance to workers at a factory the company closed in Indonesia. This is a violation of the UW’s Code of Conduct, which holds companies accountable for labor violations.
In a letter dated November 9, UW President Michael Young said, “Although I applaud the charitable actions taken by Adidas to address some of the humanitarian needs of the unemployed workers, the company has not, in spite of our repeated efforts, fundamentally altered its position as to the unpaid severance due to the workers.”
Young went on to say, “Indeed, it (Adidas) has provided no indication whatsoever that it might reconsider the position.”
Bryan Pierce, manager of the University Bookstore, sits on the advisory committee that recommended the University cancel its contract with Adidas.
Pierce said the store hasn't purchased anything from Adidas in more than a year, since first learning of the issues in Indonesia. He said they have opted to do business with companies that promote social consciousness.
One such company, Pierce said, is Alta Gracia out of Argentina. According to its website, Alta Gracia not only pays its workers a living wage but also provides workers and farmers with agricultural education.
The UW is the third university to sever ties with Adidas. Cornell University and Oberlin College both canceled contracts with the apparel maker in response to the violations.
In April, Addidas responded to criticism of its labor practices in Indonesia. At the time, the company said, "The adidas Group is committed to ensuring fair labour practices, fair wages and safe working conditions in factories throughout our global supply chain. These active efforts are guided by our core values as a company. Importantly, the adidas Group is confident that we are adhering to and, in fact, exceeding standards our stakeholders expect from us on these matters, including our LOCOG obligations" (full statement).