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Monitoring group backed by marketers find workplace abuses in overseas plants
AP Business Writer

June 4, 2003

NEW YORK (AP) _ Workers in some overseas factories making products for Adidas,
Levi's, Reebok and other international brands were forced to work overtime against their
will and fired after becoming pregnant or trying to form a union, according to a report
compiled with the companies' cooperation.

The report, released Wednesday, is the first from the Fair Labor Association, a
monitoring group formed three years ago by 12 apparel and footwear companies and 179
universities and their licensees, together with labor and human rights groups.

The report, which charts findings from 185 visits to factories in 30 countries by monitors
hired by the FLA, lists numerous instances of poor working conditions, underpayment,
overwork and other abuses.

The problems have been brought to the attention of the company and the factory owners
and, in many cases, the report also charts attempts by the businesses to correct or ease the

``Finding these kinds of issues is not a surprise to us, but it might come as a surprise to
consumers,'' said Auret van Heerden, executive director of the FLA, which is based in
Washington, D.C.

Some of the problems and violations listed in the report include:

_ Employees at a Vietnam factory that makes bags and accessories for Adidas told
monitors they were often barred from leaving the plant and made to work overtime.

_ Workers at factories in the Philippines, one making products for Levi Strauss & Co.
and the other for Nike, reported being required to take pregnancy tests when applying and
while employed. Those found to be pregnant were not hired. Workers at the Adidas plant
in Vietnam said women who got pregnant were fired.

_ At a plant in El Salvador that makes sportswear for Reebok International Ltd. and
Adidas, monitors were told that workers who tried to form a union were fired.

_ At the Nike plant in the Philippines, workers who were late by a half hour to an hour
were docked 30 percent of a day's pay.

In addition to Adidas, Levi Strauss, Nike and Reebok, the report also tracks worker
treatment at factories making products for Eddie Bauer, Liz Claiborne and Phillips-Van

The FLA's member companies also include Gear for Sports, Nordstrom, Joy Athletic,
Patagonia, Polo Ralph Lauren and Zephyr Graf-X. Conditions at factories used by those
companies will be detailed in later reports.

``Companies that participate in the FLA process commit to exercising their influence to
protect the rights of factory workers,'' Doug Cahn, Reebok's vice president of human
rights programs, said in the release announcing the report. ``The FLA report describes the
progress companies are making.''


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