Sweatshop protest comes to Adidas


Machinist Lodge 1005 member Mike McLaren and a dozen co-workers took part in a Dec. 2 protest at Adidas campus in Portland. | PHOTO BY DON McINTOSH

German-headquartered shoemaker Adidas basked in its own virtue when it cancelled its partnership to make Yeezy shoes for Ye, after the rapper formerly known as Kanye West made anti-Semitic comments. But when several dozen Portland activists arrived as a delegation to Adidas’ Portland campus Dec. 2, they found it locked up tight, all entryways blocked by metal fences and guarded by as many as 20 security guards.

The delegation was headed by Kalpona Akter, president of the Bangladeshi Garment and Industrial Worker Federation, and about half the participants were from Machinists Lodge 1005.

Akter has a history of calling for improved conditions for workers making Adidas products. For example, in Myanmar, which has one of the worst human rights records in the world, garment workers earn less than $3 a day to produce soccer apparel for Adidas. 

Coinciding with soccer’s World Cup, Akter billed the action a “red card” protest. The purpose of the delegation was to present a petition to Adidas management, but activists couldn’t get in, and no one from management came out. A security guard pledged to pass it on to company management. 

The petition calls on Adidas sign a binding agreement on wages, severance, and the freedom to organize.

Noted Bangladeshi anti-sweatshop activist Kalpona Akter led a delegation approaching the Portland Adidas campus. But they got a cold reception when they arrived. | PHOTO BY DON McINTOSH


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