Over the weekend, human rights activist and Olympic torchbearer Leslie Kretzu ran barefoot through the streets ofPhiladelphia as an act of solidarity with Nike’s overseas factory workers. Bringing new meaning to this year’sOlympic theme of “celebrating humanity,” Leslie used her 0.2 miles of track to draw attention to the unrecognizedmillions who produce the uniforms and equipment that allow athletes to compete in the Olympics.
Following the action she held a press conference with Dan Orzech of the Free Burma Coalition to draw furtherattention to the fact that her Olympic Torch Bearer uniform was manufactured in Burma. Burma, which has been ruledby a military dictatorship for the past 39 years, has one of the worst records of human rights violations.
This is not the first time that Leslie used the Olympic Games as a platform to awaken people to the realities facedby Nike workers in countries like Indonesia. At the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney, she and Educating for Justiceco-Director, Jim Keady, launched a three-week international media campaign following the month they spent inTangerang, Indonesia, with Nike’s factory workers. As an act of solidarity, they lived on a $1.25 a day, the amountearned by Nike laborers.
Leslie and Jim have been instrumental in raising awareness of the grim living and working conditions of factoryworkers who produce brand-name sportswear. As the global anti-sweatshop movement for has spread, so have some oftheir tactics. In September of this year, Olympic athlete Kevin McMahon offered his own message of solidarity withexploited workers at the Goodwill Games in Australia. More recently, the Norwegian Olympic team refused sponsorshipfrom the company, Triumph International, on the basis of its presence in Burma.
- Leslie Kretzu, Co-Director, Educating for Justice.
- Jim Keady, C0-Director, Educating for Justice.
- Dan Orzech, Free Burma Coalition.
- Kevin McMahon, Olympian and activist.