Anti-sweatshops Activist to Speak April 21 at SUNY Oswego’s Quest

OSWEGO — Jim Keady, one of the pre-eminent crusaders against sweatshops, will bring his cause and his passion to SUNY Oswego with his presentation of “Behind the Swoosh” at 1 p.m. April 21 in the Campus Center auditorium.

The college’s Student Association Programming Board chose Keady, who has spent 12 years investigating, filming and bedeviling the sportswear giant, as its featured speaker for Quest, SUNY Oswego’s annual daylong celebration of scholarly and creative activities.

Keady produced the short documentary “Behind the Swoosh” after traveling to Indonesia in 2000 with college classmate and fellow activist Leslie Kretzu. They worked for, and tried to live on, $1.25 a day in a Nike supplier’s factory.

“I think it’s really going to be beneficial (to hear Keady),” said Rachel McWhorter, director of the SAPB. “It has ties to lots of majors on campus. Many people don’t think about what we wear, like Nike, and I think it will stir a lot of that discussion and thought.”

Nike, weary of its swoosh logo as target for anti-sweatshop campaigners like Keady, began a three-year monitoring plan and, in 2005, earned accreditation from the Fair Labor Association and praise from former critics. It long has said it works diligently to monitor and improve conditions in its supplier factories.

Keady acknowledges Nike has made some reforms, but the activist says the company has a long way to go in assuring fair wages, factory monitoring and worker negotiating rights.

All events in conjunction with Quest are free and open to the public.