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Penn State Restores Adidas Contract

by on May 08, 2013 6:40 AM

Penn State announced Tuesday that it has restored ties with Adidas, a company that produces a small amount of Penn State apparel and other items.

The university suspended its contract with Adidas on March 13. That decision followed protests by United Students Against Sweatshops that were sparked by allegations the company owed $1.8 million in severance to 2,700 laid off workers.

Just recently, Adidas and the workers’ union reached a mutual agreement on compensation. That progress was enough for Penn State to renew its relationship with the company.

“This positive result has come, in part, thanks to the diligent and commendable effort of Penn State students, faculty and community members, who continue to demand fairness for workers in the garment industry around the world,” said Damon Sims, vice president for Student Affairs, in a news release. “Through collaborative effort among students, faculty and administrators, we have been able to bring about a measure of positive change in this case, ensuring that workers' rights remain a top priority for our licensees."

Adidas, which plays second fiddle to Nike in the Penn State apparel world, only produced $6,800 in revenue from Penn State merchandise royalties in the last fiscal year. Despite Adidas' relative insignificance, President Erickson was pleased to work with the company again.

“We are pleased that Adidas has recognized the former workers’ plight, heard our concerns, and the concerns of others,” Erickson said. “Adidas has resolved the issues associated with the factory closure and its impact on the affected workers."

"Though Penn State’s influence in the global garment industry is admittedly limited, we will continue to work together, as a University community, to help ensure that the workers who produce apparel in our name do so under fair conditions and with fair compensation.”

Members of the United Students Against Sweatshops (USAS), who put the initial pressure on Penn State, are happy with the overall result and satisfied with Adidas’ actions since the contract suspension.

“It is incredible what can be accomplished when students and workers come together in solidarity to make real change,” said Penn State student Shelby Mastovich, the treasurer of USAS.

“We not only influenced universities to uphold their codes of conduct and stand up for workers' rights, but we also made a brand recognize that they have a responsibility to the workers in their supplier factories. This shows that there truly is hope in the fight to stop the exploitation of workers worldwide.”

Kevin Horne is the Managing Editor of Onward State and frequent contributor to He is also a Penn State senior, majoring in journalism and political science.
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