PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — On Friday afternoon, demonstrators are heading to Adidas’s North American Headquarters in Portland to protest in support of garment workers’ rights.
Billy Yates, the U.S. director for the Pay Your Workers campaign, is one of the labor activists taking to the streets.
“The Pay Your Workers campaign is an international effort by over 260 union and labor organizations around the world that is demanding that brands like Adidas pay workers for money that was stolen during the pandemic, respect workers rights across the supply chain, sign on and negotiate directly with garment worker unions,” he said.
According to Yates, Adidas took advantage of employees who were producing apparel for the brand during the pandemic, by refusing to pay them severance.
“In April 2020, I was told to put a thumbprint on a document to receive my wages. Hidden under the pay slip was a line stating it was a notice of resignation. That day I was scammed along with all my other coworkers; we lost our jobs,” Chhom Chhorpesal said in a release. Chhorpesal is a former employee at Hulu Garment, which is an Adidas supplier in Cambodia. “Hulu Garment has refused to rehire many of us and never gave us severance, claiming that we voluntarily resigned. We are calling on Adidas to ensure we get paid.”
Pay Your Workers reports that across eight Cambodia-based Adidas supplier factories, workers are owed $11.7 million for the first 13 months of the pandemic.
The upcoming protest is happening during the FIFA World Cup 2022, for which Adidas is the official supplier.
World Cup jerseys are priced at up to $150, but the New York Times reports that workers at a factory based in Myanmar make about $2.27 per day for their labor.
Globally, Adidas supply chain workers are taking action against wage theft and advocating for their rights to unionize. AdidasSteals.com shows workers from Germany, Pakistan, the U.K., and more who are supporting the efforts.
Kalpona Akter, president of the Bangladeshi Garment and Industrial Worker Federation, will join Yates and other labor activists in protest at the Adidas North American Headquarters.
“This is a problem systematically in the garment industry, but Adidas will not listen to workers unless there’s outside pressure,” Yates said. “It’s unfortunate that it takes public campaigns and that we have to go and do a protest at the headquarters to do what should already be mandated by local labor law — and what any good company should pay workers what their labor is worth.”
KOIN 6 reached out to Adidas for comment, but they did not respond by the time the article was published.