Over the past quarter century, few athletic shoe companies have retained any semblance of domestic production.
Famously, in his movie The Big One, Michael Moore confronted Nike CEO Phil Knight, skewering him for his atrocious labor practices in the developing world and challenging him to open a U.S. plant.
New Balance, happily, has not been completely seduced by the siren song of overseas cheap labor. While most of their shoes are manufactured outside the United States, a number continue to be made in the company’s five American factories. According to the its website, “In 2013, 1 out of every 4 pairs of shoes we sold in the USA was made or assembled here.”
All with New Balance, however, is not sweetness and light. The fact that 25 percent of the company’s shoes are manufactured domestically may initially sound encouraging, but it pales in comparison to the 70 percent that were made in the United States two decades ago.
And according to the China Labor Watch, its China factories have been implicated in abusive labor practices, including paying employees wages below the subsistence level, denial of the paid leave time to which Chinese workers are legally entitled, mandatory overtime without required overtime pay and firing workers who organized to protest poor working conditions and poverty wages.