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Student group at Virginia Tech demanding action in relationship with Nike

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BLACKSBURG (WSLS 10) - A chapter of the group United Students Against Sweat Shops at Virginia Tech is trying to get the University to put pressure on Nike to end unfair working conditions in its factories.

They invited a former factory worker from Thailand to speak Wednesday and share her story.

Students gathered in McBryde Hall Wednesday night to hear about working conditions in a country a world away from a woman who has been there.

"The workers were unhappy and they formed a protest. At the end we went to talk with the executives, and the executives were not happy that we were forming a group, so they locked some of the workers within the factory," said former Nike factory worker Noi Supalai.

The meeting was organized by Tech students who say Nike is no longer letting an independent organization, the Worker Rights Consortium, check its factory conditions.

"We want Virginia Tech to, or President Sands to tell Nike to let the WRC back into its factories, because that's what it says in our code of conduct," said Virginia Tech Senior Anu Sharma.

The code of conduct in the agreement Tech's athletic department has with Nike.

Students say if Nike doesn't comply, the school should end its relationship with the company.

"I don't want an answer that says we care about this because of our image, I want an answer that says we care about this because we value people over profit," said Virginia Tech Sophomore Sarah Shinton.

The President responded in an email Wednesday, saying University Relations, the athletic department, and The Collegiate Licensing Company will be looking into the matter.

Supalai says she hopes change comes soon.

"The universities could come together and make this kind of brand responsible for the workers who produce their great products," said Supalai.