Hundreds of Nike Employees Stage Protest of Alberto Salazar After Mary Cain Allegations

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At least 400 Nike employees staged a protest of the company's treatment of women and its steadfast support of running coach Alberto Salazar Monday morning, according to the Willamette Week, Portland's Alt-Weekly.

The walkout picket was reportedly "quiet and orderly," but it came as a response to the rededication of the Alberto Salazar Building, an office on Nike's Beaverton campus named after the Nike Oregon Project running coach. 

In October, the New York Times published a video op-ed featuring former high school track phenom Mary Cain, who claimed she suffered mental and physical abuse under the supervision of disgraced star coach Salazar as a member of Nike’s Oregon Project. 

Amid the fallout from Cain’s comments, Sports Illustrated contacted nine former Nike Oregon Project members, including Cain, about the culture under Salazar, and their accounts, extending back to 2008, validate her claims and paint a picture of a toxic culture where female athletes’ bodies were fair game to be demeaned publicly.

Nevertheless, Nike has continued on with its renovations in the office named after Salazar. According to Willamette Week, the interior of the newly renovated building is "plastered with images" of the star coach.

Employees walked around Lake Nike carrying signs reading "just do better," and "Nike is a woman," among others. A flyer disturbed on campus urged Nike to "walk the talk." 

According to the Willamette Week, Nike learned about the planned March on Sunday and warned employees to not interrupt the rededication ceremony of the building. The company reportedly did not prevent them from marching. 

According to the New York Times, current and former Nike employees said that while Monday's protest was focused on the naming of the building and the company's treatment of top athletes more broadly, it was also about the steadfast frustration that female employees have said they feel at the company. 

Two employees told the Portland outlet that they feel "stifled" by Nike's culture. 

"We need to serve our athletes better," said one of the protest's male speakers.

In the wake of the October news, Nike since shut down the Oregon Project.