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THAI JEWELRY WORKERS FIGHT SWEATSHOP CONDITIONS,
UNION-BUSTING IN BANGKOK FACTORY PRODUCING FOR NEW YORK FIRM,
AUGUST 8: UNION LEADER FOLLOWED FROM PLANT AND BEATEN

The 600 workers at the Almond (Thailand) Ltd. gold jewelry factory in Bangkok, Thailand face hazardous conditions from molten metal and fumes while earning as little as $4/day - far below a living wage. Last December, when workers organized a union, Almond responded by firing over 40 union leaders and other employees. Almond produces religious and other jewelry that is marketed and distributed in the U. S. by Michael Anthony Jewelers, Inc., a Mt. Vernon, NY-based firm whose major customers include J.C. Penney and the Home Shopping Network.

On August 8 in Bangkok, a union leader from the plant was followed and beaten with a steel pipe by unknown assailants after leaving the Almond factory. That same day in Mt. Vernon, clergy and activists from the Greater New York Labor-Religion Coalition, AFL-CIO, UNITE, Campaign for Labor Rights, National Labor Committee and United Students Against Sweatshops, joined Junya Yimprasert of the Thai Labour Campaign in delivering an appeal from Almond workers to Anthony Paolercio, President of Michael Anthony Jewelers, asking him to take responsibility for ending violations of workers rights at the factory.

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ACTION REQUESTED-Email or Fax Michael Anthony Jewlers:

Please write to Anthony Paolercio, President of Michael Anthony Jewelers, expressing your concern about ongoing violations of workers rights at the Almond (Thailand), Ltd. factory in Bangkok, whose products his company distributes, and demand that he take responsibility for ending these abuses.

Remind Paolercio that on August 8, he promised Ms. Junya Yimprasert of the Thai Labour Campaign and Rabbi Michael Feinberg and Fr. Earl Kooperkamp of the Greater New York Labor-Religion Coalition that he would address this issue with Almond management. Let him know him that since then, we have learned that a union leader from the plant was followed and beaten after leaving the factory in Bangkok. This situation requires his immediate attention and may escalate if not quickly resolved.

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DRAFT LETTER:

Below is a sample of the kinds of letters that need to be sent to the President of Michael Anthony Jewlers to pressure him to follow through on his promise to address the issues of labor rights violations with the management of the Almond factory. Please cut and paste this letter into and email or fax and send it to President Anthony Paolercio, or write Paolercio a letter using your own words.

Via fax: 1-914-664-4884
Via e-mail: apaolercio@michaelanthony.com,
Anthony Paolercio Jr., President
Michael Anthony Jewelers
115 S. MacQuesten Pkwy
Mount Vernon, NY 10550

Dear Mr. Paolercio,
This to request your urgent attention to violations of workers' rights reported at the Almond (Thailand) Ltd. jewelry factory in Thailand, whose products your company markets and distributes.

The Thai government has ordered Almond to reinstate 41 employees who were allegedly fired in retaliation for organizing a union to improve working conditions in the company's Bangkok factory. Workers at this factory reportedly are paid as little as $4 dollars a day and are exposed to hazardous conditions from molten metal and fumes.

As you know on August 8, you promised Ms. Junya Yimprasert of the Thai Labour Campaign and Rabbi Michael Feinberg and Fr. Earl Kooperkamp that you would address this issue with Almond management. Since then it has been reported that a union leader in the Almond plant was followed and beaten after leaving the factory in Bangkok.

As the president of a company that is the sole US distributor of Almond's products, you have a responsibility to help end abusive treatment of the workers who make them. Many of the companies that do business with you, such as J.C. Penney, have policies that prohibit their vendors from engaging in practices that mistreat workers - including violating their right to organize.

This situation requires your immediate attention. Consumers and retailers have a right to know that when products they buy are made under conditions that are abusive to the workers who manufacture them. Please contact Almond president Jonathon Mandelbaum and urge him to reinstate the fired workers, and respect the rights of his employees in Thailand.

Yours truly,

(Your name)

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BACKGROUND INFORMATION:

Michael Anthony Jewelers, Inc., Almond International, and Workers in Thailand

  • Almond International and its subsidiary Almond (Thailand) Ltd. operate a jewelry factory in Bangkok, Thailand which employs roughly 600 workers and produces gold jewelry, including religious designs.
  • On January 2, 2001, Almond signed an exclusive U.S. marketing and distribution agreement with Mt. Vernon, NY-based Michael Anthony Jewelers, Inc.
  • Michael Anthony is a leading designer and marketer of gold jewelry with over $145 million in sales in its 2000 fiscal year. The company's chief executives are Michael and Anthony Paolercio.
  • Michael Anthony markets gold jewelry with religious and other designers to such major retailers as J.C. Penney and the Home Shopping Network.
  • Workers at Almond (Thailand) Ltd. earn as little as 165 Thai baht [US$4] per day, and work a 6-day week. Workers say they are exposed to burns and dangerous fumes from molten metal and acids and are not provided with protective equipment or proper medical treatment when injured.
  • In December 2000, after the company took away from workers customary compensation equal to two months pay, workers at Almond Thailand formed a union.
  • Almond has refused to recognize the union. Immediately after workers registered the union with the Thai government, the company illegally fired 40 union leaders and other employees.
  • On April 19, the Thai government's Labour Relations Commission ordered Almond to reinstate the terminated workers, but the company has so far defied the order. See: http://www.thailabour.org/campaigns/almond/LRCorder.html
  • The Almond Workers and their union are supported by the Thai Labour Campaign, a private non-profit organization based in Bangkok. For more information see: http://www.thailabour.org/campaigns/almond/factsheet.html
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