LaborNet logo

Labor Newsline logo



Labor Alerts (5,700 subscribers): a free service of Campaign for Labor Rights, a member of the Alliance for Global Justice To subscribe or unsubscribe, send a message to <> Web site: <> Phone: (541) 344-5410 Fax: (541) 431-0523 Membership/newsletter: Send $35.00 to Campaign for Labor Rights, 1247 "E" Street SE, Washington, DC 20003. Sample newsletter available on request.

VICTORIES!!! AND OTHER SWEATSHOP NEWS posted December 16, 1999

In this alert: Corrections 1. Banana worker wages 2. Liz Claiborne postal address El Salvador 1. Possible Liz Claiborne victory 2. Health care worker strike continues Nicaragua 1. Union victory at Chih Hsing 2. Strike declared legal at Jem III 3. Investigation backs workers at Chentex Haiti: Grand Marnier-Lapostelle plantation workers Farmworkers 1. Oregon: Report on call-in day 2. Florida: Tomato workers walk-out over wages 3. North Carolina: Mt. Olive pickle boycott Simultaneous farmworker speaking tours 1. Midwest tour Feb. 28-March 10 2. Mid-Atlantic tour Feb. 28-March 10 DC: World Bank/IMF mobilizations April 9-17 Labor delegation to El Salvador January 15-22 Resources 1. Anti-sweat list serve for high school activists 2. Sweatshop activist organizing packet

<><><><><> CORRECTIONS

1. BANANA WORKER WAGES: Our December 13 alert included erroneous wage figures for banana workers. In Guatemala, the Del Monte non-union replacement workers are receiving $4.29 per day (not, as we had reported, per hour), compared with the $5.29 per day (not per hour) which the union workers had received. In the same alert, we reported that workers on unionized plantations in Guatemala and Costa Rica receive close to $10 a day plus benefits. The $10 per day figure applied only to Costa Rica. Furthermore, $10 represents an average of present wages (about $7.26 per day) and wages of about $14.50 per day prior to the recent banana crisis.

2. LIZ CLAIBORNE POSTAL ADDRESS: Our December 4 alert gave an incorrect address (should have been 1441, instead of 1141). The complete correct address is: Ms. Roberta Karp, Vice President, Liz Claiborne Inc., 1441 Broadway, New York, NY 10018.

<><><><><> EL SALVADOR


Thanks to all who responded to the alert! The National Labor Committee [NLC: (212) 242-3002, <>] reports that, in response to pressure for reinstatement of the fired Doall workers, Liz Claiborne has:

1.) Called upon its contractor, Doall, to reinstate the 39 workers fired for organizing a union; 2.) Publicly commitment itself to respect freedom of association and collective bargaining without repression or reprisals; and 3.) Agreed to verification by the Independent Monitoring Group of El Salvador, GMIES - and not by PriceWaterhouse Coopers.

The NLC and others are monitoring events closely. After consulting with the fired workers, CTS, SETDESA, CENTRA and other unions, human rights and women's organizations, the NLC has called off an emergency delegation of the NLC, People of Faith Network, USAS, New Economy Communications, UNITE and the Steelworkers, which was scheduled to arrive in El Salvador on Tuesday, December 14. The NLC also has delayed plans for leafleting Liz Claiborne stores during the holiday season.

Should these moves by Liz Claiborne and Doall turn out to be a delaying tactic in order to get through the prime holiday shopping period, the NLC will respond with a national alert, leafleting of stores and the emergency delegation.

The Committee in Solidarity with the People of El Salvador (CISPES) adds: "According to our partners in El Salvador, [Doall], the Vice President of Liz Claiborne and worker (union) representatives are currently involved in negotiations. The workers and organizers of the factory request that there be no international pressure on Liz Claiborne or the government of El Salvador regarding the firings while negotiations are going on. They are concerned that pressure could jeopardize these negotiations. As the discussions proceed, we may be requested to resume pressure. If the negotiations fail, international pressure will be crucial."

2. HEALTH CARE WORKER STRIKE CONTINUES: As of December 10, tens of thousands of Salvadoran health care workers were continuing their (now 4-week) strike to protest planned privatization of the nation's health care system, which would result in deteriorated service and would smash the union. Using privatization to bust public sector unions, the strongest union sector in many countries, is a global strategy of the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund and the World Trade Organization. Destroying those unions would make it significantly more difficult to organize sweatshop workers in free trade zones. For action suggestions, contact CISPES: (212) 229-1290, <>.

<><><><><> NICARAGUA

1. UNION VICTORY AT CHIH HSING: The National Labor Committee reports that, after two union organizing drives were stopped through mass illegal firings, on the third attempt the workers won. Their union now has legal recognition and is affiliated with the Sandanista Worker Central (CST).

2. JEM III STRIKE DECLARED LEGAL: The National Labor Committee and the Nicaragua Network [(202) 544-9355, <>] report that, in an historic first in Nicaragua's maquiladora sector, a strike at the Jem III factory was declared legal by the Ministry of Labor. The 401 workers went on strike last week over a violation of work assignment policies. Management had fought to have the strike declared illegal and now will have to negotiate with the union. Jem III is a U.S.-owned factory headquartered in San Fernando, California. It produces clothing for Wal-Mart.

3. INVESTIGATION BACKS WORKERS AT CHENTEX: The National Labor Committee reports that an investigation by Nicaragua's national police confirms that 106 workers at the Chentex factory were victims of industrial poisoning in an incident which took place on November 15. After the workers fell ill - choking, fainting and gasping for breath - the Ministry of Labor declared that the union workers had released tear gas and poisoned themselves. This absurd claim was thrown out by the national police, who investigated the factory and condemned its serious overcrowding and lack of ventilation. Chentex produces garments for JC Penney.


Batay Ouvriye, a worker organization in Haiti, requests international pressure on Novella Enterprises in Haiti and the Marnier-Lapostelle company in France in support of demands by the Haitian workers who pick the oranges and separate and dry the peel that is used to produce Grand Marnier, the famous cognac-based orange liquer. Plantation workers barely make even the legal daily minimum wage of 35 gourdes (US$2). Pickers and peelers are paid at piece rate and must maintain a furious pace throughout the day to bring in enough to survive. The plantation lacks even the most basic toilet or washing facilities, creating special problems for the orange peelers, who suffer irritation to the hands and face from the citric acid juice. Constant exposure to the acidic spray also causes respiratory and digestive problems. Workers can claim neither the sick leave nor the annual holidays mandated by Haitian labor law. The workers have formed a union. Negotiations with management have been unproductive. For action suggestions, contact the Haiti Support Group <>.

<><><><><> FARMWORKERS

1. OREGON: REPORT ON CALL-IN DAY: Bringing together students from several universities in the state, the Oregon farmworker union [PCUN: (503) 982-0243, <>] organized a protest outside the NORPAC growers' annual meeting, held December 7 on the campus of Oregon State University. To avoid a recurrence of earlier protests, the growers had gone to great lengths not to disclose the time, date or location of the meeting - to no avail. Meanwhile, calls, faxes and email flooded NORPAC headquarters - so many that NORPAC eventually altered its web site in order to prevent email from "unauthorized sources." Thanks to all who responded to the alert!

2. FLORIDA: TOMATO WORKERS WALK-OUT OVER WAGES: On December 13, hundreds of tomato pickers in Immokalee walked out to protest 20 years of falling wages in Florida's $500 million tomato industry. This was the third time in five years that area farmworkers have struck because of inadequate wages. They call for dialogue with the major tomato growers in southwest Florida to discuss wages and conditions. For action suggestions and more information, contact the Coalition of Immakalee Workers: (941) 657-8311, <>.

3. NORTH CAROLINA: MT. OLIVE PICKLE BOYCOTT: Since 1997, the Farm Labor Organizing Committee (FLOC) has been organizing migrant farmworkers who harvest cucumbers for the south's largest pickle company, located in Mt. Olive, NC. The union initiated a boycott in March of this year after company officials refused to negotiate a contract to improve wages and conditions for some 5,000 workers. To join more than 166 organizations which have endorsed the boycott of Mt. Olive pickles, contact FLOC at (419) 243-3456, <>.



To bring an Oregon farmworker and a staffperson from the Oregon farmworker union PCUN to your community or campus, contact Campaign for Labor Rights Midwest regional organizer Emily LaBarbera-Twarog at (773) 252-6413, <> or mid-Atlantic regional organizer Melinda St. Louis at (202) 544-9355, <>.


What next after the World Trade Organization (WTO) protests in Seattle? There is growing interest in the possibility of a series of actions in Washington, DC, beginning with the Jubilee 2000 mobilization on April 9 and culminating in a massive mobilization on April 16 (shut down the International Monetary Fund meeting!) and April 17 (shut down the World Bank meeting!) The DC mobilizations would be followed by three regional actions on May Day, May 1 - In New York: Shut down Wall Street! In Chicago: Shut down the Board of Trade! And in San Francisco: Shut down the Pacific Stock Exchange! All events would be non-violent and there would be training in civil disobedience in the week leading up to April 16 and 17. Stay tuned for more news.


For information and application form, contact CISPES at (212) 229-1290, <>.

<><><><><> RESOURCES

1. ANTI-SWEAT LIST SERVE FOR HIGH SCHOOL ACTIVISTS: A list serve has just been created for high school students who want to be involved in the struggle against sweatshops. To subscribe, send a blank email to <>.

2. SWEATSHOP ACTIVIST ORGANIZING PACKET, from Campaign for Labor Rights: Order by email <> or phone (541) 344-5410. Include your postal address: Packet is in hard copy. Packet includes donation form and return envelope. $10 suggested donation.

Online communications for a democratic labor movement.
This page is maintained by
Copyright 1999 LaborNet