Partner Spotlight: Untraflores
UNTRAFLORES is an independent, industry-wide organization of several unions in the Colombian cut-flower sector. It was formed on May 2, 2001 and has since been fighting with various companies for recognition and good contracts for its workers.
Nearly all of the unionists are women, as are most of the workers in the cut-flower industry. The union was created in reaction to a labor conflict at the company Agrícola La Celestina (today known as Agrícola Benilda S.A. C.I.), which began when hard-earned benefits such as food subsidies, transportation, and salary increases for seniority were eliminated for the company’s 1,350 workers. None of the new union members had any union experience, and most flower workers did not know what a union is and what purpose it serves.
Despite their fear of reprisals, the women were united and motivated by the need to defend their rights and the benefits that were being eliminated. Since the creation of the union, several union leaders, all women, have been fired, and unionists are consistently discriminated against in pay and benefits. The union is always seeking support for its struggles to respond to the company’s repressive measures and to pursue legal procedures to demand the reinstatement of the fired unionists, and to continue to defend flower workers’ right to safe and healthy working conditions.
Since August 2007, Untraflores has had some major contract victories. For workers in the Untrafragancia union, however, the contract fight is far from over. Flores de Fragancia, which is a subsidiary of Dole Fresh Flowers, is not agreeing to the wages that Untrafragancia has been demanding for years. Dole has consistently been anti-union and anti-worker and has used fear and intimidation tactics to contrain workers. As a very profitable multinational corporation, Dole has a responsibility to workers' rights to union association and agreeing to a fair contract. Untraflores is asking you to pressure Fragancia to agree to a contract with higher wages then those that have been proposed.