Blog: May 2009

DR-CAFTA’s White Paper receives failing grade by Washington Office on Latin America

This White Paper report, titled “The Labor Dimension in Central America and the Dominican Republic- Building on Progress: Strengthening Compliance and Enhancing Capacity,” is a self assessment for the member countries of DR-CAFTA with recommendations on how they can improve labor rights and conditions in their respective countries. The countries agreed to make these improvements and wrote the White Paper. The White Paper identifies six areas of focus in order to improve the labor conditions and standards. The six “priority areas” are:

US-African Trade Policy: A No Goer?

For those who are unfamiliar, the AGOA is a part of U.S. legislation and significantly liberalizes market access to the US for 37 designated Sub-Saharan African countries. This acts as a catalyst for economic growth by encouraging governments to open their economies and build free markets. US Congress passed AGOA as part of the Trade and Development Act of 2000, and President Bill Clinton signed it into law May 18, 2000. In August 2002, President George W. Bush signed amendments to AGOA that expanded preferential access for eligible sub-Saharan African counties.

Stuff to Think About

Extraction predominantly involves
the Third World. Resources are stolen from
people who live on resource-rich land. Once these people are left with no value they are then
exploited. This is why extraction has become synonymous with exploitation.
Along with the millions of adults forced into labor in extractive industries, millions of children all
over the world are forced into child labor. 

"Pleasure" for whom?

We write frequently on this blog about ongoing problems of trafficked and child labor on cocoa farms in West Africa that supply for major chocolate companies like Mars.  Since 2001, people all around the world have been calling for Mars and other companies like Hershey and Nestle to support Fair Trade and stop exploiting cocoa farmers in Cote d'Ivoire and Ghana.  One of the major reasons why labor rights are not protected on cocoa farms is that farmers do not receive a fair price for cocoa beans, forcing them to put kids to work and cut back on labor costs.  Mars and other companies have been funding va

Support Workers at Turkish Factory sourcing to Wal-Mart, Kohl’s, IKEA, and Target

Workers at the factory have faced discrimination, intimidation and firings due to their union affiliation. On numerous occasions, the management has forced workers to choose between their jobs and participating in a union. Starting in August 2008, members of the union TEKSIF held a six-month protest outside the gates of the factory. Still, the company has refused to dialogue with the union and continues to intimidate workers. Eight former workers are currently in court, charging that they were wrongfully dismissed for their union activity.

New York Farmworkers Rally for Equality

"That farmworkers are denied disability insurance, a weekly day of rest, overtime pay, and the right to bargain collectively is a moral outrage," said Assemblyman Sheldon Silver at a rally in front of the State Capitol.

"There are rights in our country and they should apply to farmworkers as well," said Kerry Kennedy.

Before marching to the Capitol, a couple hundred people gathered together for a service with stories from farmworkers, song, and a participatory bilingual litany, which included these lines:

We confess that as we go through each day, we hardly ever think about those who labor to grow and harvest our food.
God forgive us, we pray.

Transparency and Accountability is the Answer

I just returned from a tour with Amanda Camacho, a cut-flower worker and president of her union at Papagayo Farms in Colombia, who was touring the country to expose the abusive working conditions prevalent in the cut-flower industry. She participated on a panel organized by the ILRF and UFCW Local 1500 in New  York called "Farm to Grocery Store: Workers in Global Supply Chains Unite!" Workers from around the world, shared common stories of labor abuses and violations of the right to organize unions.

Amanda Camacho: Organized a Union to Defend Her Rights!

We started talking about forming a union because we thought we’d lose our jobs otherwise. The first union was called Sintrapapagayo. We signed a petition to get our union officially registered and brought it to the Ministry of Social Protection. The first registration was rejected because the company was corrupt and convinced the Ministry that we didn’t have all the requirements for registration. They also fired 4 of the main union leaders.


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