Wednesday, May 22, 2013 - 4:30pm to 6:30pm
American Federation of Teachers
555 New Jersey Ave NW
Washington, DC 20001
The ILRF Presents:
Down the Supply Chain: Driving Corporate Accountability
2013 International Labor Rights Awards Ceremony
Join us in honoring Senator Tom Harkin for his leadership on international labor rights policies and two amazing coalitions of unions and labor rights organizations – one in Thailand and one in the US – for their groundbreaking work to organize workers across sectors and all along global supply chains.
Senator Tom Harkin has long championed the rights of workers and children at home and around the globe, and made an indelible mark on human rights and social justice initiatives. Senator Harkin’s legacy includes legislative efforts to protect children from abusive working conditions around the world.
SERC – State Enterprises Workers’ Relations Federation: When Sawit Kaevwarn, the leader of Thailand’s largest union, met with migrant workers he decided to stand with them, building up strong solidarity between state employees and the struggling migrant workers, effectively incubating the Migrant Workers’ Rights Network.
The Burmese-led Migrant Workers Rights Network in Thailand: Kyaw Zaw and Hsein Htay came to Thailand as poor Burmese migrants looking for a better life. What they found was abuse and repression at every turn. Rather than backing down, they decided to work for change by forming the only member-based Burmese migrant workers’ rights group in Thailand. Over the last three years, the Migrant Workers Rights Network has courageously exposed labor rights violations at seafood processing facilities producing for the largest U.S. retailers, welcomed noble peace prize recipient Aung San Suu Kyi on her first overseas trip in 24 years to Mahachai, Samutsakorn Province in Thailand, and advocated for major reforms to Thailand’s immigration laws.
Warehouse Workers United (WWU) is an organization committed to improving the quality of life and jobs for warehouse workers in Southern California’s Inland Empire. To date, WWU has worked to document dangerous working conditions in the industry, helped initiate an investigation by theState of California into the largest Walmart warehouse in the region, and filed a lawsuit in federal court against three Walmart contractors and subcontractors, alleging millions of dollars in stolen wages over the past 10 years.
Warehouse Workers for Justice (WWJ) was founded to win justice for warehouse and logistics workers in Illinois. Founded by the United Electrical Workers (UE) as an independent workers' center, WWJ provides workshops so warehouse workers can educate themselves about workplace rights, unites warehouse workers to defend their rights on the job, builds community support for the struggles of warehouse workers and fights for policy changes to improve the lives of warehouse workers and members of their communities.
The National Guestworker Alliance (NGA) was formed after Hurricane Katrina to organize thousands of guestworkers who were forced into labor camps across the Gulf Coast. Today, NGA fights for better working conditions, sensible migration policy, and new protections for all workers. Last year, NGA organized guest workers at a Louisiana crawfish processing plant supplying Walmart after workers reported being subjected to forced labor and threats of violence. With assistance from NGA, guest workers staged a strike at the facility that garnered widespread public support and eventually resulted in the U.S. Department of Labor issuing a citation to the processing plant for serious and willful violations of federal labor law and a fine for over $248,000 in back wages, fines, and penalties.
The United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) has helped enable Walmart associates to form the group, Organization United for Respect at Walmart, or OUR Walmart for short. After repeated push back by Walmart on efforts to form a union, members of OUR Walmart have pursued a creative advocacy campaign to address workplace grievances. OUR Walmart now has over 4,000 members. To date, the organization has successfully lobbied Walmart to change its scheduling policy to create more predictable schedules for associates, helped address workplace grievances by individual workers, and led a historic nationwide strike on Black Friday, in which hundreds of Walmart workers walked off the job for the day.
Event Host Committee
Sarita Gupta- Chair
R. Thomas Buffenbarger
Yvette Pena Lopes
Bill Fletcher, Jr.
Caroline Ramsay Merriam
Mary Ann Stein