April 14, 2004
Mr. Garry Drummond
Chief Executive Officer
Drummond Company, Inc.
530 Beacon Parkway, Suite 900
Birmingham, Alabama 35209
On behalf of the thirteen million working men and women of the AFL-CIO, I am writing to express my deep concern about the current collective bargaining process in Colombia between Drummond Company, Inc. and SINTRAMIENERGETICA, the union that represents over 1,200 workers in mine and port facilities in the departments of César and Magdalena. I urge you to work with the union to ensure safety for its leaders and members, as well as decent wages and benefits. While Drummond has steadily prospered since opening its Colombian operations, the Colombian workers and their union have confronted both occupational dangers and physical violence at the hands of illegal armed groups.
Drummond can provide safe, stable and fairly compensated employment that will lead to equitable, sustainable development in Colombia, rather than allowing workplaces to become sites of political violence and workplace hazards, as they have been on several occasions over the last three years. During this period, three union leaders have been assassinated and three workers were killed in a workplace accident. Drummond has the power to reduce these tragedies and to improve the lives of those Colombians working in and living near the mines.
The primary concern is Drummond's refusal to include provisions for the safety of union leaders in the collective bargaining agreement. The location of the Drummond mine at La Loma must be considered in the current negotiations with the union. In its 2003 Human Rights Report, the US State Department identified the department of César as a stronghold of the Autodefensas Unidas de Colombia (AUC), who are listed by the State Department as a terrorist group. The AUC continues to have a strong presence in the area immediately surrounding the mine. As a result of the harassment, attacks and persecution that the workers and union leaders have suffered at the hands of the AUC, the union has asked your company to permit its workers to spend the night in the mine facilities when necessary for union business rather than travel late at night on isolated roads. While Drummond gives this permission to its contractors, your company has refused to grant this right to its own employees.
In addition to the security issues, it is also essential that Drummond negotiate a contract with SINTRAMIENERGETICA that provides wages and benefits contributing to the equitable and sustainable development of the region. As evidenced by your increasing investments in the country, Drummond's Colombia operations have proven to be most profitable.
Peace, stability, and growth of the region will benefit both Drummond's long-term investment and the Colombians living in your company's mining and port communities. Such a result depends not only on Drummond paying decent and higher wages for the hazardous work, but also on your providing health, education and housing benefits to your employees and their families.
Drummond must take the lead in eliminating violence and reducing poverty in Colombia. Fulfilling this role is consistent with Drummond's own policy of being a socially responsible corporate citizen wherever it does business.
As you know, it is more dangerous being a trade unionist in Colombia than anywhere else in the world. I urge you and your company to seriously consider all of the points I have mentioned as you negotiate with SINTRAMIENERGETICA, and to bring an end to the deplorable violence committed against your Colombian workers and to help build peace and prosperity for the people of Colombia.
Richard L. Trumka