Click here to read about the recent
Gap banner hang
With clothing production
in numerous countries, the Gap, Inc, owner of Gap, Old Navy, and Banana
Republic, is a major exploiter of sweatshop labor.
January 13, 1999 a lawsuit was filed against 18 US clothing companies,
including the Gap, Tommy Hilfiger, the Limited, J.C. Penny, Wal-Mart
and Sears. With no US import tariffs, no US quota restrictions, a minimum
wage of $3.05 per hour, and lax immigration laws, the Northern Mariana
Islands--a US Commonwealth in the South Pacific--has attracted a host
of foreign investors who produce clothes for some of the biggest brand-name
labels at the cost of exploiting workers. These companies are accused
of using indentured labor--predominantly young women from Asia--to produce
clothing on the island of Saipan. These immigrant workers must: sign
contracts that deny them their basic human rights; pay exorbitant recruitment
fees that keep them in a state of indentured servitude; work up to 12
hours a day, seven days a week, often without overtime pay; and live
in overcrowded housing in unsanitary conditions. The Gap is the leading
company in Saipan's garment industry, producing hundreds of millions
of dollars worth of clothing." -Sweatshop Watch
Wetlands and other
groups are organizing demonstrations at Gap, Old Navy, and Banana Republic
stores challenging the company to improve the conditions of its overseas
workers. Wetlands is also fighting the Gap's owners' destruction of
redwood forests. " (destruction of redwood forests should link to the
section on Gap redwoods destruction.)
For more information
310 Eighth Street, Suite 309 Oakland, CA 94607
2017 Mission Street, Room 303 San Francisco, CA 94110
Phone: (415) 255-7296 Fax: (415) 255-7498
You Can Do:
"A coalition of
groups is kicking off the STOP SAIPAN SWEATSHOPS campaign. They are
targeting the Gap and other companies producing in Saipan but are not
calling for a boycott" -Nikki Bas, Sweatshop Watch
a demonstration at a Gap store or another Saipan sweatshop producer
for the national day of action on the first Saturday of every month.
to Donald Fisher and tell him that sweatshop labor is out of style:
The Gap, Inc. (Banana Republic, Old Navy)
Donald Fisher, Chairman
One Harrison Street San Francisco, CA 94105
Tel: (415) 952-4400 Fax: (415) 427-7007
to send a fax to Don Fisher from the Web!!
The Global Sweatshop Coalition is an alliance of NYC social justice organizations
with roots in the labor, socialist, and Latin America solidarity movements.
Member groups include the New York Committee in Solidarity with the People
of El Salvador, Nicaragua Solidarity Network, the New York Local of the
Industrial Workers of the World, the Disney-Haiti Justice Campaign, the
Socialist Party, and Wetlands.
Coalition committees meet most Wednesdays, with general public meetings
on the 4th Wednesday of every month. Everyone is welcome to attend all
Coalition Contact Info:
The Global Sweatshop Coalition
Phone: 212-645-5230 Fax: 212-645-6243
Rapid Action Network: The Coalition has
recently joined the Rapid Action Network, initiated by the Campaign for
Labor Rights. Participating groups agree in the Network agree to mobilize
in their communities with as little as 14 days notice at least 6 out of
10 times when asked during the course of the year. The great majority
of the mobilizations will be leafleting actions, usually at retail outlets.
These mobilizations are intended to increase the leverage of sweatshop
union activists when they press for demands such as: reinstatement of
fired organizers, union recognition and good-faith contract bargaining.
The goal of the mobilizations is worker empowerment through free trade
unions and collective bargaining.
To learn more about the Rapid Action Network, or to sign your group
up to the Network, click here.
SUPPORT NICARAGUAN WORKERS!!!
Unions in Nicaragua's Las Mercedes free trade zone are facing an escalation
of attacks from factory owners. Nicaragua has the smallest free trade
zone sector in Central America, but with the highest percentage of unionized
export factories. It would be a setback for the entire region if these
union-busting attacks were to succeed.
Hundreds of Chentex union members have been on strike since Tuesday
after their attempts to negotiate for a salary increase failed and management
announced plans to fire the union leadership (9 workers) and close at
least one production line. The Ministry of Labor has not yet ruled the
strike legal or illegal and has not yet approved the firing of the 9
Workers stopped work for one hour on May 2. Approximately 30 workers,
including the 9 union leaders, spent that night in the factory. The
company called in police to monitor the situation. Other workers arrived
at the factory the following morning, but the work stoppage continued.
Throughout the day on May 3, more than 500 workers supported the union
leaders in the strike. "If we let them fire the union leaders, we won't
have any protection. We will be next," said a supporter.
The protest stems from eight months of attempted negotiations for a
salary increase. Chentex is part of a Taiwanese consortium of maquilas
in the free trade zone, all of which received a salary increase in March.
However, Chentex workers said that their increase was insubstantial.
One worker pointed out that her salary increase amounted to only $0.32
a week. Union representatives say they tried multiple times to negotiate
with the management, asking for mediation from the Ministry of Labor,
but were unsuccessful. Management claims that financial difficulties
make another salary increase impossible.
Workers and management met during the week of April 24 at the Nicaraguan
Ministry of Labor, where workers again asked for a salary increase.
They stated that they warned the Ministry of Labor and management of
their plans to strike if they did not receive a response by May 2. Management
responded by threatening to close an entire production line. Management
then applied to the Ministry of Labor for permission to fire the 9 union
officers for the CST union. This proposed action has not yet been approved.
After being notified on May 3 that their union leadership may be fired,
the workers went on strike.
In an interview, Lucas Wong, representative for the consortium, defended
the decision to fire the union leadership. "We have to do something,
because if we don't the union just thinks we can't touch them. There's
no discipline." Wong said the management is "tired of this problem"
and claimed that the union "is not a normal union." [CLR note: Perhaps
he means that it is not like company-controlled unions, which also have
a presence in the free trade zone.]
Maria del Carmen Pena, Inspector for the Labor Department of the Ministry
of Labor, Industrial Sector, said she plans to investigate the conflict
this week and will decide late next week whether to approve the firings.
She also is investigating the legality of the work stoppage. Both sides,
management and workers, will have four days to present their cases.
Chentex employs approximately 1,800 workers in Managua's free trade
zone. It produces clothing under the Arizona and Bugle Boy labels for
JC Penney and Kmart. The union formed in 1998 and has a collective bargaining
agreement with management. It has traditionally been one of the strongest,
most active unions in the free trade zone. This attempt to dismantle
it represents a serious threat to organizing in Nicaragua's maquila
Chentex workers went to the Ministry of Labor on May 4 to denounce the
company's attempt to fire the union leadership. The Ministry has not
yet ruled on the firings or the strike, but is expected to do so very
soon. The workers have asked for international solidarity in pressuring
the Ministry of Labor not to approve the firings, to declare the strike
legal and to direct Chentex management to negotiate with workers.
Since early January, Mil Colores has fired more than 200 union members
and leaders. Also, 68 face trumped-up criminal charges and possible
prison sentences. These workers already had difficulty scraping by on
wages as low as 20 cents per hour. Now that they have no paycheck, they
are wondering how to feed their families. The possibility of prison
sentences makes the situation even more frightening for many of them.
The Federation of Textile, Garment, Leather and Shoe Workers (which
represents workers at Mil Colores and other factories in Nicaragua's
Las Mercedes free trade zone) has asked us to pressure the companies
which have clothing produced at Mil Colores.
Leafleting will take place at Target stores (Target, Mervyn's, Dayton's,
Hudson's, Marshall Fields) and Kohl's stores. CLR has fliers and leaflet
masters available for organizers. If you'd like to organize a leafleting
event, please contact Campaign for Labor Rights at CLR@igc.org
or (541) 344-5410 and tell them the specifics: store, location, date,
time, organizations involved. If you are interested in joining an action
already being planned in your community, CLR can help connect you with
the organizers. Leaflets are also available in Spanish. Call for details.
To learn more
about the workers' struggle at Chentex, click
To learn more about the workers' struggle at Mil Colores, click
Campaign for Labor Rights
in Solidarity with the People of El Salvador: Global Sweatshops
Labor Rights Fund (ILRF)
New York State Labor-Religion Coalition Campaign for Sweat-free Schools
Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire
Student Anti-Sweatshop Groups
Campaign @ Sarah Lawrence
College of New York Students Against Sweatshops
University Students Against Sweatshops
Mobilization Against Sweatshops @ NYU
of indigenous people that has characterized Western coloniaism and imperialism
hs not ended. Around the world, indigenous people are engaged in desperate
struggle to defend the their culture, theirenvironment, and their lives.
Indenous people face forced relocation, massive pollution, and outright
murder at the hands of multinational corporations and neoliberal governments.
Wetlands has been
actively worked in solidarity with indgenous peopke's struggle for many
Among other projects,
the Dineh (Navajo) in their fight against forced relocation.
the Ijaw and Ogoni of Nigeria in their struggle for surviv al against
mutli-national oil conglomerates and the Nigerian military dictatorship.
indgenous groups in the Burmese rainforest like the Karen, who are
thereated by yhe constrution of a natiural gas pipeline on their ancestral
have organzied public events to publicize the case of Native American
political prisoner Leonard Peltier.
to break the sinece around the genocide of the U'wa of Colombia.
reparations and clean-up of the ecological disaster left in the rainforest
homeland of Ecuador's indigenous people by Texaco.
Con Ed-supported hydro-electricity projects in Quebec that threatened
the homeland of the Cree people.
the destruction of the British Colombian forest home of First nation
peoples like the Nuxalk.
Environmental Justice Now!, a recent conference with a major focus
on indigenous environmental justice issues.