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Reply #5: Alcoa Sweatshops in Honduras [View All]

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Judi Lynn Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Apr-25-08 04:56 AM
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5. Alcoa Sweatshops in Honduras
Alcoa Sweatshops in Honduras

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Message from USW International President Leo W. Gerard

To: All USW Members and Interested Parties

Did you think that union busting and the worst sweatshop abuses in the global economy are always in textile factories where clothes are made for the American marketplace? If so, think again.

Though Alcoa has long been a driving force in the global race to the bottom, they have reached a new low even for them in Honduras. Their workplaces there are now disgusting sweatshops with rampant worker exploitation and abuse. Workers being fired for organizing a union, sweatshops wages, sexual harassment, mental abuse, workers cheated of their wages, filthy inoperable bathrooms, forced overtime are the daily realities for Alcoa workers in Honduras.

After National Labor Committee Director Charles Kernaghan brought this situation to my attention, I asked District 7 Director and Alcoa bargaining Chair Jim Robinson, International Affairs Director Jerry Fernandez and Rapid Response Director Tim Waters to work with Kernaghan to investigate the situation and report to me on the accuracy of the initial reports I had heard. As it turns out, the Honduran workers situation was even worse than we first expected.

Not only are there exploitation and sweatshop abuses, but the entire leadership of the newly formed union has been illegally fired. This is a clear violation of Honduran labor law and the Labor Ministry of Honduras is actually fighting to get the union leadership reinstated and to bring justice to the situation. Alcoa claims that the fact that the entire union leadership was fired was just a coincidence and that it is really just part of a company-wide layoff. Of course, they have failed to address why brand new temporary workers were kept working while the more senior union leaders were forced to leave the plant surrounded by security guards.

According to Waters, who went to Honduras to personally interview the workers for me and to strategize with the leadership of the new union: These are the type of sweatshop situations we usually expect to find only in the worst apparel factories in China and Bangladesh, not in so-called high tech workplaces operated by Alcoa in Central America. I can tell you I have stood in sweatshops in the south of China that were more humane workplaces than this. Workers forced to defecate in their pants because Aloca supervisors wont let them go to the bathroom, continuous verbal assault, sexual harassment, women forced to disrobe to prove to supervisors they are truly having their period (and thus really need to use the bathroom), disgustingly low wages and union busting are all Alcoa trademarks in Honduras.

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