Maquiladora Health & Safety Support Network Newsletter
May 16, 2001
Volume V, Number 2
Editor & Coordinator: Garrett Brown ("firstname.lastname@example.org")
Webmaster: Heather Block ("email@example.com")
P.O. Box 124, Berkeley, CA 94701-0124
Who We Are
Letter from the Coordinator
Quotes of the Month
WHO WE ARE
The "Maquiladora Health & Safety Support Network" is a volunteer network of 400 occupational health and safety professionals who have placed their names on a resource list to provide information, technical assistance and on-site instruction regarding workplace hazards in the over 3,200 "maquiladora" (foreign-owned assembly) plants along the U.S.-Mexico border. Network members, including industrial hygienists, toxicologists, epidemiologists, occupational physicians and nurses, and health educators among others, are donating their time and expertise to create safer and healthier working conditions for the 1.2 million maquiladora workers employed by primarily U.S.-owned transnational corporations along Mexico's northern border from Matamoros to Tijuana. The Support Network is not designed to generate, nor is it intended to create, business opportunities for private consultants or other for-profit enterprises. On the contrary, Network participants will be donating their time and knowledge pro bono to border area workers and professional associations.
The Maquiladora Health & Safety Support Network was launched in October 1993 at the annual meeting of the American Public Health Association (APHA). It includes occupational health specialists from Canada, Mexico and the United States who are active in the APHA, American Industrial Hygiene Association (AIHA), American Conference of Government Industrial Hygienists (ACGIH), American Society of Safety Engineers (ASSE), National Safety Council (NSC) and the 25 local grassroots Committee for Occupational Safety and Health (COSH) groups in the U.S. and Canada. The Support Network is continuously seeking more health and safety professionals and activists to join the network, as well as looking for more border community organizations who can make use of the information and technical assistance offered. Please join us!
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LETTER FROM THE COORDINATOR - Garrett Brown
An important battle, but not yet the war, for safe and healthy working conditions of the Breed Technologies Auto Trim and Custom Trim/Breed Mexicana plants in Matamoros and Valle Hermoso was won with the release of the U.S. National Administrative Office report on the plant workers complaint filed under the NAFTA labor side agreement, and of a companion report by two occupational health specialists at U.S. NIOSH after a January 2001 walk-through of the two plants.
The NAO and NIOSH reports (see information below) confirmed what the Auto Trim and Custom Trim workers have been saying for years: that Mexican government agencies (STPS, IMSS and Department of Health) have failed to effectively enforce existing regulations and protect the health of Mexican workers at these plants; and that, years after repeated complaints orally and in writing, workers at the two plants continue to face serious health and safety hazards on site which have resulted in numerous injuries and illnesses.
The fact that these damning reports were issued years after intensive publicity that one would think would alert both Mexican agencies and Breed Technologies (a major US transnational corporation) that good public relations (if nothing else) would require a serious effort to correct workplace hazards shows how far we still have to go in simply securing minimal compliance with Mexican law in the maquila zone.
The key test of whether the NAFTA side agreements will ever work for the benefit of Mexican workers will be what the Mexican government does to "resolve" the workers complaint, now confirmed and verified by the U.S. government. There are other health and safety related complaints that have been filed and upheld by the NAO process the Han Young and ITAPSA cases which are also at the "ministerial consultation" stage of the elaborate, drawn-out NAFTA labor side agreement complaint process.
The experience of "resolving" other NAO complaints about freedom of association issues does not bode well for the health and safety complaints. Not a single illegally-fired worker has been re-instated, not a single independent union has been recognized, and not a single contract negotiated by a membership-controlled union has been signed as a result of the NAFTA-NAO process.
Since the Bush and Fox administrations are anxious to portray NAFTA as a "success story" that should be the model for the proposed "Free Trade Area of the Americas" (FTAA), perhaps the pending health and safety complaints will be "resolved" in a meaningful manner.
Time will tell.
The adoption of a strong anti-sweatshop White Paper (see below) by the American Industrial Hygiene Association, calling for outreach to community-based organizations both in the U.S. and around the world, is a great opportunity for both Network members and for partner organizations on the US-Mexico border.
Working through local sections of AIHA, as well as other occupational health and safety organizations in the U.S. and internationally, AIHA members have the opportunity to reach out to community-based organizations that could benefit from expertise and assistance on workplace health and safety that AIHA members can provide. Likewise, it is an opportunity for community-based organizations to review their work plans and campaigns to see where occupational safety and health can be a fruitful area of work.
Members of the Network who are interested in the follow-up work to the AIHA documents, or members of community-based groups interested in collaboration with occupational health professionals, should contact Network Coordinator Garrett Brown at firstname.lastname@example.org for details.
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NAO, NIOSH CONFIRM WORKERS CHARGES AGAINST MEXICO, BREED TECHNOLOGIES INC
The workers of Auto Trim and Custom Trim/Breed Mexicana won an important battle in their five-year struggle to improve working conditions in the maquila plants in Matamoros and Valle Hermoso when the U.S. National Administrative Office confirmed in April that Mexican government agencies failed to effectively enforce workplace health and safety regulations in the two plants in the period 1996-2000.
At the same time, occupational health specialists from U.S. NIOSH, invited by the NAO to participate in a January 2001 tour of the two facilities, issued an interim report in March verifying that unsafe and unhealthy conditions continue to exist at the plants operated by Florida-based Breed Technologies Inc.
The NAO report was issued on April 6, 2001, and is available on the website of the U.S. Department of Labor at www.dol.gov/dol/ilab/public/media/reports/nao/pubrep2000-1.htm. The NAO report is in response to a complaint filed by the workers in July 2000 under the NAFTA labor side agreement, and culminated an investigation that included a public hearing on December 12, 2000, in San Antonio, TX.
The Executive Summary of the 70-page NAO report concludes:
"Although the U.S. NAO finds that the Government of Mexico conducted inspections and verification visits, the review raised questions regarding the efficacy of these processes. Inspection reports indicate that worker interviews are not confidential, which raises a concern as to whether a worker is likely to feel free to provide any information critical of the employer. Inspectors appear to use a checklist approach in their inspections, noting the existence of work place systems and documents, without actually testing and monitoring to assure compliance. Additionally, the procedures for certifying third party monitors, which are relied on by employers and the governmental authorities are not clear
"Workers offered credible testimony about the unwillingness of medical staff at the facilities to send workers to IMSS [social security agency which operates medical facilities] and of IMSS doctors to diagnose injuries as work-related. Certain physicians apparently work for both employers and IMSS, which creates a concern about conflicts of interest and a physicians credibility in reporting, diagnosis, and valuation work place injuries and illnesses. An appearance of impropriety created by potential conflicts of interest impacts workers perception of the fairness and transparency of the process
"There is evidence that STPS [the equivalent of OSHA in Mexico] responded to a request for inspection from the Auto Trim union in 1995 and the submitters petition for inspection in 1998. However, there is no indication that STPS officials ever communicated their efforts to the workers who submitted the 1998 petition despite numerous inquiries by the workers and their representatives. With regard to the 1999 petitions to the STPS, IMSS, and SSA [the Department of Health], the Government of Mexico indicated that it has no record of their receipt. This contrasts with credible information gathered by the U.S. NAO that indicates that all three agencies received the petitions
"The failure of the Government of Mexico to communicate to the workers about its efforts undertaken in response to the 1998 petition, the lack of records on the 1999 petitions, and the failure to respond to workers inquiries about the petitions are inconsistent with the Government of Mexicos obligations under the NAALC [the NAFTA labor side agreement], which obligates the government to require record keeping; to give due consideration to any request for an investigation of suspected violations of labor law; to ensure that persons have appropriate access to administrative proceedings for the enforcement of labor law; to ensure that proceedings are transparent; to provide for procedural guarantees in those proceedings; and to promote public awareness of labor law."
The interim NIOSH report was the result of January 2001 plant tours arranged by Breed Technologies for staff of the NAO, and is available from the U.S. NAO at 202-501-6653. The NIOSH specialists were invited by the NAO on the plant visits, the first conducted in any complaint under the NAFTA labor side agreement, to evaluate current conditions in the plants. Breed Technologies did not present any information at the December 2000 hearing in San Antonio, but company officials submitted numerous documents privately to the NAO and claimed that the plants were in complete compliance with Mexican regulations. Breed officials contended worker reports of unsafe conditions, stretching back into the early 1990s and continuing after Breed bought the facilities in 1997, were nothing more than "fiction."
The NIOSH report, written by industrial hygienist Aaron Sussell and occupational physician Sherry Baron, found ongoing exposures to chemical contaminants and ergonomic hazards, almost 10 years after the first efforts to improve conditions in 1992. The NIOSH report also critiques industrial hygiene monitoring performed by third parties, which was improperly conducted and did not evaluate the most important chemical exposures on site, and noted that Mexican government inspectors did not perform any of their own monitoring. Serious ergonomic hazards continue to exist in both plants, producing ongoing injuries and disabilities among exposed workers.
A final report by NIOSH investigators is pending and will include specific recommendations, solicited by Breed, for improving working conditions at the two facilities.
The NAO report calls for "ministerial consultations" between the Labor ministers of Mexico and the United States to review "occupational safety and health and workers compensation issues raised in this submission." Ministerial consultations are still pending for the health and safety complaint in the Han Young factory in Tijuana for which the U.S. NAO held hearings in February 1998 and issued its report in August 1998.
With the prospect of ministerial consultations in the Auto Trim and Custom Trim/Breed Mexicana case being months away, attorney Monica Schurtman representing the workers, Pastoral Juvenil Obrera (PJO), and the Coalition for Justice in the Maquiladoras (CJM) has proposed to the U.S. NAO that the government of Mexico act now to:
- re-evaluate injured employees denied compensation of ergonomic injuries and chemical-related illnesses which were denied because of previous inaccurate evaluations;
- re-inspect both plants to correct ongoing safety and health hazards and to order and then verify correction of these conditions by Breed Technologies;
- establish contacts and ongoing studies with the Texas Department of Health which is conducting a study of possible work-related adverse reproductive outcomes (and especially neural tube defects) of women working in the maquiladoras;
- complete the NAO process by providing information requested by U.S. NAO in October 2000 and February 2001 which is still pending.
Schurtman also pushed for the earliest possible date for the ministerial consultations between the Bush and Fox administrations. The workers, CJM, PJO, and the 20 other organizations in Canada, Mexico and the United States who were submitters of the NAFTA complaint, have expressed concern that the "resolution" of this complaint not be similar to the freedom of association complaint at Han Young. The "resolution" of that complaint was a protocol-laden conference on Mexican labor laws at which the Han Young workers attending it were physically attacked and literally driven from the hotel where the conference was held.
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AIHA BOARD APPROVES STRONG "SWEATSHOP" WHITE PAPER AND POSITION STATEMENT
On March 24th, the Board of Directors approved a "Position Statement on Sweatshops in the Global Economy" and a "White Paper on Occupational Health, Safety and Environmental Conditions in Sweatshops." The two documents are available of the website on AIHA at www.aiha.org on the government affairs page including other white papers and position statements.
The documents (see the full text of the Position Statement below) lay out the serious health and safety problems found in sweatshops in both the developing and the developed world, and the impact of sweatshops on the occupational health profession as well as on the workers and their communities. The White Paper includes an appendix with an extensive listing of reports, books, articles and analysis of the issues, which are an important resource of anyone interested in learning more about occupational health in the global economy.
The Task Force also forwarded to the Board a set of 15 recommendations to establish and sustain work by the Association and its committees on sweatshops, prioritizing the twin focus of public education and outreach over the next year. The documents call for AIHA initiatives in joint work with other occupational health and safety organizations in the United States, the 21-country International Occupational Hygiene Association (IOHA), and international organizations such as the International Labor Organization (ILO), the World Health Organization (WHO), and the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO).
The Board also declared its interest in reaching out to community-based organizations of sweatshop workers, both in the U.S. and internationally, to explore possible non-traditional approaches to improving workplace health and safety in sweatshops, including efforts by AIHA members to build the knowledge and skills of community-based groups to recognize, evaluate and document workplace hazards.
The Sweatshop Task Force was formed in April 2000 by eight representatives of AIHAs International Affairs, Management and Social Concerns committees, and was chaired by Network Coordinator Garrett Brown, also a member of the IAC and Social Concerns committees. The Task Force was dissolved following the March 2001 Board meeting and vote.
An exact work plan for transforming the approved documents into ongoing and sustained work by the Association and its members will be developed at meetings of the AIHA Board and technical committees at the June 2001 AIHCE meeting in New Orleans.
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AIHA POSITION STATEMENT ON SWEATSHOPS FULL TEXT
The American Industrial Hygiene Association (AIHA) is the largest professional organization of industrial hygienists in the world, representing 12,000 members primarily in the United States and Canada. Industrial hygienists, as occupational health professionals, provide scientific and technical expertise and perform critical on-site recognition, evaluation, and control of workplace health and safety hazards to workers, communities, and the environment.
AIHA believes workers have universal, fundamental rights no matter where in the world or for whom they work. These rights include the right to a safe and healthful workplace for themselves and the communities in which their employers operate.
Certain characteristics of the global economy have been widely recognized as threatening or weakening these rights. These aspects include economic pressures to seek countries and facilities with the lowest wage rates; sourcing and production chains including contractors, subcontractors, temporary or contingent employees, and other tiered workforces; the lack of adequate regulations and meaningful enforcement by government agencies in many countries; and the vulnerability of local workforces who have no alternative but to accept whatever work is offered.
"Sweatshop working conditions" multiple violations of labor, occupational safety and health and environmental laws exist in both developing and developed economies and appear to be growing. Highly publicized incidents of child labor, extremely low wages, and unhealthy and unsafe conditions are emblematic of conditions found in the United States and globally, often throughout entire industrial sectors, such as agriculture and construction, and garment, sports shoe, and toy production.
Efforts to reduce sweatshops, including numerous codes of conduct and international monitoring schemes, have been inadequate to date due to the following: a) the lack of adequately trained environmental health and safety (EHS) auditors, b) the lack of universal or standardized criteria for evaluating and comparing EHS performance between plants, and c) the lack of involvement of key local players workers themselves, unions, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) who are best able to report and monitor plant conditions because they are closest to them.
AIHA is reaching out in a collaborative approach with other EHS organizations in the United States and internationally to explore both traditional and nontraditional approaches to improving workplace EHS in the worlds sweatshops. A special effort will be made to work in conjunction with local community-based organizations and other NGOs having access to and enjoying the confidence of sweatshop workers.
AIHA recognizes that focusing on EHS problems in sweatshops and monitoring compliance with national and international EHS regulations will not substantially change the powerful economic realities that foster sweatshop conditions in first place. AIHA advocates improvement in the social and economic conditions of developing countries, and of vulnerable populations in the developed world, to ensure all workers are guaranteed basic human rights and economic benefits.
The American Industrial Hygiene Association:
1) calls on the federal and state governments in the United States to enforce existing laws against sweatshop conditions and allocate the resources necessary to achieve this goal in our own country;
2) calls on the U.S. Congress and Executive Branch to support trade and investment treaties that would produce an international "upward harmonization" of occupational and environmental health regulations and practices; and to develop models for procurement/contracting policies by the U.S. government that would incorporate occupational and environmental health performance into contract bidding and awarding procedures;
3) will collaborate with other occupational health and safety organizations in the United States and internationally to develop criteria for minimum levels of training for EHS auditors, to develop criteria for evaluating and comparing plant-level EHS performance worldwide, and to provide more assistance to help small businesses in the United States and elsewhere meet their obligation to provide safe and healthful workplaces;
4) will collaborate with members of the International Occupational Hygiene Association (IOHA), other EHS professional associations, and community-based organizations in other countries to identify, prioritize, and find funding for the development of the human, technical and financial resources needed in developing countries to reduce and eliminate sweatshops there;
5) will look for opportunities to collaborate with community-based organizations in the United States and internationally to develop nontraditional approaches for improving EHS workplace conditions. This may include AIHA participation in strengthening the capacity through training, information, and technical assistance of local students, paraprofessionals, and community members to evaluate, audit, and report on conditions ranging from garment sweatshops in New York and Los Angeles to sports shoe and toy factories in Asia.
Approved by the AIHA Board of Directors, March 24, 2001.
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CHINA, INDONESIA TRAINING SET FOR JULY AND SEPTEMBER 2001
A ground-breaking health and safety training inside a 13,000-worker sports shoe factory in Dongguan City, China, will take place in July 30-August 2, 2001, with the participation of workers, supervisors and managers from three factories in Shenzhen County, staff of non-governmental organizations in Hong Kong, and labor practices personnel of adidas, Reebok and Nike. The four-day training, designed to build the capacity of workers and supervisors to establish and maintain effective health and safety committees in their plants, will involve 90 participants and is being funded by a grant from the MacArthur Foundation. A six-month period of technical assistance to the plant committees will follow the training and a final report on the project will be produced in early 2002.
All the details of the project are available in a Memorandum of Understanding, signed by all participants, which is posted on the Networks website (www.igc.org/mhssn) and that of MIT Professor Dara ORourke (web.mit.edu/dorourke/www/activism.html).
The training team will include Betty Szudy and Pam Tau Lee of the Labor Occupational Health Program (LOHP) at the University of California at Berkeley, ORourke from MIT, Network Coordinator Garrett Brown, and two staff members of Hong Kong University of Science and Technologys (HUST) occupational health and safety program. At least two other instructors will come from Chinese occupational health and university institutions.
The China training was finalized after a March 2001 trip by Network Coordinator Garrett Brown and Betty Szudy to conduct a needs assessment with all participants in Hong Kong and China. As part of that trip, Szudy and Brown also traveled to Jakarta, Indonesia, to conduct a follow-up evaluation with 18 of the 32 participants of the June 2000 training with Indonesia trade unions and non-governmental organizations (NGOs).
Several of the unions and NGOs have conducted workplace health and safety activities following the June 2000 capacity-building course, including the SBSI trade union which published 5,000 copies of an 80-page booklet on workplace health and safety based on materials from the training.
In September 2001, Szudy, Brown and Diane Bush, also at LOHP at UC Berkeley, will conduct a several-day follow-up training with participants from the first course, and will provide technical assistance to participants who will be conducting their own trainings during the time that the US-based trainers are present in Jakarta.
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HESPERIAN FOUNDATION GETS MAJOR GRANT, HIRES COORDINATOR FOR EPZ HEALTH & SAFETY MANUAL
In March, the Berkeley, CA-based Hesperian Foundation received a $300,000 grant from the Rockefeller Foundation to significantly advance the work needed to publish a health and safety manual for workers in the worlds "export processing zones," including maquiladora workers in Mexico. The manual will be similar in format and style to Hesperians widely acclaimed health publications such as "Where there is no doctor" and "Helping Health Workers Learn."
The Foundation has just hired Maggie Robbins, former regional health and safety coordinator for the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) and later for the California Federation of Labor, to coordinate the books development and publication.
One of Robbins first tasks will be to edit and circulate for comment a chapter on hazards to garment workers produced by the Labor Occupational Health Program (LOHP) at UC Berkeley. Network members interested in providing volunteer assistance and technical expertise on this and other chapters should contact Robbins at the Hesperian Foundation, 510-845-1447 or email@example.com.
The grant and coordinator represent a tremendous step forward for the project which was first proposed to Hesperian by the Network in 1997. Since that time more than a dozen Network members have volunteered to help raise money, develop written materials and establish a network of community-based organizations around the world who will be involved in field testing the manual as it is developed. Hesperian hopes to publish the book by 2003.
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NAFTA AT 7 AND FTAA ON THE HORIZON
The US-Mexico border has been in the spotlight recently as proponents and opponents of the proposed "Free Trade Area of the Americas" (FTAA) debate whether the seven-year impact of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) has been positive or negative for workers and their communities throughout North America. Wages, working conditions and the right to form independent unions in the maquiladoras has been at the center of this debate.
Network members are no doubt familiar with the border cases of Han Young plant in Tijuana, the Duro Bag Co. plant in Rio Bravo, and the Auto Trim and Custom Trim/Breed Mexicana plants in Matamoros and Valle Hermoso, as well as the publicity surrounding the ITAPSA and Kukdong plants near Mexico City. Workplace health and safety issues in plants owned and operated by US-transnationals, as well as subcontracted operations, have been and will remain central to the future of the proposed trade agreements and the occupational health profession throughout the Americas.
Four major reports have been issued in recent weeks evaluating the impact of NAFTA and the proposed FTAA agreement that deserve the attention of Network members:
1) "NAFTA at Seven: Its impact on workers in all three nations," published by the Economic Policy Institute in Washington, DC, is available at www.epinet.org/briefingpapers/nafta01/index.html;
2) "NAFTA Labor Accord Ineffective Future Trade Pacts Must Avoid Pitfalls" published by Human Rights Watch in New York City, is available at www.hrw.org/press/2001/04/nafta0416.htm;
3) "The Free Trade Area of the Americas: The Threat to Social Programs, Environmental Sustainability, and Social Justice" by Maude Barlow, chair of the Council of Canadians, published by the International Forum on Globalization in San Francisco, CA, is available at www.ifg.org;
4) "Alternative for the Americas" (grassroots alternative proposal to the FTAA) published by the Hemispheric Social Alliance is available at www.asc-hsa.org/.
In addition to these new reports, there have been several reports from the US-Mexico border itself on NAFTAs impact on workers and their communities. The most comprehensive of these "reports from the front line" is "Six Years of NAFTA: A view from the Inside the Maquiladoras," written by members of the Comite Fronterizo de Obreras (CFO) and available in Spanish and English from the American Friends Service Committee in Philadelphia at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The New York Times began this spring a series of articles, entitled "The Dividing Line" and "Made in Squalor," which have featured in-depth coverage of working conditions in Mexico and other parts of the world.
The articles on Mexico and the maquilas have included:
- February 11, 2001: "Chasing Mexicos Dream into Squalor" by Ginger Thompson;
- February 15, 2001: "Profits Raise Pressures on US-Owned Factories in Mexican Border Zone" by Sam Dillon;
- May 6, 2001: "At home, Mexico Mistreats its Migrant Farmhands" by Ginger Thompson;
Two articles have covered working conditions in maquilas in El Salvador April 24th "Labor Standards Clash with Global Reality" by Leslie Kaufman and David Gonzales, and May 19th "Labor Abuses in El Salvador Are Detailed in Document" by Steven Greenhouse. Another article in the series reported on conditions in Bangladesh April 15th "Lives Held Cheap in Bangladesh Sweatshops" by Barry Bearak.
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TIJUANA ACTIVITIES: TRAINING WITH FACTOR X /YEUANI AND ENVIRONMENTAL CONFERENCE PANEL
In October 2000, Network members and the Labor Occupational Health Program (LOHP) at the University of California at Berkeley conducted a two-day training with Casa de la Mujer/Factor X and Yeuani in Tijuana. The participants were 25 women workers from Tijuanas huge maquila industry and focused on hazards in the electronics, garment and assembly industries. Tijuana exports more than 14 million television sets a year to the United States and involves a large number of Asian as well as US transnational corporations.
The training team included Suzanne Teran from LOHP and Network members Leonor Noruna Dionne and Garrett Brown. Another training with Factor X and Yeuani is in the planning stages for later in 2001. LOHP and the Network may also conduct a training with maquila workers in Agua Prieta (across from Douglas, AZ) in collaboration with the Comite Fronterizo de Obreras (CFO) and the Arizona American Friends Service Committee.
In April 2001, Network Coordinator Garrett Brown spoke in Tijuana on a panel on maquiladora health issues held at the Third Annual Encuentro on the border environment. Other panel members included CFO coordinator Julia Quinones from Piedras Negras, Factor X coordinator Reyna Montero from Tijuana, and Matias Perez from Matamoros representing Pastoral Juvenil Obrera in Matamoros and the Coalition for Justice in the Maquiladoras. The panel was organized and facilitated by Catalina Denman and Leonor Cedillo from the Colegio de Sonora in Hermosillo, Sonora. The environmental conference, which drew more than 400 participants, is held every 18 months and is next scheduled for the fall of 2002 in Tucson, Arizona.
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EVENTS PLANNED FOR AIHCE IN NEW ORLEANS, JUNE 4-7, 2001
In the wake of the AIHA Board approval of the Sweatshops documents, several meetings are planned for the annual American Industrial Hygiene Conference & Exhibition (AIHCE) in New Orleans, June 4-7th. The activities are open to all interested participants at the conference, and volunteers are needed for moving forward with the targeted campaigns of education and outreach. The outreach focus includes community-based based organizations working against sweatshops in both the developing and developed world, as well as other professional occupational safety and health organizations in North America and internationally.
The AIHCE activities on sweatshops and globalization include:
- A report-back from the AIHA Sweatshop Task Force, Roundtable #102, at 10 am on Monday, June 4th;
- An open meeting on follow-up activities at 5:30 pm on Wednesday, June 6th, hosted by the Social Concerns Committee;
- A slide presentation by Network Coordinator and Task Force chair Garrett Brown on sports shoes factories in Indonesia and China at 1 p.m. on Wednesday, June 6th;
- A point on the agenda of the conference business meetings (open to all AIHCE participants) of the three committee that made up the Sweatshop Task Force, the International Affairs, Management and Social Concerns committees. Check with each committee for their meeting times.
In addition the Network will have its third annual exhibit booth, shared with the Social Concerns Committee, in the exhibit area of the conference. Look for the latest information on Network activities and globalization issues at the booth.
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- The Comite Fronterizo de Obreras has launched a new newsletter in Spanish called "La frontera activa" to report on working conditions, maquila workers campaigns and their own activities on the border. In February 2001, the CFO signed an "Agreement for Collaboration and Common Action" with the 1.5 million-member National Union of Workers (UNT). The CFO has active chapters in several border cities including Matamoros, Reynosa, Ciudad Acuna, Piedras Negras and Agua Prieta, and has an almost 20-year relationship with the American Friends Service Committee. Subscriptions to the new newsletter are available by contact CFO at: CFO@comuni-k.com.
- The Center for Latin American Studies at New Mexico State University in Las Cruces, NM, has a great daily news service on-line available for free at email@example.com. The "Frontera NorteSur" news service also has monthly feature articles on a common theme, which have included very informative reports on the maquiladoras ("Border Maquiladoras: An Overview," September 2000) and on maquilas in Matamoros and Reynosa ("Workers and Unions on the Tamaulipas Border," April 2001). The Frontera website also offers an extensive bibliography of information related to the US-Mexico border and other parts of Latin America.
- A "Nike Shareholders for Justice" campaign has been launched by the Living Wage Project led by former university soccer coach Jim Keady who was fired for refusing to wear Nike-branded athletic clothing. Adopting a strategy long used on the US-Mexico border in the cases of Alcoa, Stephan Chemical, Zenith, among others, the Nike campaigners are purchasing shares of Nike stock to be able to file shareholder resolutions and intervene in annual shareholder meetings on the issue of working conditions in Nike-contracted plants. Nike has been the focus on an ongoing campaign in Puebla, Mexico, where the Kukdong factory produced for Nike university-logo clothing for several colleges in the US. Information is available at: www.nikewages.org/shareholder.html.
- The International Labor Rights Fund (ILRF) based in Washington, DC, has launched a new campaign to combat sexual harassment in the workplace. The campaign will focus first on Kenya and then be extended to either Haiti or the Dominican Republic. Planned activities include community awareness campaigns, worker and management education, reform of local laws, judicial advocacy and the "implementation of effective workplace monitoring." The two-year project is being funded under the U.S. State Departments "Anti-Sweatshop Initiative." More information is available at www.laborrights.org.
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QUOTES OF THE MONTH
"Fear of unemployment allows a mockery to be made of labor rights. The eight-hour day no longer belongs to the realm of law but to literature, where it shines among other works of surrealist poetry. And such things as employer contributions to pensions, medical benefits, workers compensation, vacation pay, Christmas bonuses, and dependents allowances are relics that belong in an archaeological museum.
"Legally consecrated universal labor rights cam about in other times, born of other fears: the fear of strikes and of the social revolution that seemed so close at hand. The powerful who trembled in fear yesterday are the powerful who strike fear today, and thus the fruits of two centuries of labor struggles get raffled off before you can say good-bye
"Paradoxically, while workers from the South migrate North, or at least risk the attempt against all odds, many factories from the North migrate South. Money and people pass each other in the night. Money from rich countries travels to poor countries attracted by dollar-a-day wages and twenty-five hour days, and workers from poor countries travel, or try to travel, to rich countries, attracted by images of happiness served up by advertising or invented by hope.
"Wherever money travels, its greeted with kisses and flowers and fanfare. Workers, in contrast, set off on an odyssey that sometimes ends in the depths of the Mediterranean or the Caribbean or on the stony shores of the Rio Grande."
-- Eduardo Galeano, Uruguayan author of "Upside Down: A Primer for the Looking-GlassWorld" excerpted in the December 2000 issue of The Progressive magazine.
"Times have changed since the cold war, but not half as much as we might like to think
A ludicrous notion took root that we are saddled with to this day
It holds to its bosom the conviction that, whatever vast commercial corporations do in the short term, they are ultimately motivated by ethical concerns, and their influence upon the world is therefore beneficial. And anyone who thinks otherwise is a neo-Communist heretic.
"In the name of this theory, we look on apparently helpless while rainforests are wrecked to the tune of millions of square miles every year, native agricultural communities are systematically deprived of their livelihoods, uprooted and made homeless, protestors are hanged and shot, the loveliest corners of the world are invaded and desecrated, and tropical paradises are turned into rotting wastelands with sprawling, disease-ridden megacities at their center."
-- John le Carré, English author of numerous international spy/mystery novels, including his latest on the impact of global pharmaceutical companies. This quote comes from his article, "In Place of Nations," in the April 9, 2001, issue of The Nation magazine.
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- "Mexican Trade Policy: trading Away the Future?" article by Talli Nauman in the May 2001 issue of Borderlines newsletter published by the Interhemispheric Resource Center in New Mexico, available at www.us-mex.org.
- "Uncertainty and Growth in Mexicos Maquila Sector," article by James Gerber in the March 2001 issue of Borderlines newsletter published by the Interhemispheric Resource Center in New Mexico, available at www.us-mex.org.
- "NAFTA System Workers Perfectly: Threats, Beatings, and Machine Guns Keep a Company Union at Duro Bag Co. in Mexico," article by Dan La Botz in the April 2001 issue of Labor Notes magazine, available at www.labornotes.org.
- "Making Fantasies Real: Producing Women and Men on the Maquila Shop Floor," article by Leslie Salzinger in the March/April 2001 issue of NACLA Report on the Americas, available at www.nacla.org.
- "Standing Fast in Mexico: Protecting Womens Rights in a Hostile Climate," article by Marta Lamas in the March/April 2001 issue of NACLA Report on the Americas, available at www.nacla.org.
- "Labor After the PRI: Will Fox Ride Roughshod Over Mexican Workers?" article by Dan La Botz in the March 2001 issue of the Multinational Monitor, available at www.essential.org/monitor.
- "Fox Inc. Takes Over Mexico," article by John Ross in the March 2001 issue of the Multinational Monitor, available at www.essential.org/monitor.
- "NAFTAs Investor Rights: A Corporate Dream, A Citizen Nightmare," article by Mary Bottari in the April 2001 issue of the Multinational Monitor, available at www.essential.org/monitor.
- "NAFTA for the Americas: Q&A on the FTAA (Free Trade Area of the Americas)," article by the editors in the April 2001 issue of the Multinational Monitor, available at www.essential.org/monitor.
- "Border Games: Policing the US-Mexico Divide," book by Peter Andreas, published by Cornell University Press, available at www.cornellpress.cornell.edu
- "Two Mexicos and Foxs Quandary," article by Jerry W. Sanders in the February 26, 2001, issue of The Nation, available at www.thenation.com.
- "Workers Health in Latin America and the Caribbean: Looking to the Future," article by Eugenio Gutierrez in PAHOs Perspectives in Health magazine (Vol. 5, No. 2- 2000), available at www.paho.org.
- "The Selling of Free Trade: NAFTA, Washington, and the Subversion of American Democracy," book by John R. MacArthur, published by Hill and Wang publishers, New York, 2000.
- "Poverty or Development?: Global Restructuring and Regional Transformation in the US South and the Mexican South," book by Richard Tardanico and Mark B. Rosenberg, published by Routledge Press, New York, 2000.
- Republished edition of Leon Steins 1962 classic, "The Triangle Fire," recounts the 1911 fire that killed 146 women garment workers at the Triangle Shirtwaist Company in New York City. Available from Cornell University Press at www.cornellpress.cornell.edu.
- "Raw Power: Plant Closing Threats and the Threat to Union Organizing," interview with Cornell University professor Kate Bronfenbrenner in the December 2000 issue of the Multinational Monitor, available at www.essential.org/monitor.
- "Uneasy Terrain: The Impact of Capital Mobility on Workers, Wages and Union Organizing," report by the Cornell University School of Industrial and Labor Relations, available at www.ustdrc.gov.
- "GE Brings Bad Things to Life, For downsized workers in Bloomington, its time to start thinking globally," article by JoAnn Wypijewski in the February 12, 2001, issue of The Nation, available at www.thenation.com.
- "The Other Los Angeles: The Working Poor in the City of the 21st Century," report by the Los Angeles Alliance for a New Economy (LAANE), available for $6 from firstname.lastname@example.org.
- "Silence in the Fields," article by Barry Yeoman on the agricultural "guest workers" programs in the US in the February 2001 issue of Mother Jones magazine, available at www.motherjones.com.
- "Mergers, Concentration, and the Erosion of Democracy," article by Richard DuBoff and Edward Herman in the May 2001 issue of Monthly Review, available at www.monthlyreview.org.
- "Enemies of Future: The Ten Worst Corporations of 2000," article by Russell Mokhiber and Robert Weissman in the December 2000 of the Multinational Monitor, available at www.essential.org/monitor.
- Trading with the Enemy," article by William Greider in the March 26, 2001, issue of The Nation, available at www.thenation.com.
- "Transnational Cooperation Among Labor Unions," book describing the official structures of international trade union cooperation edited by Michael E. Gordon and Lowell Turner, published by Cornell University Press, available at www.cornellpress.cornell.edu.
- "In Place of Nations," article by John Le Carre on the international pharmaceutical industry in the April 9, 2001, issue of The Nation, available at www.thenation.com.
- "Sovereign Corporations," article by William Greider in the April 30, 2001, issue of The Nation, available at www.thenation.com.
- "Trading in Illusions," article by Dani Rodrik in the March/April 2001 issue of Foreign Policy magazine, available at www.foreignpolicy.com/issue_marapr_2001/rodrik.html.
- "Behind the Swoosh: Facts about Nike" and "Barbies Trip Around the World: Globalization in the Toy Industry," reports available from the Victoria International Development Education Association (Canada) at email@example.com
- "Made in China: A Factory Walkabout," article by Bob Jeffcott in Our Times magazine (Canada), available at firstname.lastname@example.org
- "Chinas Workers Under Assault, Exploitation and Abuse in the Globalizing Economy," book by Anita Chan, published by M.E. Sharpe, Inc., available at www.mesharpe.com.
- "Globalization and the WTO: Whats At Stake for Canada, and What We Can Do About It," report by the Canadian Auto Workers union, available at www.caw.org.
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