Announcing ATCF’s October 8-10 Delegation to Piedras Negras, Mexico and Beyond

Meet maquiladora workers in their homes and communities, find out about current conditions of life and work and learn what strategies they are using to advocate for themselves.  Discover the power and dynamic of collective action.  Our Mexican partners, the Comité Fronterizo de Oberas/os (the CFO), continue to find innovative, often bold ways of organizing despite the financial crisis and the intense anti-labor climate of Mexico—and the world—that they and we are facing.

Tentatively this delegation will pursue a fair trade theme. Piedras Negras is not only the home city of CFO, but also the site of the Dignity and Justice Maquiladora, a unique business model at the border – a worker-owned sewing collective, technically structured as a maquiladora in order to be able to export and sell in the US.

As we head south through Texas, the delegation will visit another worker-owned, woman-led sewing collective:  Ilo de Justícia (Thread of Justice) a project of Fuerza Unida in San Antonio.  Fuerza was formed in 1990 in protest, when Levi Strauss closed their San Antonio plant without notice or severance pay.

For more info or to request a registration form, write to: Judith Rosenberg, chelarose@gradecom.net or call 512. 494.8377.

CFO organizer\’s website

Thousands of Nike workers strike in Vietnam shoe factory

Rueters news is reporting that “Thousands of workers went on strike on Friday at a Taiwanese-owned shoe factory in southern Vietnam, demanding better pay and benefits.”

Here’s the whole story which is posted on Business Report

Thousands strike for pay at factory in Vietnam-paper
April 3, 2010

Thousands of workers went on strike on Friday at a Taiwanese-owned shoe factory in southern Vietnam, demanding better pay and benefits, state-run newspapers reported.

Some hurled shrimp paste sauce and splashed pig’s blood on workers who were not participating in the strike at the Pou Chen Group factory in Dong Nai province, the website of the newspaper Nguoi Lao Dong reported (www.nld.com.vn).

Another newspaper, Tuoi Tre, said the manager of the factory agreed to increase pay by 5 percent but the workers did not immediately return to work, it reported on its website (www.tuoitre.com.vn). It said more than 10,000 workers had walked out.

Pou Chen’s website (www.pouchen.com.tw) lists two facilities in Dong Nai, adjacent to Ho Chi Minh City, which it says produce footwear for Nike.

Photos on Tuoi Tre’s website showed several hundred people standing outside what appeared to be a factory, although the location was not clear.

Workers said the factory provided meals worth only 4,000 dong ($0.21) each, which did not contain enough energy, and they were seeking better meals, Tuoi Tre reported.

A state newspaper in January quoted a planning ministry official as saying tough economic conditions this year could lead to more strikes.

Strikes have happened periodically in factories in Vietnam because of working conditions, and often involving foreign-invested companies.

($1=19,060 dong)

(Reporting by John Ruwitch; Editing by Sanjeev Miglani) – Reuters

Thanks to Team Sweat for bringing this story to our attention.

Fire in Bangladesh sweatshop kills 21

The International Labor Rights Forum (IlRF) is reporting that 21 workers were killed in a fire at the Garib & Garib Sweater Factory in Bangladesh on February 25, 2010. The factory (or as more correctly described, sweatshop) manufactures sweaters for Swedish H&M, Canadian Mark’s Work Wearhouse, and Italian Teddy.


According to the ILRF:

“A government-authorized probe into the cause of the fire said the fire was started by an electric short-circuit on the second floor of the factory. It quickly spread to the other floors filled with inflammable materials such as wool threads and other goods. Lasting nearly two hours, the fire created a thick black smoke and consumed the oxygen in the air, suffocating the workers. The smoke could not escape because of poor ventilation and the presence of unauthorized sheet metal structures that were being used for storage of highly inflammable materials on the roof of the building. Workers could not escape because exits were locked and materials blocked the stairways. The factory’s fire-fighting equipment was “virtually useless”, according to the Dhaka Fire Service and Civil Defence, and reportedly none of the security guards on duty knew how to operate fire extinguishers and hydrants.”

To find out more on this tragedy go to the IRLF website. You can also take action by sending a message to the factory bosses so click the link here and do your part.

And if you want to get involved with fighting sweatshops right here in Houston but don’t know how to go about it, go to Sweat Free Houston webpage and see how you can join them. Or just shoot an email to sweatfreehouston (at) gmail (dot) com. You’ll be glad you did.

Sweat Free Houston benefit show Saturday March 6

This Saturday, March 6, 2010 from 8pm to 2am at Mangos, at 403 Westheimer, there are six, count them six awesome bands playing to raise money for Sweat Free Houston .  The show is open to ALL AGES!  Sweat Free Houston is working to get a sweat free procurement policy passed by the city. For more information check their “about” page on their website.

Trip to Mexico to build solidarity with sweatshop workers

Austin Tan Cerca de la Frontera (Austin so Close to the Border) announces:

Delegation to Reynosa and Rio Bravo, Mexico: March 12-14, 2010
Now in our 10th year, we pursue and celebrate a cross-border solidarity relationship with a grassroots Mexican organization of maquiladora workers; and we invite you to participate.  We go to Mexico to listen: In the wake of US trade and immigration policies, rampant militarization, and an over-load of media, this is one sure way to form your own opinion about corporate- and state-led globalization: talk with the people most directly affected. We go to learn:  Our Mexican partners, the Comité Fronterizo de Obreras/os (The Border Committee of Workers), a woman-led Mexican NGO, has organized for labor and human rights for 30 years.  They speak from experience and will share the reality of their living and working conditions and of their struggle.  In Reynosa and Rio Bravo we will learn about their historic strategies—to democratize unions and make them work for workers; to hold corporations accountable and make them toe the line of the law.  Witness the power of the people–live and in action… organized and enduring… hospitable and friendly. Great food.  Viva la esperanza!

Delegations cost $225, which covers transport from Austin, food lodging, translation, orientation.  Scholarships sometimes available. Passport required. A project of The American Friends Service Committee.  For more information see: http://www.afsc.org/austin/ht/d/ContentDetails/i/18266
or write or call Judith – chelarose@grandecom.net 512  494-8377

Deadline: February 24.


Sweat Free Houston campaign launched

The founder of UH Students Against Sweatshops has finished his doctoral studies and moved on.  Many campus based activist groups often dissolve after key members graduate. That is also the case with UH SAS. They won campaigns and awards and the founder moved on to a new campaign. Thanks to all our supporters especially Lorenzo Cano and Ty Priest.

Sweat Free Houston has organized as of January 1, 2010. Sweat Free Houston Coalition is a group of labor, religious, and other civic organizations that want the City of Houston to pass a “sweat free” ordinance. The ordinance will ban the city from buying garments made in sweatshops.

Check out their website and contact them at sweatfreehouston (at) gmail (dot) com

Southwest Fair Trade convergence in Austin January 30

Save the Date!
Saturday, January 30th 2010
Austin Texas,
AFL-CIO hall @ 1106 Lavaca Street

Come and join fellow student and community activists and leaders from Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado, Oklahoma, and Texas for the 2010 USFT Southwest Fair Trade Convergence. Together we will hear panels and presentations from community activists and leaders about Fair Trade, anti-oppression, community and campus organizing, theater of the oppressed, and how YOU can take it back to your own campus and community. Bring your stories, your friends, your passion and excitement for social justice, and share as we share with you.

Everyone that registers before the 15th will receive a sweet re-usable fair trade convergence bag printed with art work and packed with goodies! The small fee will help defray the costs of the convergence, cover two meals and snacks, and the rest will go to USFT to help events like this continue to happen.

We’ve got a delicious organic and vegetarian breakfast and lunch menu planned and a day packed full of awesome workshops and speakers. In an effort to be sustainable we will be using non-disposable plates, bowls, water bottles, and utensils. Some will be provided but if you can bring stuff from home!

Thanks so much and see you on the 30th!

Learn more and Register here!

We hope to see you there!