Organizing in Global Supply Chains: Reports from the Front Lines

Date: 

Tuesday, May 15, 2018 - 2:00pm to 6:00pm

Location: 

Communications Workers of America
501 3rd St NW
Washington, DC 20001

Representatives of trade unions, worker centers, and labor rights groups from seven countries will report on their efforts to organize workers in the supply chains of leading apparel brands and retailers, the illegal employer repression and retaliation that impedes these efforts, and how brands and retailers respond to such violations of their own codes of conduct.

With wages in most apparel-producing countries still at sub-poverty levels, and with labor rights violations a chronic and widespread problem for the tens of millions of workers in the industry, the desire for unionization is high. Employer resistance, however, is intense – driven by the price pressure from buyers that continues to define the industry – and brands’ and retailers’ voluntary “Corporate Social Responsibility” programs have done little to protect workers. Nonetheless, these CSR programs continue to proliferate, as brands in sectors like electronics and agriculture emulate their apparel industry counterparts.

Please join us for a discussion with leaders from Cambodia, China, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Honduras, Haiti and the United States. We will hear reports on current factory-level battles and discuss strategic challenges and opportunities, including the prospects for replacing voluntary corporate labor codes with enforceable agreements between brands and worker organizations to provide genuine protection for the right to organize.

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Agenda

Opening Remarks:  Scott Nova, Worker Rights Consortium, and Tola Moeun, Center for Alliance of Labor and Human Rights (CENTRAL), Cambodia  

Panel 1: Challenges to Organizing and Building Worker Power

  • YukYuk Choi, Worker Empowerment, Hong Kong
  • Yannick Etienne, Batay Ouvriye, Haiti
  • Nasir Mansoor, National Trade Union Federation, Pakistan
  • Mar Martinez, Los Angeles Garment Worker Center
  • Moderator:  Liana Foxvog, International Labor Rights Forum

Panel 2: New Approaches to Corporate Accountability

  • Evangelina Argueta, Central General de Trabajadores, Honduras
  • Kalpona Akter, Bangladesh Center for Worker Solidarity
  • Linda Nop, Center for Alliance of Labor and Human Rights (CENTRAL), Cambodia
  • Moderator:  Angeles Solis, United Students Against Sweatshops

Closing Remarks:  Judy Gearhart, International Labor Rights Forum

5:00-6:00pm Reception

This event is organized by the International Labor Rights Forum and the Worker Rights Consortium. Please RSVP to Liana [at] ilrf.org.