Thursday, August 30, 2007


Here are some updates based on a phone conversation between Angelina and the Liz Claiborne reps:

The Future of Cimatextiles
The president of the company that operates the factories announced late last week that Cimatextiles is not going to reopen. Ever. It is going to be converted to a finishing, packing, and laundry facility for Choishin. Inasmuch as there are jobs in that facility, the president said preference would be given to people from Cimatextiles, but those jobs would not be for sewing operators, but for lower level jobs in finishing, packing and laundry. When asked what the implications of this for the union leadership who have remained on payroll during these three months might be, Daryl and George (of Liz Claiborne) said they were unsure. About the closure of Cimatextiles, Daryl said "this is downsizing; it could be worse."

Agreement to Re-Open
Daryl and George consulted their representative in Guatemala, Fernando Pinsiri, on the agreement signed between management and unions, and Pinsiri told them there is no specific commitment in the agreement to reopen on 9/1, so therefore if the factory doesn't reopen they are not reneging on any commitment.

Closure of Choisin?
George talked to Pinsiri about the closure of Choishin. Pinsiri says this is a false rumor. According to Pinsiri, management had been trying to explore the option of "proposing" some vacation time for Choishin but since then received more orders and now has enough orders that they don't need to do this. Choishin is operating (supposedly) at 90% capacity at this time.

George asked Pinsiri about the blacklisting that union workers have encountered and Pinsiri said there is no blacklist. Rather, he said the problem was that there was such a large surplus of labor in Guatemala in general, and so workers have trouble getting jobs, and they might assume that the reason is because they're being blacklisted, but that's not true, "there is no specific list," it's just that jobs are scarce. Here Angelina insisted that that was not believable to us after having heard many workers' testimonies about being turned away specifically and explicitly because of their union affiliation, and in one case a worker being shown her name on a list on a computer screen. She insisted that there was more here than simply an excess of labor and a shortage of jobs, and that many workers had had the blacklisting experience specifically at Hansol, a factory from which Liz Claiborne also sources. They said they would "look into it."

Severance Pay Discrepancies
George talked to Pinsiri about the severance pay still owed to some workers, and Pinsiri said that the reason for the differences of opinion (about how much money is owed) was because management calculated the compensation on the basis of base pay, not incentives, and the workers wanted the calculations to be based on incentives. Pinsiri said that Guatemalan law supports the calculation that management did; Angelina responded saying that the workers had told us that the Guatemalan Minstry of Labor had issued a judgment siding with them in this matter, saying that the incentive pay had to be calculated into severance. They said they would "call the Guatemalan Minister of Labor" to see if he could get them "something in writing" about this.

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To end the post with some uplifting news, Travis and Michelle stumbled upon a protest led by factory workers from 6 different factories. They will be attending another protest with these workers; hopefully more news to come from them soon.

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The workers at the Guatemalan factory CimaTextiles formed a union in 2001. They won a collective bargaining agreement in 2003, and since then have struggled to protect their gains. The corporation which owns the factory, Choi & Shin Co., Inc., consistently tries to break the union's back, and has since its inception. etc. etc. Here is the union's wiki. Here are the pictures from the protest. Here is the urgent action.

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