Brief Update: Jerzees de Honduras/Russell Athletic

To:Primary Contacts, WRC Affiliate Colleges and Universities
From:Scott Nova
Date:December 9, 2008
Re:Brief Update: Jerzees de Honduras/Russell Athletic

As you know, the WRC has found that Russell Athletic’s decision to close the Jerzees de Honduras factory violates university codes of conduct, because hostility to workers’ exercise of their associational rights played a significant role in the closure decision. In addition to violating university codes by acting, at least in part, on such animus in making its closure decision, Russell also violated university codes by threatening workers, prior to the closure announcement, that the factory would be shut down because of these associational activities and that workers would lose their jobs. Workers cannot freely exercise rights of association in the face of threats of retaliation. Such threats are particularly chilling when issued by factory managers, like those at Jerzees de Honduras, who have previously fired workers in retaliation for associational activities.

The WRC has recommended the only corrective action that we believe can effectively remedy these violations: a reversal of the decision to close the facility. To date, Russell has failed to act on this recommendation. Russell has instead proceeded to terminate 300 workers and has begun to remove machinery from the factory, while, at the same time, asking universities to wait for further information before taking any action on this case.  

A substantial number of universities are in communication with Russell concerning Jerzees de Honduras. Whether Russell will ultimately act on the WRC’s recommendation remains to be seen.

We will keep you posted on this critically important case. We also remain in regular contact with the FLA, which has been conducting its own inquiry.

Please contact me if you have any questions about this information or would like to discuss it further.

Scott Nova
Worker Rights Consortium
5 Thomas Circle NW
Washington DC 20005
ph 202 387 4884
fax 202 387 3292
[email protected]