Holiday and Russell
On behalf of all of us at the Worker Rights Consortium, I would like to wish you a happy and peaceful holiday season.
I also want to share some holiday cheer from the Russell Athletic workers in Honduras – in the form of the photographs below. They were taken at a recent union assembly attended by more than a thousand workers.
As you may know, the union and Russell reached an agreement last month that represents one of the most significant labor rights breakthroughs in the history of the global apparel industry. The agreement calls for the opening of a unionized apparel factory to replace the one that closed in January after workers chose to form a union. The agreement also includes job offers and substantial financial assistance for all of the workers who were laid off, and steps that will ensure respect for the right to organize and bargain at all of Russell’s Honduran plants, including a commitment by Russell not to oppose unionization in any of these facilities. Russell is the largest private employer in the country. More information on the agreement is available here.
The union’s achievement is astounding in its scope and impact. The agreement with Russell will make an immediate and enormous difference in the lives of thousands of workers and family members and will open the door to positive change for all Russell employees in Honduras – more than 10,000 people. And the agreement also sets a crucial precedent for the right to organize in a region of the world where it has been next to impossible to defend and advance this right in the private sector. The workers and their union received vital support from many sources in their effort to defend their rights – beginning with universities and their faculty and students, led by United Students Against Sweatshops, and including NGOs and unions around the world, from the Maquila Solidarity Network in Canada, to the Clean Clothes Campaign in the EU, to the Solidarity Center here in the US.
The purpose of the meeting featured in the photos was to approve a plan for the distribution of financial assistance to the workers. Over the last several weeks, the WRC has been working with the union and the Solidarity Center to ensure that the 1,200-plus eligible workers would receive an initial disbursement in time for Christmas. On Monday, each worker received more than $1,000.
We thought you might like to see some photos of the assembly, which was an inspiring and emotional event. Two photos are pasted below, after which you will see a link you can click to view additional photos.