New WRC Report: Southern Apparel Contractors (Honduras)

To:WRC Affiliate Universities and Colleges
From:Tara Mathur and Ben Hensler
Date:March 14, 2023
Re:New WRC Report: Southern Apparel Contractors (Honduras)

Please find here a new report on the WRC investigation and successful remediation of violations of workers’ right to freedom of association, under university codes of conduct, at Southern Apparel Contractors (“SAC”), a factory in Honduras that is owned by Atlanta-based Tegra Global (“Tegra”) and is disclosed for the production of university logo apparel by adidas. Workers reported to the WRC that the factory also supplies non-collegiate apparel to Nike and Fanatics. After receiving the WRC’s findings, Tegra agreed to take the corrective actions the WRC recommended, without requiring the WRC, in this case, to engage with adidas or the factory’s non-collegiate buyers.

In May 2022, SAC suspended six employees without pay for having led a one-hour work stoppage inside the factory in which roughly 200 other employees also participated. The protest was precipitated by SAC informing the plant’s workers that they would be required to “repay” the company, by working over a weekend, for a day of work that had been lost as a result of a wide scale transportation strike in the country (which the workers and their union had no involvement in or responsibility for).

Approximately 200 of the factory’s workers responded to this demand made by factory management by stopping work and protesting for approximately one-hour. Although SAC then rescinded its announcement that the employees would have to work the extra weekend shift (which, as the union accurately noted, would have violated the factory’s collective bargaining agreement), the company then singled out and suspended a group of six workers for five days without pay who were identified by management as having led the work stoppage.

The WRC conducted an in-depth inquiry into the events surrounding the workers’ protest, which included interviewing factory workers and reviewing video footage provided by Tegra that had been taken of the protest inside the plant. The WRC concluded that the evidence showed that SAC management had violated the six workers’ right to freedom of association when it suspended them for leading what was clearly a non-violent protest.

The WRC shared with Tegra a report of our findings along with recommended corrective actions necessary for the factory to comply with university and brand codes of conduct. Tegra agreed to implement all of the WRC’s recommendations, including:

  • Providing full back pay to the six workers whom the company had suspended to compensate them for their loss of wages;
  • Removing from their personnel records any disciplinary notices related to the work stoppage; and
  • Issuing a communication to all workers affirming the factory’s commitment to respect freedom of association.

To its credit, Tegra undertook these corrective actions in direct response to the WRC’s findings and recommendations, without requiring the WRC to engage with adidas or the factory’s non-collegiate buyers.

As always, please let us know if you have any questions.