Partial Remediation at Textiles Opico (El Salvador)

To:WRC Affiliate Universities and Colleges
From:Scott Nova and Jessica Champagne
Date:October 16, 2017
Re:Partial Remediation at Textiles Opico (El Salvador)

Please find here a memo from the WRC on the partial remediation of worker rights violations at the Textiles Opico garment factory, located in El Salvador.

In a July 2017 report, the WRC documented the factory’s discriminatory termination of workers who were union members. The factory discriminatorily selected union members for dismissal as a part of a staff reduction that occurred in January. Additionally, factory management chose to implement these dismissals in a manner that violated a labor-management agreement that had been intended to remedy earlier violations of a similar nature and prevent a recurrence of retaliatory termination.

At the time that the violations occurred, Textiles Opico was disclosed by the university licensee Team Beans. When the WRC contacted Team Beans regarding the case, the licensee and the factory both reported that the two companies no longer had a business relationship. Team Beans has not yet clarified how this error arose or what steps they will take to prevent such errors in the future.

The WRC also contacted non-collegiate buyers including Lululemon, REI, Academy Sports, Castelli, and Dick’s Sporting Goods, which produces adidas-licensed apparel at the factory. The Fair Labor Association also conducted an investigation and provided more limited recommendations to the buyers.

In response to this engagement, with Dick’s Sporting Goods playing a particularly active role, Textiles Opico took some steps to remedy the violations, including the reinstatement of some of the affected workers and partial payment of back pay. However, the factory refused to reinstate 12 of the workers who were discriminatorily selected for dismissal and provided only a small portion of the back pay that the WRC recommended be provided to all of the wrongfully terminated workers. The workers who were not offered the opportunity to return were all members of the maintenance department; the union had been pressing management to provide personal protective equipment for these workers prior to the terminations. As additional elements of this partial remediation, the factory has also resumed labor-management dialogue and committed to communicate to the workforce that, going forward, it will respect workers’ right to freedom of association.

While the company has taken some positive steps, it is unfortunate that the factory has chosen not to fully remedy the violations. The 12 terminated workers who were not reinstated, along with their families, continue to suffer the consequences of this violation of their associational rights. In addition, the factory has succeeded in sending a message to the remainder of the workforce that workers can be terminated, with impunity, in response to their participation in a union and having pressed for safety improvements in the facility. Given that there is no university licensee currently sourcing from the facility, the WRC will continue to engage with the non-collegiate buyers. The WRC has recommended that these buyers closely monitor the factory’s compliance with its new and existing commitments and ensure that factory management complies fully with its legal obligation to respect workers’ associational rights.

The WRC will continue to monitor developments at Textiles Opico. As the licensee Team Beans disclosed the factory in error and does not have a current relationship with the factory, the WRC has no further recommendations for Team Beans regarding the outstanding labor rights issues at Textiles Opico.

Scott Nova
Executive Director
Worker Rights Consortium

[email protected]