WRC Update: Jerzees de Honduras

To:Primary Contacts, WRC Affiliate Colleges and Universities
From:Scott Nova
Date:January 28, 2009
Re:WRC Update: Jerzees de Honduras

I wanted to update you briefly on developments concerning Jerzees de Honduras. As you know, the WRC asked Russell to delay the pending closure of the facility until universities have received the Fair Labor Association’s report on the case and until universities have had adequate opportunity to consider this report along with the findings issued last year by the WRC. We also urged delay because of threats of violence against union leaders. Our goal was to ensure that security protections are in place for these individuals prior to the shuttering of the factory, since some of the threats made were clearly linked to the date of closure.

Russell, in a communication to universities issued last week, stated that it will not suspend the closure. Yesterday, Russell announced in Honduras that they will close the factory this week. We are obviously disappointed at Russell’s decision not to suspend the closure; we believe the request for a suspension was an eminently reasonable one. Their decision to proceed undermines both the code enforcement process and efforts to minimize the risk of violence against workers.

At this point, we await a response from the Honduran government and from the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights concerning the request for security protection for union leaders who are under threat. We are also waiting to review the FLA’s report. We wish to emphasize that we stand behind the conclusions of the WRC’s original report, released in November, that animus against workers’ exercise of freedom of association was a significant factor in the closure decision, and that this, along with the repeated threats of retaliatory closure made by Russell management to workers, constitutes severe violation of university codes of conduct.

We will have another update for you soon.

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