WRC Factory Investigation

F&D, S.A. de C.V.

Factory: F&D, S.A. de C.V.

Key Buyers: Hanesbrands

Year: 2014

Case Summary

The WRC has been engaged with the management of F&D, S.A. de C.V. (“F&D”) and the factory’s sole buyer, Hanesbrands, regarding workers’ rights violations at this plant since 2010. A WRC report dated March 24, 2014, provides a full history of the WRC’s intervention at the plant, including significant improvements since the WRC conducted an onsite investigation in April 2013 pursuant to the WRC’s role as the independent monitor for the City of Los Angeles of compliance with the City’s Anti-Sweatshop Ordinance for apparel and other goods procured by the City. In 2009-2010, the WRC was contacted by F&D workers who had recently formed a union affiliated to the SITS, a multi-factory union. The WRC documented serious violations of workers’ freedom of association at the facility. These included coercion, threats, harassment, and bribery of workers to induce them to resign from the SITS union, the formation of a company-sponsored union, and other acts of discrimination against the SITS union and those employees who were its members.

In June 2010, the WRC contacted Hanesbrands to recommend measures it should require F&D to take to remedy these violations. As a result of Hanesbrands’ involvement, F&D addressed several workplace problems that did not concern freedom of association (such as scheduling of vacation periods and calculation of vacation bonuses). The violations of freedom of association, however, went largely uncorrected. The WRC remained in periodic contact with HanesBrands regarding F&D, including informing HanesBrands of several incidents in late 2012 when workers active in the SITS union reported threats in person and over the phone, including death threats. In one incident, workers who were SITS union members found scraps of cloth at their work stations with threats and insults scrawled on them. These workers also reported that the personal belongings they kept at their work stations had been taken. While the factory conducted an investigation, the perpetrators were never identified. In investigation including both a physical inspection of the plant and offsite worker interviews conducted in April 2013, the WRC identified workers’ rights violations in the following areas: (1) health and safety, (2) discrimination, (3) wages and hours of work, (4) verbal abuse of employees, and (5) freedom of association. The WRC communicated these violations on June 28, 2013, to F&D’s management, Hanesbrands, SanMar, and the City of Los Angeles.

Upon receipt of these findings and recommendations, Hanesbrands engaged intensively with both F&D management and with the WRC. The WRC, HanesBrands, F&D management, and union leaders met together in El Salvador on July 25, 2013, and agreed in principle to a program of remediation and to the creation of an ombudsperson position at the plant. Significant improvement has been achieved since this July 2013 meeting. After nearly four years of significant violations of workers’ freedom of association and efforts by management to prevent workers from exercising their right to form a union, factory management is now meeting regularly with the union in meetings facilitated by an ombudswoman selected jointly by F&D management, the union, the WRC, and Hanesbrands. In addition, after extensive engagement by Hanesbrands, factory management has addressed a range of violations related to safety on the job, discrimination, and correct payment of wages. Despite these gains, not all violations have been fully addressed; the WRC made additional recommendations in a report dated March 24, 2014. Continued engagement by Hanesbrands and the WRC will be necessary in order to solidify the gains achieved so far and ensure continued compliance.

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