WRC Factory Investigation

Flying Needle

Factory: Flying Needle

Key Buyers: adidas, Rawlings

Last Updated: 2012

Case Summary

Shortly after workers of the Flying Needle factory formed a union in May 2012, all twelve union leaders were illegally fired. According to worker interviews, the management had informed them that the factory “no longer need[ed] their services.” The Nicaraguan Ministry of Labor declared these firings to be illegal and demanded reinstatement of the workers, which was disregarded by the factory management. After the union elected new leadership in October 2012, several more union members were terminated. Management has repeatedly demonstrated verbal hostility to workers who showed intentions to organize.

Only after the union issued a letter that made the case public in November 2012 did adidas and Under Armour press factory management for reinstatement of the workers. Eight of the illegally workers have since been reinstated, but this does not represent full remediation of the violations. It was not only the illegal actions of Flying Needle, but the inaction of the licensees, that allowed the firings to stand for five months, despite an official governmental reinstatement order. Adidas’ monitoring program has been notoriously unsuccessful at preventing illegal firings in the Tipitapa free trade zone. The brands are currently being contacted to inquire of their plans to ensure that the violations are fully remediated.

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