Right to Organize and Bargain

Photograph of workers protestingA worker’s right to organize and bargain collectively is protected in international covenants, from the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights to ILO conventions, and is protected by national laws in most countries. Yet workers around the world still routinely face threats, dismissal from their jobs, and even outright violence when they seek to join or form a union.

The presence of an independent union in a workplace can help enable workers to identify and raise concerns regarding health and safety hazards, wage-and-hour violations, or provision of health and retirement benefits. When employers are allowed retaliate against workers who speak out, this deters workers from pressing their employers to correct other violations, or from speaking openly to labor rights monitors such as the WRC about conditions in their workplaces.

Together with our allies, the WRC has helped more than 1,500 workers win reinstatement after they were illegally fired and, in some cases, violently attacked for exercising right to organize and bargain collectively.

Related Factory Investigations

JoeAnne Company International Factory (JoeAnne Dominicana)

In 2013, the WRC conducted an investigation of JoeAnne Dominicana in response to a complaint alleging that employees had been dismissed in retaliation for exercising their associational rights. The WRC’s investigation found compelling evidence that at least five workers were terminated in retaliation for participating in a meeting with representatives of a union federation. The WRC also found evidence that at least one worker was dismissed for perceived union activities after being seen conversing regularly with identified union leaders and another worker was fired after stating that she believed workers had been fired for attempting to form a union. These actions violate both university codes of conduct and Dominican law.


Alamode, S.A.

The WRC found continued non-compliance with the City of San Francisco’s Ordinance in the areas of payment of legally-mandated health care benefits, payment of wages, hours of work, legally-mandated terminal benefits, gender discrimination, harassment and abuse, occupational health and safety and freedom of association.


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

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.


Arneses y Accesorios de Mexico (PKC Group)

The WRC’s inquiry found, on the basis of overwhelming evidence, that, since August 2011, PKC management at Arneses y Accesorios has carried out a series of actions that have violated international labor standards by denying workers the opportunity to exercise their right to freely join a union in order to bargain collectively with their employer.


Palermo Villa, Inc.

The WRC launched this inquiry in response to a complaint by a group of Palermo workers alleging that, in early June 2012, the company carried out a mass dismissal of employees, as well as other labor rights violations, in retaliation for the workers’ effort to organize a union at the company’s primary manufacturing facility in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.


E Garment

The WRC found serious and ongoing violations by E Garment’s management of its workers’ associational rights, that the factory, VF and E Garment’s other buyers — despite extensive attempts at engagement by the WRC — have repeatedly failed to remedy.


Industrias Sinteticas (INSINCA)

The WRC’s assessment at INSINCA found violations in the areas of wages and hours, statutory paid leave, freedom of association and occupational health and safety.



On February 21, 2013, workers wrote to SAE-A, buyers and the WRC alleging a series of violations, including the termination of 16 workers (nine at EINS and seven at Tecnotex) in retaliation for workers’ lawful exercise of their associational rights.


Star, S.A.

The National Labor Committee originally brought the Star factory in Honduras to the attention of the WRC in late 2007. A subsequent investigation by the WRC confirmed that 55 workers had been unlawfully terminated shortly after they had formed a union.


Flying Needle

Shortly after workers of the Flying Needle factory formed a union in May 2012, all twelve union leaders were illegally fired.