On November 14, 2009 an unprecedented agreement was struck between Russell Athletic and the union representing 1,200 unjustly laid off workers at its former Jerzees de Honduras (JDH) factory. The company has agreed to open a new facility in the Choloma area, re-hire and provide substantial economic assistance to the former JDH workers, institute a joint union-management training program on freedom of association and commit to a position of neutrality with respect to unionization, which will open the door for union representation at all of Fruit of the Loom’s Honduran facilities (Russell Athletic is owned by Fruit of the Loom).
“This agreement represents one of the most significant advances for fundamental workplace rights in the twenty-year history of apparel industry codes of conduct,” said Scott Nova of the Worker Rights Consortium (WRC), which conducted independent investigations into violations of freedom of association at JDH. “It is hard to overstate the significance of this breakthrough.”
The agreement is the result of a massive effort by students, unions and labour rights organizations in Honduras, the US, Europe and Canada, including MSN. United Students Against Sweatshops (USAS) in the US and MSN in Canada convinced over 100 universities that have adopted ethical purchasing policies to tell Russell Athletic they would withdraw licensing agreements with the company (worth millions of dollars annually) unless it took action to remediate the violations.
The violation were discovered by several investagations conducted by the WRC and the Fair Lbor Association (FLA)
• Read the Joint Public Statement on the agreement by the union and the company (November 17, 2009)
• Read the WRC report and memos on the Jerzees closure.
• Read Russell Athletic’s statements on the case.
• Read MSN's letter to Canadian Universities regarding Russell's Jerzees closure.
In a special meeting convened December 1, 2009, the Fair Labor Association (FLA) Board of Directors formally lifted the "Special Review" of Russell Athletic's membership in the FLA after the company's agreement reached on November 14 with the workers' union (SITRAJERZEESH) and the confederation to which it is affiliated (CGT) was found to address the key issues that were pending from the FLA remediation plan previously issued to Russell.
An unprecedented agreement has been struck between Russell Athletic and the union representing 1,200 unjustly laid off workers at its former Jerzees de Honduras (JDH) factory. The company has agreed to open a new facility in the area, re-hire and provide substantial economic assistance to the former JDH workers, institute a joint union-management training program on freedom of association and commit to a position of neutrality with respect to unionization, which will open the door for union representation at all Fruit of the Loom facilities in Hondura.
Students protest Russell Athletic
Citing Russell Athletic's "failure to engage in good faith negotiations with the CGT union on issues like compensation for terminated employees, a meaningful first-hire policy and reasonable access for unions to company factories", the Fair Labor Association (FLA) has put its member company Russell Athletic on Special Review for 90 days. If Russell fails to complete a series of required steps in 90 days their FLA membership may be revoked.
The Ethical Trading Action Group is asking for your assistance to convince sportswear supplier Russell Athletic to get serious about remediating well-documented violations of workers’ rights at its recently closed Jerzees de Honduras (JDH) factory in Choloma, Honduras.
Please write to retailers in your city asking them to review the labour rights abuses reported at the JDH factory when considering whether to continue stocking Russell Athletic products on their store shelves.
Feb 14, 2009 - "Schools Score Points by Standing Up for Workers," By David Bonior, Huffington Post
Sportswear supplier Russell Athletic is facing growing pressure from students and other anti-sweatshop activists and US and Canadian universities to get serious about remediating well-documented violations of workers’ rights at its recently closed Jerzees de Honduras factory in Choloma, Honduras.
In January, nine labour rights organizations, including MSN, filed a formal request with the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) calling for urgent precautionary measures to protect the life of Honduran trade union leader Evangelina Argueta.
“Recent developments indicate a substantial probability that a plot to assassinate Ms. Argueta and/or her colleagues, or otherwise commit violence against them, is already in the works,” says the IACHR submission ...
The Worker Rights Consortium (WRC) has released findings from its investigation into allegations of freedom of association violations surrounding Russell Athletics’ planned closure of its Jerzees de Honduras plant. Among the findings were "that anti-union animus was a significant factor in the company’s decision to close the plant," and that threats, harassment, and interference with collective representation were used at the plant to prevent workers from exercising their right to freedom of association.