Solidarity Center
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The Solidarity Center's mission is to help build a global labor movement by strengthening the economic and political power of workers around the world through effective, independent and democratic unions.

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Bangladesh Worker Rights Defense Fund

Bangladeshi union organizers are in peril and need your help. Please donate now to support them as they reach out to garment workers in unsafe factories. Find out more.
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Where We Work

The High Cost of Low Wages in Haiti
Haiti's apparel exports have increased 45 percent since the 2010 earthquake. Yet garment workers who make goods destined for the U.S. market barely earn enough to pay for lunch and transportation to work, a new Solidarity Center survey finds.

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Migrant Workers ‘Shouldn’t Have to Be Tortured to Have Work’

September 19, 2014—Three times each month, dozens of women gather in dusty courtyards in rural towns in Manikganj, Dinazpur or other districts across Bangladesh to learn all they can about the only means by which they can support their families: migrating to another country for work.

In leading these information sessions, the Bangladesh Migrant Women’s Organization(BOMSA) seeks to assist women in understanding their rights—from what they shoulddemand of those who facilitate their migration, to the wage and working conditions at the homes in Gulf and Asian countries where they will be employed as domestic workers.

Ai-jen Poo, Domestic Workers Leader, Wins Genius Award

September 17, 2014—Ai-jen Poo, executive director of the National Domestic Workers Alliance (NDWA) and co-director of Caring Across Generations, won a 2014 MacArthur Genius Awards for her work championing the rights of domestic workers.

Under Poo’s leadership, NDWA successfully pushed for the 2010 passage of a domestic workers’ bill of rights in New York, which provides overtime pay and paid time off to domestic workers. Poo also participated in the 2011 International Labor Organization conference that set the stage for passage of the United Nation’s Domestic Workers Convention, 189.

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Liberia and Nigeria Unions Act against Ebola
September 15, 2014—Unions in Liberia and Nigeria are teaching union members, their families and local communities how to prevent transmission of the Ebola virus and speaking out on behalf of health care and other front-line workers.
In Liberia unions are providing Ebola awareness training, disinfectants and hand-washing buckets to local communities. Unions in Nigeria are getting information to the grassroots about how to prevent Ebola infection and taking the lead in pressing for protection protocols for healthcare and other front-line workers.

Bangladesh Garment Union Leaders Making Change Together

September 16, 2014—Some 600 factory-level garment union leaders and workers from 35 factories met during the recent Bangladesh Garments and Industrial Workers Federation (BGIWF) Convention in Dhaka, the Bangladesh capital.

Joining together under the convention theme, “Together we can bring change,” participants described the workplace improvements that followed after workers formed unions.

“Before forming the union, the workers were abused in different ways. For instance, if the production target was not fulfilled, management terminated them,” said Md. Khokhon Skikdar, general secretary of Lufa Garments Ltd. “But now, they (the managers) value us and hold mutual discussions.

'The Key to Development in Africa Is Empowering Women’

September 12, 2014—Up to 80 percent of workers across Africa labor in the informal economy, many as street vendors, taxi drivers and domestic workers. With few legal rights, most informal-sector workers make low wages and have no health care or other social protections.

Because women comprise the vast majority of workers in the informal economy, they are integral to improving wages and working conditions for all informal workers.Indeed, says Caroline Mugalla, executive secretary of the East Africa Trade Union Confederation (EATUC): “The key to development in Africa is empowering women.”

Bangladesh: Another Violent Attack on Garment Workers

September 9, 2014—A garment union leader and her husband were brutally attacked in late August, marking the latest incident of apparent factory-sponsored violence against workers attempting to exercise their right to freedom of association and to just, safe jobs in Bangladesh’s garment factories.

On August 26 as Mira, acting union president at Global Trousers Ltd. in Chittagong, and her husband waited for the bus to take them home after work, several men—armed with iron rods, their faces hidden by handkerchiefs—violently attacked her. She was knocked unconscious following a blow to the head, and her husband, who rushed to help her, also suffered a beating. After the attack, Mira was rushed to a local hospital in critical condition.

Bangladesh Garment Workers Win Right to Organize at Chunji Factory
September 8, 2014—Garment workers at Chunji Knit Ltd., in Dhaka, Bangladesh, can now freely organize a union, and workers fired for union activity will be reinstated, according to a memorandum of understanding signed by Chunji management and the Bangladesh Federation of Workers Solidarity (BFWS).

The August 21 agreement follows a months-long struggle by workers to be paid the legal minimum wage and freely form a union. In February several union organizers and garment workers were physically attacked and beaten. The Wall Street Journal at the time quoted a worker who said that factory managers had warned workers not to join the union.

Dairy Company in Turkey Dumps Manure to Intimidate Workers

September 8, 2014—This is a crosspost from the International Union of Food workers.

Union members at the Turkish Sütas dairy company are fighting for their rights against intimidation by management including dismissals, criminal complaints to the prosecution office, police raids on union offices and the dumping of 13 tons of liquid manure on the sit-in area across the factory gate where the dismissed workers were picketing.

To take action in support of these workers click here.

Dominican Republic Plan for Migrants Rife with Irregularities

September 5, 2014—The Dominican Republic’s “regularization” plan—created to provide legal status to migrants with documents—is rife with “irregularities,” according to Alexis Roselie, spokeswoman for the National Coordinator for Immigration Justice and Human Rights and an organizer for the National Federation of Workers in Construction and Building Materials (FENTICOMMC).

At a press conference this week at the National Confederation of Union Unity (CNUS), Roselie said that “after three months of execution of the plan … only 19 offices of the 31 previously announced offices are functioning.” Roselie referred to offices the Dominican government recently opened around the country to receive applications from migrants to legalize their status.

Mexico: Mineworkers Leader Cleared of All Criminal Charges

September 2, 2014—A panel of federal judges in Mexico dropped all criminal charges against Napoleón Gómez Urrutia, president and general secretary of the National Mine and Metal Workers Union (Los Mineros), freeing him to return to Mexico from Canada where he has lived in exile. 

Gómez Urrutia, who was been removed as president of the 250,000-member union by Mexican authorities and replaced with a company-backed rival, was repeatedly threatened and forced to leave Mexico in 2006. He also was charged with embezzling $55 million in union funds, an accusation struck down multiple times by the country’s courts. Following the August 28 decision, Gómez Urrutia said through Los Mineros that he plans to return to Mexico by the end of September.

Solidarity Center Mourns Passing of Ahmed Seif al-Islam

August 27, 2014—The Solidarity Center mourns the passing of one of Egypt's leading human and labor rights activists, Ahemd Seif al Islam. The following is an excerpt from Mada Masr.

Renowned human rights lawyer Ahmed Seif al-Islam died on Wednesday after slipping into a coma following open-heart surgery earlier this month, his family announced in a statement.

Seif was involved in political activism since his student days, but studied law and became a human rights defender following his detention in 1983, during which time he was reportedly tortured.

Read the full article.

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