In the Americas, the Solidarity Center works with trade union partners throughout the region to build strong unions that can help workers fight corruption, promote the rule of law, and create democratic and just governance, ensuring that economic opportunity extends to all members of society.
|Honduran banana workers. Photo: STITCH
A legacy of political instability, armed conflicts, and flagrant human rights violations has impoverished workers in many Latin American and Caribbean countries. While the rich get richer, the poor fall deeper and deeper into debt. Large segments of the population lack the jobs, healthcare, education, and safety needed to improve their lives. A series of natural disasters, coupled with the global economic downturn, has exacerbated the crisis. In some countries, large portions of the population have begun to question their governments’ ability to deliver essential services and respond to basic human needs.
Meanwhile, the murders of hundreds of union leaders remain unsolved as companies all over the region continue their illegal union-busting activities.
Dominican Unions Rally to Oppose Proposed Labor Code
. March 7, 2014—Chanting, “No to Labor Code rollbacks, no to human rights rollbacks,” 100 workers today marched on the Business Tower in Santo Domingo, the Dominican Republic capital, to oppose corporate-backed attempts to weaken labor code protections for working women and men.
Afro-Colombian Labor Activists Power Ahead with Dynamic Agenda
. February 28, 2014—Ready to power forward with new grassroots organizing and mobilization outreach, 127 Afro-Colombian labor and community leaders met in Bogotá in recent days for the second national forum of the Afro-Colombian Labor Council (CLAF).
Mexican Mineworkers Choose to Join Los Mineros.
February 28, 2014—Mineworkers at the El Coronel gold mine in Zacatecas, Mexico, have voted to join“Los Mineros” or SNTMMSSRM in Spanish, with 425 workers voting for the union to be its bargaining representative.
Global Unions Demand Rehiring of Fired Peruvian Garment Leader
. February 14, 2014—José López Mota, former leader of a textile workers’ union local in Peru and current general secretary of the regional textile federation FERRETEX, was fired after the union achieved a collective bargaining agreement.
Public Employees Petition Peruvian Government for Rights
. February 10, 2014—Seeking to reach a collective bargaining agreement with the Peruvian government, three public-sector union confederations presented a joint petition to government officials in recent days.
Central American Trade Unionists Increasingly Targeted
. February 3, 2014—The murder last week of Victor Manuel Crespo Puerto, father of Honduran union leader Victor Crespo, is the latest in a deadly turn for trade unionists in Central America.
Protests Continue Against Dominican Republic Citizenship Ruling
. January 27, 2014—The Dominican Republic and Haiti remain in talks regarding a Dominican Republic court ruling last September that retroactively revokes the citizenship of all Dominicans born in the country to undocumented parents as far back as 1929.
2014 Ushers in More Anti-Union Violence in Guatemala
. January 17, 2014—Earlier this month, on January 5, Guatemala’s first homicide of the new year took the life of 19-year-old Marlon Dagoberto Vásquez López, an active youth leader and member of the construction workers’ union, Sindicato Nacional de Trabajadores de la Construcción y Servicios de Guatemala (SINCS-G).
Haiti: Instead of Lifting, Wages Keep Workers in Poverty
.January 7, 2014—Four years ago this weekend, a massive earthquake brought catastrophe to the lives and livelihoods of tens of thousands of Haitians.
Mexican Human Rights Lawyer: Brave Fighter for Social Justice
. January 3, 2014—Alejandra Anchieta, a Mexican human rights lawyer, bravely fights for social justice and human rights in her country--following in the footsteps of her activist father, who died under questionable circumstances on her eighth birthday.
Peru: Textile Workers Demand Factory Obey Labor Ruling.
November 6, 2013—Peruvian textile workers are standing firm in their demands that a textile company obey a recent Labor Ministry ruling requiring the company to transition workers to permanent job contracts.
Public Employees Challenge Anti-Union Civil Service Law in Peru.
July 26, 2013—Public-sector workers in Peru are challenging a new Civil Service Law that eliminates the rights of more than 500,000 public administration workers to collectively negotiate salaries and narrows the definition of the type of unions they may establish and prevents “essential service” unions from striking (without defining essential services).
Honduras: Death Threats Against Union Activist, Radio Host
. July 15, 2013—Over the last two weeks, anonymous callers have threatened the life of long-time Honduran union leader and radio talk show host José María Martínez, whose vocal support for the rights of banana and other agricultural workers has made him a target.
Report: Auto Parts Plant Violated Mexican Worker Rights
. June 20, 2013—An international auto parts production plants has violated worker rights numerous times with actions that include a retaliatory mass firing and interference with union elections, according to a new report by the Worker Rights Consortium (WRC).
Dominican Republic: Domestic Workers' Long Campaign for Rights.
June 14, 2013—Workers this week are marking the second anniversary of the historic passage of a global standard covering the rights of domestic workers.
Peruvian Unions Build Global Support for Repeal of Textile Law.
June 3, 2013—Peruvian textile unions are gaining broad international support for repeal of a law that limits garment worker rights.
Guatemala: Global Unions Urge Justice for Murdered Unionists.
May 17, 2013—Worker rights groups are urging the Guatemalan government to bring justice to the families of the more than 56 trade union leaders killed in the past three years. No one has ever been convicted in Guatemala for killing a union leader.
Colombia: Many Women Workers Face Job Discrimination.
May 13, 2013—In Colombia, “even when there’s an improvement in the overall economy, women don’t see any improvement,” says Sohely Rua Catañeda.
Mexican Mine Workers Mark Anniversary of Two Killed in Strike.
April 24, 2013—Thousands of workers, their families and supporters gathered in Lázaro Cárdenas, Mexico, in recent days to commemorate the seventh anniversary of the deaths of two steelworkers killed during a strike for union recognition and an ensuing confrontation with security forces.
Mexico: Auto Workers End Strike with Pay Victory.
April 19, 2013—More than 2,000 auto workers ended a three-day strike at a major plant in Mexico April 19 after management agreed to increase the amount of employee profit-sharing payments, as required by law.
Los Mineros Leader Details Mine Tragedy, Exile in New Book
. April 19, 2013—Napoleón Gómez Urrutia, general secretary of Mexico's National Union of Mine and Metal Workers, known as Los Mineros, spoke at a press conference April 17 to discuss his new book, Collapse of Dignity: The Story of A Mining Tragedy and the Fight Against Greed and Corruption in Mexico.
Colombia: Afro-Descendant Domestic Workers Form Union
. April 8, 2013—Afro-Colombian women recently launched the Union of Domestic Service Workers (Unión de Trabajadoras del Servicio Domestíco, UTRASD), the first-ever union in Colombia created entirely by Afro-descendent women.
Colombia: Sugar Cane Workers Fired After Forming Union
. April 1, 2013—Sugarcane workers at the La Cabaña plantation in Valle De Cauca, Colombia, are taking part in a peaceful protest to seek recognition of their rights as workers.
Peru: Six Global Apparel Brands Reject Short-term Work Contracts.
March 18, 2013—Short-term work contracts are one way employers around the world deny workers job security, seniority rights and health benefits, often while paying them low wages. So it’s noteworthy that six international apparel companies now support repeal of a law in Peru that allows employers in the garment and textile export industries to hire workers on consecutive short-term employment contracts.
Peru: Judge Orders Fired Union Leader Reinstated to His Job.
March 13, 2013—Fidel Polo Sanchez, a union leader fired for speaking publicly about the egregious conditions of farm workers in Peru, should be reinstated to his job, a judge ruled this week.
Afro-Colombians Fighting against Discrimination at Work.
March 12, 2013—Afro-Colombians are far likelier than other Colombian workers to earn less than the minimum wage and to be employed in jobs where they cannot form unions to improve their working conditions.
Working Women Empowered: Honduran Women Build Leadership.
March 6, 2013—In Honduras, a country where women laboring in fruit packing plants and textile factories endure especially difficult conditions, two union leaders are empowering women to take on important roles in their unions and their communities.
Haitian Workers Speak out for Good Jobs.
February 26, 2013—Three years after the devastating 2010 earthquake, Haitian workers are organizing to ensure that foreign investment and infrastructure-targeted aid provide not just subsistence-level jobs, but decent work and a living wage for Haitians.
Dominican Unions Say Government Fails to Support Migrant Rights.
February 15, 2013—The National Confederation of Labor Unity (CNUS) and its member unions and federations called on the Dominican Republic government to respect the human and labor rights of Haitian migrant workers in the country and to put an end to human trafficking.
Colombian Sugarcane Worker, Trade Unionist, Murdered.
February 5, 2013—Juan Carlos Pérez Muñoz, a trade union member in Colombia, was gunned down last week on his way to board a bus to the Cauca River Valley where he worked in the sugarcane fields.
Guatemala: Global Action Needed to End Murders of Union Members.
February 1, 2013—Since 2007, 64 trade unionists have been murdered in Guatemala, and hundreds more union leaders and members have been kidnapped, tortured and threatened with death—all part of an ongoing pattern of violations against worker rights, according to Britain’s Trade Union Congress (TUC).
REPORT, January 16, 2013: Solidarity Center Haiti Earthquake Relief Fund.
Following the January 12, 2010, earthquake in Haiti, the Solidarity Center established a relief fund to route donations from U.S. unions and workers to Haitian workers and their families in need.
Three Years After Haiti Earthquake, Workers Still Need Decent Jobs.
January 11, 2012—Three years after the disastrous earthquake struck Haiti, workers and their families continue to struggle as the cost-of-living keeps rising while wages—for those who have jobs—remain the same.
El Salvador Airline Servicer Fires 96 Workers for Forming a Union.
January 10, 2013—The promotional website for AERODESPACHOS in El Salvador features workers loading airplanes, transporting baggage and servicing engines. Yet while the airline ground services company wants to showcase its workforce, it is unwilling to provide safe working conditions and decent wages, its employees say.
Mass Firing of Mexican Union Leaders Leads to Hunger Strike.
January 9, 2013—Eleven workers from PKC wire harness plants in Mexico launched a hunger strike yesterday.
Human Rights Day 2012: Marking Worker Rights Worldwide.
December 10, 2012—Nearly 3,000 trade union leaders have been murdered in Colombia over the past 20 years and the killing continues, with at least 15 unionists murdered so far this year.
Nicaragua the Third Nation to Adopt Domestic Work Standard.
October 18, 2012—Nicaragua this week became the third country to ratify the International Labor Organization (ILO) convention on domestic workers.
Peruvian Union Leader Fired after Speaking out against Poor Working Conditions.
July 20, 2012—An agro-industrial company in Peru has fired a union leader in an attempt to silence one of the strongest voices against unfair and precarious working conditions, says the Peruvian labor federation CGTP.
Peru: Support Women Workers, Grow Economy.
October 16, 2012--Women--and the work they do—are central to productivity and economic growth, to breaking the cycle of poverty and to ensuing more inclusive and just societies. Yet too often they face unnecessary barriers and terrible choices when it comes to work.
Huge Court Win for Fired Mexican Electricity Workers.
October 16, 2012—Electricity workers in Mexico won a big victory when a court last week upheld an earlier ruling finding the termination of their collective bargaining contract was invalid.
INTERVIEW: Guatemalan Aluminum Workers Describe Abuse.
October 11, 2012—When Emeterio Nach suffered a shoulder injury at his job, he asked his supervisor at the Ternium aluminum processing plant in Villa Nueva, Guatemala, for time off to see his doctor. After the supervisor denied his request, Nach asked again.
New Afro-Colombian Labor Council Advances Struggle for Racial Equality
. July 16, 2012—The first national organization dedicated to the working conditions of Afro-descendants in Colombia was formed on July 14 in Cali.
Solidarity Center Expands Fight for Worker Justice in Colombia.
July 12, 2012—The Solidarity Center has expanded its program work in Colombia, with the goal of consolidating and implementing labor reforms and formalizing labor relations for hundreds of thousands of precarious, subcontracted workers who currently toil without many of the protections of the labor law or the right to join a union.
New Laws Would Grant Social Protections to 300,000 Dominican Domestic Workers.
July 9, 2012—Two groundbreaking pieces of legislation are poised to bring 300,000 domestic workers in the Dominican Republic into the national social security system, providing them for the first time with a minimum wage, health care, pension, and other social protections to which formally employed Dominican workers are entitled.
Mexico: Union Election Results Marred by Irregularities.
July 9, 2012—Attorneys are challenging the results of a July 5 union election at a Canadian-owned silver mine in Durango, Mexico, that a team of international observers says was marred by “serious irregularities.”
Workers from around the World File Complaint with the ILO Urging Guatemala to Respect the Right of Freedom of Association.
June 18, 2012—Guatemala is among the worst violators of worker rights in the world today, according to the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC).
"12 by 12" Campaign: Uruguay First Country to Ratify C189.
April 26, 2012—Trade union activists, as well as domestic workers, are thrilled to see a breakthrough in the "12 by 12" campaign: Uruguay made history by being the first country to ratify International Labor Organization (ILO) Convention No. 189 (C189), Decent Work for Domestic Workers.
Unions Call on Honduran Government to Uphold Its Labor Laws, Support Human Rights.
April 10, 2012—As ongoing violations of international labor standards and human rights become further entrenched in Honduras, unions representing increasingly vulnerable workers in three export-related sectors—manufacturing, agriculture, and port operations—are fighting for their rights and livelihoods.
Journalists under Constant Threat in Honduras.
January 27, 2012—Gilda Silvestrucci, a member of the Journalists for Life and Freedom of Expression group, received death threats by telephone on January 24. The International Trade Union Confederation firmly condemns the constant threats against journalists who dare to exercise their profession.
El Salvador: Union Members on Strike in Solidarity with Fired Airport Workers.
November 28, 2011—Union workers at El Salvador International Airport have been on strike since November 4 in solidarity with 17 fired ramp and baggage handlers who work for private airport contractor AERODESPACHOS.
Union Rights under Attack in El Salvador.
October 11, 2011—In El Salvador, workers at the AVX electronics manufacturing plant and at CTE-América Móvil, owned by Mexican billionaire Carlos Slim, are facing harassment and illegal firings for the simple act of having dared to join a union.
Civil Construction Workers Mobilize Across Peru in Defense of Their Right to Collective Bargaining.
April 14, 2011—Tens of thousands of members of Peru’s Civil Construction Workers Union—la Federación de Trabajadores en Construcción Civil del Perú—rallied across the country on April 6 in defense of their right to sector-wide bargaining and to formally present their initial list of bargaining demands for 2011–2012.
Letter from National Confederation of State Employees of Peru (CTE) to AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka, March 16, 2011
Statement of support from Sindicato Nacional de Unidad de Trabajadores de SUNAT (Peruvian Public Employees Union/Tax Sector) to Wisconsin state public employees, March 15, 2011.
International Solidarity Key to Russell Athletic Victory.
July 30, 2010—The New York Times
called it the “biggest victory by far” for United Students Against Sweatshops (USAS) and its collegiate anti-sweatshop campaign.
Support Striking Mineworkers and Their Families in Cananea, Mexico.
March 9, 2010—More than 1,000 members of Mexico's National Union of Mine, Metal and Steelworkers have been on strike at the Cananea copper mine in Northern Mexico since July 30, 2007, protesting health and safety and other contract violations.
Executive Council Supports Aid to Chile, Haiti and Backs Mexican Workers.
The AFL-CIO Executive Council called on the world community to provide quick, no strings attached aid to Chile after the massive earthquake February 27.
Honduran Garment Workers Sign Landmark Agreement.
November 18, 2009—Solidarity Center partners SITRAJERZEESH and the Honduran General Confederation of Workers signed a landmark agreement with Russell Athletic/Fruit of the Loom, Inc., the largest private employer in Honduras.
In Honduras, a Cry for Democracy.
September 28, 2009—The Solidarity Center’s Gladys Cisneros and Stephen Wishart were caught in Honduras when ousted President Manuel Zelaya returned, raising and dashing the hopes of the Honduran people for a restoration to democracy and constitutional order.
Colombian Worker Rights Activist Nominated for Meany-Kirkland Award.
September 2, 2009—Yessika Hoyos will receive the 2008 George Meany-Lane Kirkland Human Rights award at the AFL-CIO convention in Pittsburgh on September 17.
AFL-CIO, in Solidarity with Honduran Unions, Condemns Military Coup.
July 1, 2009—"The AFL-CIO denounces this unconscionable attack on the fundamental rights and liberties of the Honduran people," says AFL-CIO President John Sweeney.
U.S. Union Leaders Meet Champions of the Colombian Labor Movement.
June 30, 2008—On a Solidarity Center sponsored exchange visit, Florida State AFL-CIO Vice President Mike Williams learned about Colombian workers’ constant struggle for social and economic justice—and why U.S workers need to hear their story.
Lack of Respect for Worker Safety Cost Colombian Miner His Life.
May 5, 2009—In a unified response to safety shortfalls that killed an inexperienced and untrained contract worker at Colombia’s second largest coal mine, 9,000 union miners and contract workers staged a four-day strike late in March that shut down production.
Survey Finds Human Trafficking, Debt Bondage Common in Dominican Republic. March 4, 2009—Haitian migrants who cross the border into the Dominican Republic for jobs in the construction industry are among the country’s most exploited workers, and many feel that union membership is the key path to decent work, according to a new survey developed by workers for workers with Solidarity Center support.
Solidarity Center Joins Global Call to End Impunity Now in Guatemala. February 8, 2008—Guatemala, one of the most dangerous countries in the world for trade unionists, was the site of an international conference on unions’ role in the fight against impunity.
Making Colombian Mines Safe. April 28, 2007—On February 6, a coalmine explosion in Colombia killed four miners, including a 13-year-old child.
Farmworker Organizer Murdered: Take Action! Demand Justice! April 17, 2007—On Monday morning, April 9, 2007, 29-year-old migrant farmworker organizer Santiago Rafael Cruz was found beaten to death at the office of the Farm Labor Organizing Committee (FLOC, AFL-CIO) in Monterrey, Nuevo Leon, Mexico.
Workers Establish a Network to Prevent Trafficking for Labor Exploitation. March 7, 2007—At 22, Rosa was ready for a change. The textile factory that employed her in her hometown of Santiago, Dominican Republic, had closed in December, and there was no guarantee that it would reopen.
Guatemalan Dockworkers Reinstated as Global Unions Push for Probe into Leader's Murder. February 12, 2007. Unions around the world are putting pressure on the Guatemalan government to investigate the brutal murder of Pedro Zamora, General Secretary of the Dockworkers Union, STEPQ of Guatemala.
New Solidarity Center Report Exposes Targeted Attacks on Colombian Trade Unionists. July 18, 2006—Over the past 20 years, more than 4,000 Colombian trade unionists have been killed for their activism, according to a new Solidarity Center report, Justice for All: The Struggle for Worker Rights in Colombia.
Unions Worldwide Condemn Ouster of Mexican Mineworkers Leader. April 3, 2006. Labor unions around the world are condemning the Mexican government's removal of Napoleon Gómez Urrutia, general secretary of the National Union of Mine and Metal Workers, as a politically motivated action that has led to violence and death.
Haiti FTZ Workers Win Groundbreaking Contract. December 16, 2005—After months of negotiations, more than 800 workers in the SOCOWA union at the Ouanaminthe Free Trade Zone in Haiti ratified a groundbreaking contract with Dominican-owned clothing manufacturer Grupo M.
Honduran Banana Workers Fight for Their Union. June 6, 2005—In Honduras, the Solidarity Center joined banana workers in their fight to maintain union representation.
Solidarity Center Publications
- ITUC 2012 Annual Survey of Violations of Trade Union Rights in the Americas (English / Español).