In the Dominican Republic, the Solidarity Center partners with unions to promote worker and migrant rights in the construction, free trade zone, tourism, food, and industrial sectors and to educate workers about national, regional, and international labor laws.
|Haitian migrants who cross the border into the Dominican Republic for jobs in the construction industry are among the country’s most exploited workers.
Dominican unions represent about 650,000 workers in a total workforce of 4 million. The unification of the four main Dominican labor federations into the National Council of United Trade Unions (CNUS) has strengthened Dominican workers’ voices in public policy debates. CNUS and its affiliates are the Solidarity Center’s primary partners in the Dominican Republic. To meet the challenges of the global economy, such as new trade rules, the influx of multinational corporations, and non-traditional types of employment, Dominican unions have turned toward defending the rights of underrepresented groups such as women, youth, Haitian migrants, and informal workers.
The Dominican and U.S. economies are linked through exports, tourism, and migration. The Central America-Dominican Republic-U.S. Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA-DR), which went into effect in the Dominican Republic in March 2007, created free trade zones with reduced taxes and other financial incentives for foreign investors in six countries. Today, Dominican textile and apparel exports account for more than 10 percent of the national GDP. The factories where these goods are produced provide hundreds of thousands of jobs and millions of dollars in earnings for Dominican workers, but also opportunities for exploitation by employers. CAFTA-DR calls for participating countries to enforce their own labor laws and to "strive to ensure" that the International Labor Organization’s core labor standards are recognized and protected by domestic labor law—a primary focus of Solidarity Center education programs throughout Central America and the Dominican Republic.
Each year, thousands of Haitian migrant workers come to next-door neighbor Dominican Republic, driven by poverty and political turmoil. They take dangerous, low-paying jobs in agriculture, construction, and domestic service. Workplace discrimination is common. With no contracts or proper documents, hundreds of thousands of men and women are forced into bonded labor. They may even be victims of human trafficking. The Solidarity Center and its partners are using innovative methods to survey migrant workers about abuses on the job as a way to address pervasive worker rights violations.
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.
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.
Fighting Fraud, Construction Workers Mobilize for Compliance with Pension Law.
April 16, 2011—On Wednesday April 11, approximately 1,500 construction workers and supporters marched from Santo Domingo’s Independence Park to the Government Offices building, in protest over the disappearance of $1.27 billion Dominican pesos (roughly $32.564 million).
Is the Perfect Factory Possible?
Aracelis “Kuky” Upia, a 39-year-old factory worker in the Dominican Republic, is participating in an experiment that, if successful, could help end sweatshops as a staple of the global economy.
"Domestic Workers Deserve to Be Treated Like Other Workers."
With four children and few options for supporting her family, Tamara did what a lot of poor Haitian women do: She sought work and a better life across the border in the Dominican Republic.
Alta Gracia Could Be Model for Apparel Industry
. Alta Gracia, the first apparel factory in the developing world to pay a living wage, is a big step toward setting a new standard for apparel manufacturing around the world. But consumers must be energized to buy the new brand in large numbers before other manufacturers will follow suit, several experts say. Watch a video
taken the day Alta Gracia workers received their first paychecks.
Survey Finds Human Trafficking, Debt Bondage Common in Dominican Republic. 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.
Dominican Unions Combat Labor Exploitation and Human Trafficking. Training, survey research, and media outreach helped increase community awareness of human trafficking of Haitian workers in the Dominican Republic.
Dominican Garment Workers Sign First Contract. Nearly 1,000 workers at the TOS Dominicana garment factory in the Dominican Republic ratified their first union contract on August 12, 2008, after more than a yearlong struggle.
When a Dominican Factory Closes Its Doors, We Lose More Than Decent Jobs. Jenny, a single working mother, had lost her job at the BJ&B factory. In 2003, BJ&B was a leading supplier of logo caps to U.S. universities and athletic teams. Jenny was one of 1,600 workers, almost all women, until she was fired for standing up for her right to form a union.