Thursday, December 27, 2012

Haiti-Dominican Republic Trade: Exports or Exploits?

By Ayiti Kale Je/Haiti Grassroots Watch
December 21, 2012

Port-au-Prince, HAITI, 21 December 2012 – “I get everything at the Haiti-Dominican Republic: carrots, squash, eggplant, cabbage, peppers, eggs, salami… everything. The border is what feeds us,” explained a merchant as she stood by her groaning stand.

The food seller – who refused to give her name because because she feared reprisals from Haitian tax collectors – sells vegetables and other food products at the Croix des Bossales marketplace, the biggest open market in the capital. Every day, hundreds of buyers and sellers clog the noisy, grimy patch of land near the country’s main port.[...]

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Wednesday, December 26, 2012

World Bank "success" undermines Haitian democracy

By Ayiti Kale Je/Haiti Grassroots Watch
December 20, 2012

Port-au-Prince, Haiti, Dec. 20 2012 – A $61 million dollar, eight-year World Bank community development project implemented across half of Haiti has successfully repaired roads, built schools and distributed livestock.

But it also helped undermine an already weak state, damaged Haiti’s “social tissue,” carried out what could be called “social and political reengineering,” and raised questions of waste and corruption and contributed to Haiti’s growing status as an “NGO Republic” by creating new non-governmental organizations (NGOs).[...]

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Tuesday, December 25, 2012

"Occupy the Port" Protests Walmart's Sweatshops in Bangladesh

"Block the Boat"  Photo: Marty Goodman/Socialist Action

By Marty Goodman, Socialist Action
December 18, 2012

Related story: Longshoremen shut down S.C. shipping terminal in protest over deadly fire at Bangladesh Walmart supplier

These are some photos of the protest Dec. 18 against Walmart at the Port of Newark, New Jersey. A ship transporting Walmart T-shirts from Bangladesh was to dock there that day. Some 60 protesters gathered at about 8 AM at the Port to draw attention to Walmart’s procurement of T-shirts from sweatshops that violate basic safety codes in Bangladesh and elsewhere.

Remembering the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire
Photo: Marty Goodman/Socialist Action

The horrific fire at the Tazreen apparel factory in Bangladesh, which killed 112 workers in November, was making clothes for Walmart leaked documents prove, despite denials (NY Times, Greenhouse, Dec. 5, 2012). A Walmart director of ‘ethical sourcing’ said in minutes leaked to The Times that correcting glaring fire and electrical safety issues at 4500 factories was not “financially feasible for the brands to make such investments.”

Spelling it out: Walmart kills
Photo: Marty Goodman/Socialist Action
The ship destined for the Port of Newark Tuesday carried clothes from a sweatshop not far from the deadly fire in Bangladesh. There were hopes that workers would not unload the ship. Unfortunately, that didn’t happen. There are no details.

Truckers honked in support when they saw the signs
Photo: Marty Goodman/Socialist Action

Thisanjali Gangoda read a solidarity message from Bangladeshi workers in NYC Photo: Marty Goodman/Socialist Action
Sweatshops in Haiti also make clothes for Walmart. The wage is now about $4.80 A DAY, less than the new mandated minimum wage of about $7.00. Haiti is under a US/UN occupation, increased in 2010 by the Obama administration in the immediate aftermath of the January 12th earthquake. There will be a forum on Haiti in NYC on Saturday, January 12:

HAITI Reconstruction 3 Years after the 2010 Earthquake
Saturday, January 12 - 6 PM
CWA Local 1180
6 Harrison Street (basement), Manhattan
(Bet. Hudson St and Greenwich St)
#1 to Franklin St or A,C, E, 2 or 3 to Chambers St

A Report-Back from a Labor Solidarity Delegation
• What happened to $Billions in aid?
• Why build only sweatshops?
• Why is Haiti still under US/UN Occupation?
• Why is the minimum wage so low in Haiti?
• How is the labor movement fighting back?
• How do those struggles relate to workers struggles here and around the world?

Speakers / Photo projection:
Marty Goodman former TWU Local 100 executive board member
David Wilson Weekly News Update on the Americas
Tony Savino Photojournalist


Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Haiti’s Garment Workers Join the Worldwide Fight Against Sweatshop Abuses

Labor organizers from Port-au-Prince to Ouanaminthe are sewing your underwear and agitating for international solidarity.

By Stephanie McMillan, Take Part
December 5, 2012

The garment industry is a global web of nightmares, where suppliers compete to offer their products at the lowest possible cost to stores like Walmart, The Gap and JCPenney. The cutthroat competition can mean starvation wages and unsafe conditions for the people working in sweatshops, the people who stitch, press and fold the T-shirts, pants and dresses that wind up on the shelves of U.S. stores.

This past October, several members of One Struggle (an anti-imperialist collective with chapters in South Florida and New York) traveled to Haiti to meet with workers who produce clothing for familiar brands, including Cherokee and Hanes. [...]

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Sunday, December 16, 2012

The Hell that is Haiti

By Marty Goodman, Socialist Action
November 15, 2012

PORT AU PRINCE, Haiti—Oct. 22 was a romantic rendezvous for Bill and Hillary Clinton in Haiti, their one-time honeymoon destination. Hollywood celebs were there too—Sean Penn, Ben Stiller and sweatshop magnate Donna Karan, along with members of the Haitian elite, led by President Michael Martelly, a Washington-backed military coup supporter. “Haiti is open for business and we mean it,” Martelly said to his beaming guests.

The occasion was the opening of a new $300 million sweatshop industrial park in Caracol in northern Haiti, $124 million of it paid for by the U.S. taxpayers.[...]

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Saturday, December 15, 2012

Hot and Crusty Workers Win With Groundbreaking Contract

By The Internationalist
November 2012

After months of struggle, immigrant workers at the Hot and Crusty bakery/restaurant on Manhattan’s Upper East Side have made big news for the workers movement. A solid union victory – including a union hiring hall and benefits virtually unheard of in the industry – has come through a fight that captured the attention of labor activists throughout the city and beyond. Dramatic ups and downs marked the campaign from the start, but the workers’ determination to “seguir hasta las últimas consecuencias” – to stick it out, come what may – was crucial to winning this battle. The inspiring outcome has the potential to spark further, wide-ranging efforts to organize low-wage immigrant workers throughout the food industry in New York City, “the restaurant capital of the world.”

On October 23 the Hot and Crusty Workers Association (HCWA) signed a contract with new owners of the 63rd Street restaurant. [...]

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