New campaign to help human rights starts with U.
Similar to America, Honduras is a country consisting of hard working people that need jobs to support themselves and their families. Unfortunately, while there are labor laws and regulations in Honduras, they are not as widely enforced when a company violates the legislation. Over the course of the last 10 years there have been two major textile factories suddenly closed down without informing its workers in advance. Not only were these workers not given any notice of the closure, they had been on vacation for Christmas for the immediate decision. Despite labor laws, these workers were not given any severance pay or compensation for sick days that had not been used as legislation entitles them to. The University of Washington has begun a campaign to make adjustments to these events. The University is indirectly involved in these shutdowns in that the majority of the production in these factories is done for Nike, which is also a significant amount of apparel made for the University of Washington. Hugger de Honduras, a plant that produced Nike products as a majority, abruptly shut down on Jan. 19, 2009. Of the 1,200 hard-working people that were employed at the factory, none of them received any terminal compensation that the Honduran laws state. To understand the complete economic toll these workers have taken, the Honduran Ministry of Labor has calculated that the compensation owed exceeds $1,000,000.Vision Tex, another primary contractor of Nike products, also unexpectedly closed down recently without notifying its workers. The difference between the two factories is that the workers of Vision Tex were engaging in a campaign to have their labor union recognized by the company. Before the official shut down of the factory, the company fired the union's secretary general, president, vice president and treasurer. This firing spree followed with a complete shutdown of the company, and comparably to Hugger de Honduras, no compensatory pay was given to any of the workers. The money that the workers are entitled to totals about $560,000. While Vision Tex was not disclosed as a factory that produced apparel for the University of Washington, Hugger de Honduras had produced a significant amount of apparel for the school. As the workers from the two factories are relying on the liquidation of the plants' remaining machinery and assets for their compensatory pay, workers rights activists at the University are pushing for full compensation for the workers. Rutgers also has a large contract with Nike for much of our apparel as well. In a drive to get fairness for these employees, we at Rutgers University should help in the campaign to push Nike to pay the severance that the workers never received. They have worked hard to produce for Nike and deserve this compensation that they are legally obligated to receive. To begin this push, the Rutgers Labor Association will be having a general meeting to discuss further strategies in order to give justice and fairness to the workers in Honduras and to start this new campaign. There will be a general meeting for the campaign on Tuesday, Sept. 29 at 9 p.m. in Scott Hall. All interested are invited to attend. Laura Barrett is a School of Arts and Sciences junior majoring in labor studies and employment relations. She is also the Rutgers Labor Association treasurer.