Union Leaders Killed at U.S.-Owned Mine in Colombia

The International Federation of Chemical, Energy, Mine, and General Workers’ Unions is demanding that the Colombian government put an end to a wave of murders of Colombian unionists.

The ICEM condemned the execution-style assassination of union activists employed at a coal mine in northern Colombia owned by the U.S.-based multinational Drummond Co. Drummond closed most of its U.S. facilities last year and began operating mainly in Colombia.

Valmore Locarno Rodriguez and Victor Hugo Orcasita, president and vice president of the mine workers’ local at Loma mine, were pulled from a company bus on their way to work and shot by gunmen, some of whom were wearing Colombian military uniforms. The other miners on the bus were forced to witness the killings. The mine’s 1,200 workers, members of ICEM affiliate Sintracarbon, have halted all production in protest.

The recent murders are not an isolated incident, said ICEM General Secretary Fred Higgs. “Last year alone, at least 129 Colombian trade unionists were murdered.”

Contact Drummond Company, Inc. at 205/945-6500. Fax 205/945-4254. Or write 530 Beacon Pkwy West, Ste. 900, Birmingham, AL 35209. Urge them to pressure the Colombian government to keep their hands off mine union activists.

Tell Colombian President Andres Pastrana how you feel. Write: Presidente de la Republica, Señor Andres Pastrana Arango, Palacio de Nariño, Carrera 8 No 7-26, Santafe de Bogotá, Colombia. Or fax him at 011-57-3361128.

Mexican Workers Want Independent Union at Nike/Reebok Contractor

After staging a walkout in January to protest five firings, workers at the Kuk Dong International Factory at Atlixco in the Mexican state of Puebla are trying to create an independent union. The factory produces apparel for Nike, Reebok, and many U.S. colleges and universities.

On March 18 the workers elected leaders and adopted the name SITEKIM, or the Independent Union of Workers at the Kukdong Company International of Mexico. This is the first step in becoming a recognized union under Mexican law.

The meeting was attended by observers from the United Students Against Sweatshops and the Comité de Apoyo al Trabajador. Workers face continued hostility towards the idea of an independent union, primarily from the state-affiliated FROC-CROC union.

The January walkout sparked an international solidarity campaign. International pressure on Nike to intervene resulted in Nike Vice President Dusty Kidd sending a letter asking the company to reinstate the five workers with their previous seniority.

However, conditions within the plant are still hostile toward the independent union. SITEKIM is asking the international community for support.

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Contact Dusty Kidd, Global Director for Labor Practices, Nike Corp., One Bowerman Drive, Beaverton, OR 97003. Call 503/671-6453 or fax 503/532-0400. Also contact Hoon Park, General Manager, Kukdong International Mexico, Retorno de los Continentes No. 38, Col. Rancho los Soles, C.P. 74210, Atlixco, Puebla, Mexico. Phone 011-52-2-446-1020-3 or fax 011-52-2-446-1024.

Also contact the government of Puebla and ask that the process to grant legal recognition be expedited fairly: Government of the State of Puebla, C. Melquiades Morales Flores, Governor. Fill out the form at
www.sicomnet.edu.mx/cgi-bin/rg/paginas/puegob/ejecutivo/cgis/correogobfrm.pl

Boycott Taco Bell

The Coalition of Immokalee Workers in Florida is urging consumers to boycott Taco Bell. Farmworkers who pick tomatoes for the Immokalee-based Six Ls Packing Co., one of the nation’s largest tomato producers and a contractor for Taco Bell, are paid 40 cents for every 32-pound bucket they pick. This is the same bucket rate paid in 1978. Workers must pick and haul two tons of tomatoes to make $50 in a day.

Workers picking for Six Ls receive no overtime pay for overtime work, no health insurance, no sick leave, no paid holidays, no paid vacation, and no pension.

Taco Bell has thus far refused to discuss these conditions. In 1999 Taco Bell reported earnings of more then $5 billion. Tricon Inc., the parent company of Taco Bell, Kentucky Fried Chicken, and Pizza Hut, earned over $22 billion last year.

Call or write Emil J. Brolick, President and Chief Concept Officer, Taco Bell Corp., 17901 Von Karman, Irvine, California 92614. Phone 949-863-4500. And don’t buy Taco Bell!

Fired Chentex Workers Win; Owner Threatens To Flee Nicaragua

The court of appeals in Managua, Nicaragua ruled April 4 that all nine union officers fired from the Chentex plant (a subcontractor for Kohl’s) must be returned to work with full back pay. One of the nine, Gladys Manzanares, said that their first goal will be the rehiring of about 700 other workers fired last year.

At a meeting with the union just after the court issued its order, a Chentex representative threatened to close the plant. Nicaraguan law would allow the plant to close only if its owners can prove they are in financial difficulty.

Union leaders say the court order was a victory for international solidarity campaigns in the U.S. and Taiwan, where the Nien Hsing Textile Co., owner of Chentex, is based. They ask that supporters send faxes to Ron Chu Chen, CEO of Nien Hsing, asking him to obey the court order and to keep the plant open. Fax: 886-37-728361.