Whirlpool plans to close a U.S. refrigerator plant in June to ship more American jobs to Mexico. Doug Cunningham has more.
By Doug Cunningham
In the United States May Day rallies were fueled by joint protests against Arizona’s new immigration law. Cities around the country saw thousands fill the streets calling for the border state to roll back the new legislation. Los Angeles saw by far the largest rally with an estimated 60,000 marching in downtown and rallying in front of City Hall. Protesters said the law is “racist” and anti-American and the City of Los Angeles is considering a boycott of the state of Arizona in response. Only two arrests were reported at the LA march.
Although it isn’t officially recognized in the United States, May 1 is Labor Day for most of the rest of the working world. Cities around the globe saw protests and rallies calling for governments to listen to the voices of working people. Depending on the country calls ranged from better jobs, more jobs, increased wages, and better working conditions. Hong Kong called for the creation of a minimum wage. The Japanese sought better job security. Indonesians called for safer working conditions and better lay off protections.
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Mother’s Day, May 9, is one of the biggest days in the year for flower sales. Yet thousands of women who pick most of the flowers, many of them mothers themselves, will spend that day working in egregious conditions for poverty wages and in hazardous conditions.
You can help these women fight for a better life by purchasing a special Mother’s Day card from the U.S. Labor Education in the Americas Project (USLEAP), an advocacy group promoting labor rights in Latin America. In exchange for a $35 donation ($20 for students or persons with low income) to USLEAP’s Flower Worker Economic Justice Campaign, your mother will receive a card in the mail featuring a photo of a Colombian flower worker with her child. The card will include a personalized message from you inside.
You can place your Mother’s Day card order here. The deadline is May 4 to guarantee delivery to your mother before next Sunday.
More than 60 percent of the flowers sold in the United States comes from Colombia. Two-thirds of the nearly 100,000 flower workers in Colombia are women and one-third are mothers. According to USLEAP, the women often are required to work 12-to-15-hour days with few breaks, especially in the weeks before holidays like Mother’s Day and Valentine’s Day. As a result, many have been injured on the job and suffer health problems related to overexposure to pesticides and humiliating and degrading treatment by management. All toil for poverty-level wages.
Women applying for a job have often been illegally forced to take a mandatory pregnancy test, USLEAP says. Workers who become pregnant are often dismissed. Workers are prevented from organizing independent unions through tactics such as illegal firings, sub-contracting and blacklisting, USLEAP says.
In July 2008, Dole, which was the largest grower and exporter in Colombia, signed contracts with two flower worker unions in Colombia. It took the workers nearly four years of struggle to win these first contracts and hundreds of workers lost their jobs during the fight. Since then, Dole has sold their Colombian flower business altogether.
Sending this card will say to your mother that you care about her as well as the rights of all mothers.