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Date: Sat, 31 Oct 98 00:40:43 CST
From: Campaign for Labor Rights <clr@igc.apc.org>
Subject: Disney/Haiti: threats, layoffs, break-off of talks
Article: 46569
To: undisclosed-recipients:;
Message-ID: <bulk.7379.19981101121550@chumbly.math.missouri.edu>

Disney/Haiti workers threatened

Labor Alerts, 26 October 1998

Please copy, sign and send this letter to Michael Eisner, CEO of Disney, and send a cc to Megatex owner Michel Liautaud. Please email or fax the signature portion of your letter to Campaign for Labor Rights so that we can forward your name and address to Batay Ouvriye, whose members want to know the response to this alert.

To send an email to Michael Eisner, go to www.disney.com/Mail/index.html and click the arrow on the right side of the box labeled Choose an area and use the scroll bar to reach the end of the choices. Click the final item Other and then click Go to the right of the box. This will bring you to the next page. In the From box, enter your own email address and then copy and paste the letter, including your name and address, into the Message box. Click the Send button below that box.

Michael Eisner, CEO
Walt Disney Company
500 South Buena Vista Street
Burbank, CA 91521

Dear Mr. Eisner:

I wish to bring an urgent matter to your attention. It concerns the Megatex factory in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, which produces clothing for the Disney company. Please intervene in this situation immediately. LIVES ARE AT STAKE, AS IS THE REPUTATION OF YOUR COMPANY.

The worker organization Batay Ouvriye reported on October 21 that in recent days a factory SUPERVISOR THREATENED TWO UNION MEMBERS AT MEGATEX WITH FIRING AND VIOLENCE. One of the workers is the general coordinator of the union. The workers interpreted the supervisor's statement as a death threat, which in Haiti is not taken lightly.

The owner of Megatex, Mr. Michel Liautaud, has written a letter notifying the union representing Megatex workers that he is BREAKING OFF NEGOTIATIONS due to recent leafleting by another organization not associated with the union or with Batay Ouvriye and not involved in the negotiations. Mr. Liautaud objects to the content of that leaflet. The union has made perfectly clear to Mr. Liautaud that the Megatex workers have no connection with the organization which produced the leaflet and had no part in writing it. For him to use the leaflet as a pretext for canceling negotiations, then, is evidence of bad faith on his part.

Mr. Liautaud, who owns two clothing production factories, also announced that he intends to CLOSE ONE OF THE FACTORIES and consolidate operations in the remaining factory due to a downturn in orders. This is in spite of evidence that the factory recently had been straining to keep up with orders, even having workers put in overtime hours. Workers suspect that the layoffs which will result from consolidating operations are part of a union busting scheme.

In a departure from earlier positive signs, Mr. Liautaud now seems to have committed himself to breaking the union at Megatex. I urge the Disney company to meet directly with the union at Megatex and with the worker organization Batay Ouvriye, and take a direct role part in the negotiating process.

The Walt Disney Company Code of Conduct for Manufacturers states: Manufacturers will respect the rights of employees to associate, organize and bargain collectively in a lawful and peaceful manner, without penalty or interference. The Disney company is to be commended for including this provision in its code. Please contact Mr. Liautaud and communicate to him that Disney takes its code and its reputation seriously.

Freedom of association will mean little if Disney withdraws its work from a factory where workers have exercised that right. The Disney company has an opportunity to demonstrate leadership in the apparel industry. On behalf of the Megatex workers, I urge you to CONTINUE PLACING DISNEY PRODUCTION ORDERS AT MEGATEX at a level that can provide for full employment levels.

I will continue to follow developments at Megatex through reports posted by reliable human rights organizations. I would seriously consider participating in a SUSTAINED INTERNATIONAL PRESSURE CAMPAIGN if either Mr. Liautaud, the owner of Megatex, or the Disney company fails to live up to its moral obligations to these workers. I very much hope that, instead, your intervention will give me cause to point to Disney as a company which is beginning to take responsibility for the actions of its contractors. Workers' rights to organize and engage in collective bargaining need to be more than just promises on paper. I count on you to ensure that the Walt Disney Company Code of Conduct becomes a living document in the workplaces of your manufacturers.




cc: Michel Liautaud, Megatex S.A.,
c/o Association des Industriels d'Haiti,
B.P. 2568, Port-au-Prince, Haiti (W.I.);
Campaign for Labor Rights <CLR@igc.org>
fax: (541) 431-0523