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Sender: owner-imap@webmap.missouri.edu
Date: Sat, 6 Sep 97 16:07:30 CDT
From: rich@pencil.gwu.edu (Rich Winkel)
Organization: PACH
Subject: Haitian Worker Solidarity
Article: 17530

/** labr.global: 199.0 **/
** Topic: Haitian Worker Solidarity **
** Written 2:39 PM Sep 5, 1997 by labornews in cdp:labr.global **

Haitian worker solidarity

From Ellen Starbird, 8 September 1997

Dear Sisters and Brothers:

Disney Corp. has been authorizing a line of clothing through H.H. Cutler for some time. In 1995 Cutler laid off 2,500 UNITE members from Rapid City claiming a down turn in sales required the cut. Almost immediately they started subcontracting in Haiti with garment factories and continued during the administration of the coup that deposed Aristide. The quotas for Haitians were as high as any for U.S. garment workers and Port au Prince Haiti took on 2,300 garment workers for H.H. Cutler.

Last year those Haitian workers, with no safety net, no strike fund (strikes are illegal) and an 80% unemployment rate in Port au Prince took on the behemoth corp. giant. In definance of the law they organized one day walk outs forcing the newly returned Aristide government to begin enforcing the legal minimum wage that the companies had been subverting using a byzantine piece system. The legal minimum wage they won: .26 an hour.

Now that the workers have organized and demanded union recognition, H.H. Cutler has declared another downturn in their sales. The National Labor Committee (a human rights watch dog organization) has reviewed their public records and found no legitimate business justification to substanciate this alleged down turn. The obvious suspicion is that these valient workers are being retaliated against for their union activity.

H.H. Cutler claims it is a coincidence that they are simultaneously expanding their Asian workforce where the workers will be compensated .13 per hour, and there is less interference from church and human rights groups.

The lay offs are expected in September, between the 8th and 15th. While many of us in the U.S. are fond of saying in the grievance procedure that discharge is the capital punishment of labor relations no where is that analogy less metaphorical than Haiti. Port au Prince has a very high unemployment rate, starvation is a fact of life, and it requires no imagination to speculate that at least some of the 2,300 Haitians who stood up for their rights will lose their children or their own lives to starvation if Disney proceeds with this termination plan in the next two weeks.

Please write: Write today, write often, forgodsake write before sept. 6th. Write your international president and ask if he thinks its a good idea to continue to offer Disney as a vacation benefit in the union's benefit packet after sept. 6th (unless Disney stays in unionized garment facilities). cc: Mike Eisner on your inquiry.THE HAITIAN WORKERS HAVE NOT REQUESTED WE THREATEN A BOYCOTT OF DISNEY. However it is fair to question the wisdom and solidarity of advertising FOR Disney, at least Oct - Dec. IF they proceed with this brutal plan.

You can get back to me if you like on what you're doing and I'll try to see to it that the workers in Haiti get the message that they are not alone.

Thanks in advance. Ellen Starbird, ( for infonly: labor studies laney college)

Sept. 1, 1997

Michael Eisner, CEO
Walt Disney Co.
500 So. Buena Vista
Burbank, CA

I'm writing to demand H.H. Cutler continue to do business in Haiti and negotiate in good faith with the Haitian workers.


OR You can e-mail him at: disney_communications@disney.com