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Cupid Vice-President Claims to Have Best Factory in Nicaragua
Angry about having received "a great many faxes," Tony Angelino, Executive Vice-President for Production at Cupid Foundations, Inc., called the Nicaragua Network in Washington to say that his company runs the best factory in Nicaragua. He said that the workers at Cupid Foundations had chosen an internal "workers' association" instead of the union. He refused to recognize that workers would feel afraid to support a union at a meeting organized by management and attended by representatives of the right-wing Arnoldo Aleman government's Labor Ministry, the local chief of police and an official of the U.S. Embassy. Angelino instead accused the union of threatening the workers, not noting that no threat the union could make would be as strong as the one made by management that workers would lose their jobs if they joined the union.
President Aleman recently visited the Free Trade Zone for groundbreaking on the construction of the third plant owned by Nien Hsing International, a Taiwanese corporation. According to a Witness for Peace Update, Aleman stated that investment and jobs should be upheld at all costs, adding, "Those who do not wish for the development of our nation by means of investment and jobs use the media to misinform." Nien Hsing manager Lucas Huang said that "recent attacks by politicized labor movements have unleashed a misinformation campaign on an international level against our businesses which endangers the stability of our investments."
The international campaigns, however, recognize that the investment and the jobs are essential for Nicaraguan workers. They are have only demanded that the Labor Ministry and the maquiladora (assembly plant) owners follow the Constitution and Labor Code of Nicaragua which give workers the right to organize.
When workers at the Cupid Foundations factory in Nicaragua--which makes women's undergarments for the U.S. market--formed a union, management resorted to intimidation and firing of union leaders in an attempt to destroy the union. The factories of Cupid Foundations, a North American company with headquarters on Madison Avenue in New York City, are unionized in the United States, but evidently the company does not recognize the same rights of free association and collective bargaining for its overseas workers. Because this is an American company, even the U.S. Embassy has gotten involved -- apparently on the side of management. Numerous faxes have gone out in support of workers, and with further international support for the workers, it
still may be possible to save the union.
At the request of Cupid Foundations management, the Minister of Labor has canceled the registration of the executive committee of the union. The union, however, has placed a demand signed by 20 union members from the factory before the court in the department of Masaya asking that the cancellation not be allowed. The union still has its legal recognition and thus could still be revived if management were to stop its attacks.
Send this modified sample letter by mail or fax to Cupid Foundations:
Mr. David Welsch and Ms. Marilyn Welsch Cupid Foundations, Inc. 200 Madison Ave. New York, NY 10016 Fax: (212) 481-9357
Dear Mr. Welsch and Ms. Welsch:
It has come to my attention that, at the Cupid Foundations, Inc., factory in Nicaragua, a union organized by workers there is being destroyed through management intimidation. After the union received legal recognition earlier this year, several leaders were fired and others were "convinced" to renounce their support of the union. The meeting called by management in May at which government, police and U.S. Embassy officials were present--but union representatives were not--could not be a fair venue for a free choice by workers.
On Wednesday, June 11, the Nicaraguan Ministry of Labor, at the request of management, canceled the registration of union officers for the union at Cupid Foundations. The union, however, still has its legal recognition.
Three Cupid workers who were union leaders were fired because of their union activity. Others signed sworn statements stating, in the words of one that "I received threats, harassment and intimidation, that I would be fired if I continued to belong to the recently formed union in this company of the Free Trade Zone." Even though you may have, as your spokesperson said, "the best factory in Nicaragua," Cupid workers should not have to fear the loss of their jobs if they support an outside union over the "internal association" your spokesperson said was functioning in the factory.
As a consumer and person who is concerned about labor rights, I respectfully urge you to investigate what has happened at your factory in Nicaragua. I understand that, in the United States, Cupid Foundations is a union company. Certainly Cupid workers in Nicaragua should have the same rights as the workers here in the U.S.
I hope that Cupid Foundations will:
1. Reinstate the three fired workers who were union leaders (Eudice Poveda, Nora Cerrato, and Ana Julia Espinoza); and
2. End the harassment of the union and allow organization to proceed.
I hope to hear from you in the near future about your policies at the Cupid Foundations factory in Nicaragua.
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