Pascrell, Sewell, and Blumenauer Investigate US Company Supplier Abuse Against Haitian Workers
Pascrell, Sewell, and Blumenauer Investigate US Company Supplier Abuse Against Haitian Workers
Amazon, Disney, Target and Walmart among 62 companies surveyed on factory protections for workers in island nations
WASHINGTON, DC – U.S. Representatives Bill Pascrell, Jr. (D-NJ-09), Chairman of the House Ways and Means Subcommittee on Oversight, Terri Sewell (D-AL-07) and Earl Blumenauer (D -OR-03), the chairman of the subcommittee on trade led 12 colleagues from the Chamber of the Ways and Means committee to ask the heads of 62 American companies importing clothing from Haiti for information on their protections in place for workers employed by their companies and suppliers. Protecting Haitian workers has become even more urgent as the island nation continues to recover and rebuild from natural disasters.
The letter is signed by Representatives Pascrell, Blumenauer, Sewell, Mike Thompson (D-CA-05), John Larson (D-CT-01), Linda Sanchez (D-CA-38), Brian Higgins (D-NY- 26), Suzan DelBene (D-WA-01), Judy Chu (D-CA-27), Gwen Moore (D-WI-04), Don Beyer (D-VA-08), Dwight Evans (D-PA- 03), Jimmy Panetta (D-CA-20), Jimmy Gomez (D-CA-34) and Stacy Plaskett (D-VI).
“Today we are writing to you as supporters of the United States’ trade agendas with Haiti regarding documented reports that workers in the Haitian garment industry have been denied health services when employers have failed. not paid in full and on time health insurance on behalf of employees. We are writing to you because your businesses benefit from these trade programs and rely on Haitian employers and garment workers to create your products. members write the 62 garment companies.
Independent reports found that 84% of factories did not meet health insurance and social security contribution requirements, including the requirement to send employee payroll deductions to respective Haitian agencies between October 2019 and September 2020, as required by Haitian law.
The Ways and Means subcommittee on trade received testimony on September 10, 2020, that such practices in the Haitian garment industry are “particularly egregious”. At least two workers died in 2020 after being denied emergency medical care to which they should have been entitled because their employers had previously deducted health insurance contributions from their individual earnings, according to union advocates.
The CEOs of the following companies received the letter from members: Abercrombie & Fitch, Amazon, Ariat, Augusta Sportswear, Banding Holdings, Blitz Apparel, C-Life Group, Calhoun Sportswear, Calvin Klein, Careismatic, Carters, Casper, Champro, Cintas Corp , Dick’s Sporting Goods, Disney, Elite Sportswear, Fabletics, Fabrik Apparel, Fanatics Apparel, Fast Retailing, Fishman & Tobin, Freeze, Fruit of the Loom, Gap, Gildan Activewear, Global Brands Group (GBG), GOEX, Hanes, HOT SUJET , ICAT DE CV, Jockey, Just Play, Kazoo, Kohl’s, Landau Uniforms, Li & Fung, Li & Fung LF Americas, Lululemon, Mattel, New Balance, Next Level Apparel / YS Garments, Nordstrom, Peace Textile America, PINNACLE, Propper International, PVH Corp., Recover Brands, Reebok, Reed Manufacturing Company, Robinson Manufacturing Company, SanMar Corp, Serta Simmons Bedding, Superior Group of Companies, Target, The Children’s Place, Under Armor, Uniform Advantage, Val D’or Apparel, VF Corporation and the North Face, Walmart and Zorrel International.
The text of the letters from the members is provided below.
November 5, 2021
We are deeply disheartened by the acute humanitarian crisis and the recent tragedies that have befallen Haiti in recent months. Between the ongoing political turmoil and the recent earthquake, we hope for full recovery and healing for those directly affected. The historic ties between the United States and Haiti are the basis of our committee’s commitment to come to the aid of the Haitian people. Accordingly, we will continue to support Haitians in their work of reconstruction and recovery. Our trade engagement with Haiti aims to promote Haiti’s inclusive and equitable economic development, and also to combat transnational economic practices that may undermine or hinder Haiti’s progress, including recent supply chain practices that preceded the country’s most recent adversities.
Today we are writing to you as supporters of the United States’ trade agendas with Haiti regarding documented reports that Haitian garment industry workers have been denied health services when employers have failed. paid health insurance in full and on time on behalf of employees. We are writing to you because your businesses benefit from these trade programs and rely on Haitian employers and garment workers to create your products. As you know, US trade policies increasingly prioritize collaboration between supply chains to improve labor standards.
Independent reports found that 84% of factories did not meet health insurance and social security contribution requirements, including the requirement to send employee payroll deductions to respective Haitian agencies between October 2019 and September 2020, as required by Haitian law. The Ways and Means Subcommittee of the Chamber of Commerce received testimony on September 10, 2020, that such practices in the Haitian garment industry are “particularly egregious”.
At least two workers died in 2020 after being denied emergency medical care to which they should have been entitled because their employers had previously deducted health insurance contributions from their individual earnings, according to union advocates. A worker, Sandra René, a 30-year-old woman, more than six months pregnant with her first child, was denied treatment because the employer did not make the appropriate payments to the government, although her employer deducted the employees’ share for health insurance contributions. of his salary during his 9 years of previous employment. Apparently unable to pay the health care fee of over $ 600 that was owed in full before the required treatment, Sandra and her unborn child died a few days later. Another worker, Liunel Pierre, is said to have died after being denied critical dialysis treatment for similar accounting reasons. Given that workers in Haiti are already exposed to COVID-19 and security threats due to civil unrest, increased crime and political instability, access to earned benefits should be the key. least of their worries.
These types of reported employer practices undermine our common efforts to promote the economic and public well-being of workers in Haiti and the United States through fair business dealings, foreign investment, and policy development. To help resolve these issues, we respectfully request that you answer the questions below by December 1, 2021:
- Have your supplier factories failed to pay their employees’ health or social security contributions in the past two years? If yes, please describe how the problem was addressed or resolved.
- Is your company working to ensure that your suppliers’ factories in Haiti comply with health and social security requirements? If so, how?
We recognize that each factory is responsible for obeying the laws and upholding labor agreements. However, your leadership and attention to this issue within your supply chain will help promote transparency and respect for the rule of law throughout the industry. It is imperative that we work together to remedy any violation of labor law and ensure factories comply in the future. Your help is essential to this endeavor.
We appreciate your attention to this issue and your continued investment in the Haitian people and their economy. We hope to receive a response to our request by December 1, 2021.
 For example, the HOPE II legislation of 2008 created the new Compliance Needs Assessment and Correction (TAICNAR) Improvement of Technical Assistance Program (TAICNAR), also known as the Better Work Haiti program ( BWH) of the International Labor Organization, to engage Haitian American producers, workers and importers. to help meet ILO core labor standards, Haitian labor laws, and acceptable working conditions with respect to minimum wages, working hours, and occupational safety and health. HOPE II also requires participation in the BWH program so that importing companies can access the tariff advantages of the program.
 The ILO BWH has reported high rates of non-compliance by factories with required health care and social security payments over the past decade. See https://www.solidaritycenter.org/haiti-garment-workers-negotiate-landmark-health-payment/ and Better Work Haiti annual and semi-annual compliance summary reports at www.betterwork.org/bw-resources -pubs /.
 Testimony of Lauren L. Stewart, Director of the Americas Regional Program at the Solidarity Center, Trade Subcommittee of the Ways and Means Committee, September 10, 2020.
 Failure of Factories in Haiti to Pay Legally Required Health Benefits, Related Deaths of Two Workers at Collegiate Apparel Manufacturing Facilities and Status of Corrective Actions, Worker Rights Consortium, June 17, 2021, https: // www .workersrights.org /wp-content/uploads/2021/06/WRC-Report-on-Palm-and-SISA_June-2021.pdf
 The cost of care was equivalent to 140 days of work at minimum wage. Most textile workers do not have private insurance and have to rely on public health services.
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