Author: Caitlin Hoover

63,000 work at Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport, and 50,000 work at Toronto’s Lester B. Pearson International Airport, making it Canada’s largest worksite.  Principally focused on airports large enough to host the upcoming 2026 FIFA World Cup, hosted in North America, this GLJ-IRLF report describes U.S. airport governance, airport jobs, airport employers, and policy tools for improving the quality of the work that makes air transportation possible.  Its purpose is to acquaint the reader with the realities and opportunities of airport work, noting the great strides workers, their organizations, and their allies have recently made in improving the quality of jobs at airports.  The report also looks ahead to the 2026 FIFA World Cup, briefly surveying the opportunities and challenges these games present to North American airport workers.

Download the report: https://globallaborjustice.org/making-airports-work-for-airport-workers/

In a month FIFA will be making its final city selection for the North American 2026 World Cup which will take place with games in the U.S., Mexico, and Canada. FIFA and the World Cup’s dismal record on human rights, from Qatar to Brazil to South Africa and prioritization of corporate sponsors over communities and workers impacted has tarnished the internationally-beloved game of football. 

As planning for the World Cup to be held in North America in 2026 gets under way, there has never been a more important time to put pressure on FIFA to set and abide by minimum labor and human rights standards. FIFA’s recent unprecedented action to ban Russia from the 2022 World Cup demonstrates that they are not impervious to pressure from a growing movement of fans, athletes, workers and communities of solidarity across national borders. 

FIFA is set to generate around $7 billion from #WorldCup2026, but the thousands of workers who will make the event possible currently earn the U.S. federal minimum wage of just $7.25 an hour. GLJ-ILRF is joining a coalition of labor, human rights, environmental and other organizations concerned with FIFA’s social impact to demand it uphold fair human rights and labor standards for these mostly black, brown, and immigrant workers and for all who will be impacted by the World Cup games in host cities in the US, Mexico, and Canada. Instead of a race to the bottom, FIFA must raise labor standards, just as it purports to uphold the values of fair play in football. 

The coalition is calling on FIFA to uphold its commitments to human and labor rights in the 2026 World Cup and seeks to transform the organization into a globally responsible steward of human rights and dignity both on and off the field. It is time we take the game of football back.

You can join us in taking action right now, by signing the petition: https://act.aflcio.org/letters/fifa/

Background: In April 2022, Indian women- and Dalit-worker led union TTCU signed a historic agreement with clothing and textile manufacturer Eastman Exports to end gender-based violence and harassment at Eastman factories in Dindigul, in the southern state of Tamil Nadu, India. TTCU, GLJ-ILRF, and AFWA also signed a legally binding agreement, subject to arbitration, with multinational fashion company H&M, which has an ongoing business relationship with Eastman Exports. This agreement requires H&M to support and enforce the TTCU-Eastman Exports agreement. Under the terms of the agreement, if Eastman Exports violates its commitments, H&M is obligated to impose business consequences on Eastman Exports until Eastman comes into compliance. 

Together, these interlocking agreements constitute the Dindigul Agreement — an “enforceable brand agreement” (EBA) in which multinational companies legally commit to labor and allies to use their supply chain relationships to support a worker- or union-led program at certain factories or worksites. 

Signatories: 

  • Union — Tamil Nadu Textile and Common Labour Union (TTCU)
  • Supplier — Eastman Exports Global Clothing Pvt. Ltd. (Eastman Exports)
  • Fashion company — H&M Group (H&M) (owns H&M, COS, Arket, Monki, & Other Stories)
  • US and regional allies — Asia Floor Wage Alliance (AFWA) and Global Labor Justice – International Labor Rights Forum (GLJ-ILRF)

Scope: The Dindigul Agreement covers all workers at Natchi Apparel and Eastman Spinning Mills, in total over 5000 workers. Almost all workers at these units are women and are caste-oppressed, and the majority are Dalit, born into the lowest rung of Hinduism’s caste system and subject to severe discrimination. Many are 18-22 years old, and many are migrants from neighboring states who live in management-owned dormitories and do not speak the local language. The Dindigul Agreement lasts three years with the possibility of renewal.

Components to end gender-based violence and harassment: The Dindigul Agreement creates conditions for union-led collective action to end GBVH at Natchi Apparel and Eastman Spinning Mills in the following ways:

  • Enabling collective action on GBVH through AFWA Safe Circles. The Dindigul Agreement implements AFWA’s Safe Circles approach, a worker- and union-led training, monitoring, and remediation program to end GBVH in fashion manufacturing, which includes: 
    • Training: TTCU is granted access to train all management, supervisors and workers on GBVH and their rights and responsibilities under the Dindigul Agreement, on full pay during normal working hours.
    • Shop floor monitoring and remediation: TTCU will train shop floor monitors, union-selected workers who help their co-workers report GBVH occurring on the shop floor and who hold regular meetings with management to resolve it. 
    • Anti-retaliation protections: the Dindigul Agreement prohibits retaliation against any worker for participating in or cooperating with the Agreement. Shop floor monitors have heightened protections from retaliation in the form of a rebuttable presumption of retaliatory intent if management or supervisors take any adverse action against them.

  • Adopting global labor standards on GBVH. The Dindigul Agreement requires Eastman to prohibit gender-based violence and harassment (GBVH) in the world of work at included factories as defined by the ILO Violence and Harassment Convention, 2019 (known as C190). C190 recognizes that: GBVH includes a wide range of behaviors and harms including physical, psychological, sexual, or economic harms; GBVH at work includes conduct during, linked to or arising out of work, not just at the workplace itself; and that GBVH occurs at the intersection of other forms of discrimination, such as race, migration status or caste. 

  • Protections against caste and migration status based discrimination: The Dindigul Agreement specifically prohibits GBVH at the intersection of caste or migration status. These critical protections will allow caste-oppressed and migrant workers to monitor, remediate and eliminate these forms of discrimination at the workplace. 

  • Reflecting women garment workers’ experience of GBVH. The Dindigul Agreement requires Eastman to explicitly prohibit at included factories specific forms of GBVH that TTCU and AFWA’s Women Leadership Committee of women trade union leaders in the garment sector in Asia have identified as being systemic in fashion manufacturing. Examples include gendered verbal abuse and corporal punishment. Through Safe Circles, women workers will identify specific ways these GBVH practices are happening on the shop floor and work with management to remediate them. 

  • Protecting the right to form and join unions. The Dindigul Agreement recognizes that GBVH can only be prevented when workers have the right to speak out with a collective voice, and prohibits any violation of workers’ rights to form and join unions and engage in collective bargaining under ILO standards on freedom of association. 

  • Building on and strengthening India’s mandatory workplace GBVH committees. India’s 2013 Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace Act requires workplaces to create Internal Complaints Committees (ICCs) to receive, investigate and recommend remediation of complaints of GBVH connected to work. The Dindigul Agreement strengthens these committees at Natchi Apparel and Eastman Spinning Mills in several ways. Under the Agreement, ICCs are composed of a majority of women workers selected by TTCU and can delegate to the roster of independent expert assessors (discussed below) to investigate allegations of GBVH. Upon receiving a complaint, ICCs and assessors are required to ensure worker safety and privacy. If and when the ICC finds GBVH has occurred, Eastman must follow any committee-recommended remedies, which are designed to be survivor focused in process and outcome.

  • A new independent grievance mechanism with business consequences. The Dindigul Agreement establishes a roster of independent expert assessors, appointed by the Oversight Committee, to directly receive, investigate, and make findings on complaints of Eastman non-compliance with any aspect of the Dindigul Agreement, including Eastman failure to implement any ICC-recommended remedy for GBVH. Independent expert assessors have the power to report to the Oversight Committee if Eastman fails to comply with any aspect of the Dindigul Agreement, which can trigger business consequences from H&M unless Eastman comes into compliance. 

  • Transparency and industry learning. The Dindigul Agreement will make public and key data points about its implementation in order to promote transparency. Recognizing that GBVH in the garment industry in Tamil Nadu is not unique to the included worksites, the signatories will take steps to implement best practices from the Dindigul Agreement at other clothing and textile manufacturers in Tamil Nadu, India.

Governance: The Dindigul Agreement creates an Oversight Committee to supervise the execution of the Agreement, composed of an independent gender and labor rights expert and representatives from TTCU, AFWA, GLJ-ILRF, Eastman, and up to two signatory fashion companies (if additional fashion companies join the Dindigul Agreement). The Oversight Committee role includes receiving any reports from the Agreement’s independent grievance mechanism (discussed below) that Eastman Exports has failed to comply with the Agreement, which also triggers mandatory action from H&M under its legally binding agreement with TTCU, AFWA and GLJ-ILRF.

Enforcement: The Dindigul Agreement includes a legally binding agreement between TTCU, AFWA and GLJ-ILRF and H&M that creates support and accountability for Eastman’s compliance with the terms of Eastman’s agreement with TTCU. H&M is required to take steps to impose business consequences for Eastman Exports if Eastman Exports violates its agreement with TTCU. This agreement is enforceable through binding arbitration in Stockholm, Sweden, the home jurisdiction of H&M. If H&M breaks their contract with TTCU, for example by failing to impose business consequences on Eastman Exports as required, TTCU, AFWA, or GLJ-ILRF or witness signatories can enforce the contract against the fashion company through arbitration. The contract includes clauses from the Model Arbitration Clauses for the Resolution of Disputes under Enforceable Brand Agreements, co-authored by GLJ-ILRF. 

Making history: The Dindigul Agreement is the first EBA in India, where clothing manufacturing is the second largest employer for women after agriculture. The Agreement is also the first EBA in the world to include both clothing factories and factories that produce fabric and textiles for use in clothing, Dindigul being a global hub for manufacturing textiles that get used in clothing factories in India and around the world. The Dindigul Agreement was the central demand of the Justice for Jeyasre Campaign, led by TTCU, AFWA and GLJ-ILRF and honors the loss and legacy of Jeyasre Kathiravel, a Dalit woman and TTCU member murdered by her supervisor at Natchi Apparel in January 2021.  

Dindigul-Agreement-Fact-Sheet-FINAL-5.17

January 5th, 2022

The following is a statement from GLJ-ILRF, Asia Floor Wage Alliance and the Tamil Nadu Textile and Common Labour Union (TTCU):

This week marks the one-year anniversary of the horrific murder of Jeyasre Kathiravel, a young Indian Dalit woman, a student and an organizer against gender-based violence and harassment at a large Indian garment manufacturer sourcing to major U.S. and European fashion brands. Jeyasre was murdered by her supervisor after facing months of sexual harassment.

On this painful anniversary we stand with Jeyasre’s family, her loved ones, and all of her fellow union members of TTCU, as we honor her life by steadfastly working to transform her former factory into a space free of gender-based violence, harassment and discrimination based on caste or status as migrants. 

The push for change at Jeyasre’s supplier has advanced significantly. This has been possible in part because of the massive outpouring of solidarity including from unions from over 30 countries, women’s rights organizations, Dalit rights organizations, retail workers, models, immigrant rights advocates, and so many more who met with members of the campaign and committed to support the push for structural changes in the fashion supply chain.

We are working closely with several brands and the supplier to reach an agreement to prevent and remediate gender-based violence and harassment and encourage freedom of association at the supplier factories. We acknowledge the steps that these brands and the supplier are taking towards this, including the gesture by the supplier to commemorate the tragic death of Jeyasre by providing educational scholarships to children of garment workers in Jeyasre’s factory. 

We will announce the results of our negotiations at the end of this month. 

We call on our friends and allies to honor the life of Jeyasre by continuing to stand in solidarity with her and her fellow garment workers who are organizing for an end to gender-based violence and harassment not only in Tamil Nadu but across fashion supply chains globally. 

January 27th, 2022

This week international attention is on Honduras as U.S. Vice President Harris visits the country for the inauguration of Xiomara Castro, Honduras’ first woman President, elected on a platform of tackling the enormous inequalities that have historically plagued the country. Much of the attention will be focused on Honduras’ relationship with the United States, and the Biden administration’s desire to address root causes of migration. Castro’s presidency offers tremendous hope for Hondurans on many levels but key to the question of migration is in their fight to expand labor rights and raise their standard of living in a country where nearly half the population lives below the poverty line.

In the 13 years since the 2009 coup that overthrew the presidency of her husband Jose Manuel Zelaya and ushered in an era of massive labor abuse and impunity for violence against human rights and labor rights defenders, Honduran workers have struggled to organize despite the political and economic forces aligned against them.

For example, in Choluteca, in the south of the country, it’s been over six long years since workers tried to unionize to end abusive conditions in the melon fields, and over a year since billion dollar global agricultural giant Fyffes (owned by Japanese multinational Sumitomo) came to the table to negotiate. To date, no agreement has been signed, and many key worker leaders with the union, Sindicato de Trabajadores de la Agroindustria y Similares (STAS), have been locked out of jobs with chances of employment diminishing by the day as the harvest season progresses. In December, frustrated with Fyffes’ failure to move forward and its ongoing discrimination against STAS-affiliated worker leaders, union members protested in front of Fyffes offices in Choluteca. 

This week STAS called on the incoming administration to take decisive steps to ensure labor rights: “We only hope that the new president will remove [the current local ministry of labor officials]…because they marginalized us and conspired with the company and they’ve destroyed workers’ chances here in the southern region. The Ministry of Labor’s policies support the companies who abuse and mistreat workers in this country,” said STAS leader Moisés Sánchez.

Despite Castro’s election victory, even before she assumed office, a move by representatives of the old political elite to retain leadership of the national congress has brought residents into the streets of the capital city Tegucigalpa. Popular protests have broken out against this attempt to wrest legislative power from Castro’s Libre party that threatens her policy agenda, including expanding protections for workers and the right to organize. STAS leaders have been in Tegucigalpa and are watching the events closely. 

STAS and other union leaders sent a letter of congratulations and support to Castro, in which they also called on her administration to take action to hold Fyffes accountable. (English translation) 

Melon workers in Choluteca are part of a huge movement of workers who have fought long and hard for change in Honduras.  

For many years, the US government has done little to support democratic reform and workers’ rights in Honduras, while demonizing Honduran migrants to the US who have tried to escape the violence and grinding poverty in a country held captive by corrupt politicians, narco-gang leaders and cruel and extractive multinational corporate interests. Vice President Harris should use her visit to the country to make clear the US government’s support for democracy, transparency and labor rights that will provide good jobs and economic growth and enable Hondurans to build a safe and stable society.  

As the Honduran people fight for the future they deserve, Fyffes must stop delaying and sign a fair deal for melon workers. International allies are united in our fight to support STAS and all workers in the country.  

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