Documentary: CAFTA No Good for Female Workers

Ever since it was passed five years ago, the Central America Free Trade Agreement-Dominican Republic (CAFTA-DR) has led to an increase in unemployment, violations of worker rights and discrimination against women in Honduras, according to an about-to-be-released documentary.

In late July, members of the advocacy group STITCH hosted an all-women’s labor solidarity delegation to Honduras to assess the impact of CAFTA-DR on women in the region. During the 10-day delegation, participants met with women union leaders in various industries, including women in the textile and banana sectors, as well as women leaders from the Honduran National Resistance Front.

In an attempt to capture the resilience and resistance of these working women in Honduras, STITCH will release a documentary later this month with footage and testimonies of the women who participated in their delegation from both the United States and Honduras.

“Pushing Back: Women Speak Out on Trade” explores the realities of globalization, trade and immigration with a unique glimpse into the organizing methods used by women unionists in Honduras.

During the visit, the STITCH delegation discovered that women who work in the banana industry process as many as 85,000 bananas for export every day. Some work as long as 12 hours a day seven days a week without overtime pay.

More and more women work for independent banana producers who do not allow unions. Attacks on those who support unions are on the rise since a coup d’état overthrew President Manuel Zelaya in 2009. In fact, the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) reports that Honduran employers, with the regime’s support, are working to weaken the trade union movement by trying everything from using hired killers to measures such as subcontracting. Three trade unionists were murdered in Honduras in 2010.

In spite of these tremendous challenges that disproportionately affect them, women in Honduras continue to fight to protect the gains of established unions and to organize new unions in growing industries.

by James Parks
My first encounter with unions was at Gannett’s newspaper in Cincinnati when my colleagues in the newsroom tried to organize a unit of The Newspaper Guild. I saw firsthand how companies pull out all the stops to prevent workers from forming a union. I am a journalist by trade, and I worked for newspapers in five different states before joining the AFL-CIO staff in 1990. I also have been a seminary student, drug counselor, community organizer, event planner, adjunct college professor and county bureaucrat. My proudest career moment, though, was when I served, along with other union members and staff, as an official observer for South Africa’s first multiracial elections.Contact James Parks at:

You must be logged in to post a comment Login