A legacy of political instability, armed conflicts and flagrant human rights violations has impoverished workers in many Latin American and Caribbean countries. In Colombia, where year after year, the murder rate of trade unionists is the worst in the world, workers literally risk their lives to seek workplace fairness through trade unions. Trade unionists also are under attack in Central America and Mexico.
Discrimination and Denationalization in the Dominican Republic (
A humanitarian crisis is unfolding in the Dominican Republic. Four generations of workers and their families, primarily of Haitian descent, face violations of their fundamental rights and growing insecurity. The government has instituted a severely flawed naturalization program that threatens to deny thousands of Dominicans of Haitian descent their right to citizenship, barring them from participating in the only society they have ever known. The government’s citizenship policy also threatens to force migrant workers originally from Haiti, many of whom have spent decades contributing to Dominican society, out of their homes. The deliberate creation of a stateless underclass increases the already formidable risks of exploitation to Dominican workers of Haitian descent and Haitian migrant workers. Workers without documentation cannot enter the formal economy and are pushed into dangerous, low-wage work. Workers are less likely to report abuse, as they have few legal protections and fear the threat of deportation if they seek help from government officials. The Dominican Republic does not recognize undocumented workers as trade union members, leaving them without a voice on the job or access to social services. Stateless children often have trouble registering for high school and sitting for requisite exams that require identity documents, making them more likely to end up working in the worst forms of child labor. Read the full report.
Trade, Violence and Migration: The Broken Promises to Honduran Workers
In October 2014, the delegation led by AFL-CIO Executive Vice President Tefere Gebre arrived in Honduras to meet with workers, labor, faith and community partners as well as government officials and learn about the impact of U.S. trade and immigration policies on Honduran workers and their families. The Northern Triangle as a whole—the section of the Central American isthmus that includes Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador—is challenged by widespread labor and human rights violations, crime, violence and corruption. Powerful gangs threaten, intimidate and kill families. The delegation decided to travel to Honduras because it shares many of the same problems of its neighboring countries, but it stands apart in its severity. Honduras is currently the murder capital of the world and has in past years been shaken by political instability, institutional corruption and repression. The children of Honduras and their families are fleeing their communities at a higher rate than in any other country in Central America—more than 18,000 unaccompanied Honduran children arrived in the United States in FY 2014. Read the full report.
Yesterday, the U.S. Department of Labor released a report in response to the complaint filed by U.S. and Colombian unions detailing systematic labor rights violations in Colombia. The U.S. government acknowledged many of the serious issues raised in the complaint, including inadequate labor inspections and enforcement actions, abusive forms of subcontracting that prevent union organizing and keep the majority of Colombian workers in precarious jobs, and impunity for threats and violence against trade unionists, which creates a climate of fear.