Since late 2020 Guatemalan Target workers, who make apparel sold at Target stores, have been fighting for justice as they had their benefits and pay stolen by JNB Global – one of the intermediary companies which Target contracts to manufacture Target clothes.
JNB Global’s actions were illegal according to Guatemalan labor law, not to mention violating Target’s code of conduct for “ethical sourcing”. Target claimed (until recently) that the issue had already been resolved and these workers were “fairly” compensated by JNB Global with a measly $4,000 collective payout, when workers were actually owed over $60,000 as determined by the Worker Rights Consortium.
When we discovered these fellow Target workers had been abused and suffered great hardships as a result of these illegal actions we knew we had to show solidarity. It isn’t enough that we organize within our stores and distribution centers across the US. Target and all corporations are organized internationally and so must we if we want real worker power.
With the aid of the Brazilian union National Confederation of Clothing Workers (CNTRV), we forced Target Corporation to reverse its prior position and hold itself and JNB Global accountable for their illegal and unethical conduct. Once workers united across borders Target and JNB Global not only paid Guatemalan workers what they were really owed, but also eliminated the newer, illegal contracts JNB Global coerced workers to sign, which had erased their prior benefits.
As CNTRV union president Cida Trajano said, “large retail companies need to be responsible for their supply chain, whether direct or indirect, whether inside or outside their country of origin”.
“In Brazil, we have cases related to conditions similar to slavery involving global retail brands. If the clothes sold at Target are made in violation of labor rights, it obviously needs to take responsibility. The world talks a lot about sustainability, but forgets that decent work is one of the pillars of a sustainable model of development and conscious consumption”, they added.
Without worker internationalism we remain disorganized, impotent, and at the mercy of corporations like Target and pro-corporate governments. Capitalist enterprises and their bought-off governments cannot be trusted to defend worker rights, let alone assist in building worker internationalism. It’s up to us alone and really is the only answer not just to defend labor rights, but to build independent power against all imperialist machinations to further exploit workers of the world.
Just as the Guatemalan state failed Guatemalan Target workers to uphold their labor laws, the US state fails to uphold labor law here. The laws are toothless anyways and this is by design. Target and all capitalist enterprises spend great resources to keep this dynamic in place where CEOs, shareholders, and their politicians keep their power and wealth off the backs of workers here and abroad.
If we want worker justice we must reject the false nationalism promoted by pro-corporate governments and even the mainstream unions which claim capitalists and workers have a shared interest.
We must understand that the working class and capitalists have nothing in common. This is the reality of the global class war. We have more in common with workers in Guatemala, Brazil, Russia, Ukraine, China, etc than we do with the capitalists and their governments in each of our countries.
Together workers of the world keep the globe spinning. Workers united across nations can force the corporations and their governments onto their knees. We can reshape the world based on joint worker control where everyone’s needs are met in a sustainable, planned fashion without war, famine, and poverty.
BUILD INTERNATIONAL WORKERS UNITY
FOR THE COORDINATED GLOBAL EXERCISE OF WORKERS POWER