WASHINGTON — A report released by Reps. George Miller (D., Calif.) and James McGovern (D., Mass.) on Tuesday accused the Colombian government of failing to implement a labor action plan, considered the linchpin to Congressional approval of the U.S.-Colombia Free Trade Agreement in 2011.
The report called on the South American country to improve the situation on the ground. The lawmakers also pressed the Obama administration to step up pressure on Colombia and separately to include binding labor rights language in a much larger trade agreement under negotiation — the Trans-Pacific Partnership between the U.S. and 11 countries.
The Obama administration reached a key agreement on labor provisions with Colombia in April 2011, aimed at providing broader protections for labor leaders and union organizing. The labor pact helped break a four-year impasse in Congress on the free-trade agreement between the U.S. and Colombia, which passed later that year. While Colombia is not a large apparel and textile supplier to the U.S., combined imports rose 6 percent to $261 million for the year endedAug. 31.
The new report by Miller and McGovern — “The U.S-Colombia Labor Action Plan: Failing on the Ground” — charges that violence against trade unionists has escalated in the past two years. “Despite the LAP, murders and threats against union members and harmful subcontracting persist in Colombia largely unabated,” said the report, noting that 22 trade unionists were murdered for union involvement in 2012, while about 413 threats against trade unionists were documented. “Because of the fear of violence or employer retaliation associated with organizing or joining a union and the prevalence of antiunion and antiworker prejudice, only four percent of Colombian workers are union members.”
Miller and McGovern, who visited Colombia in August, heard testimony from 50 people and met with workers, union leaders and labor lawyers over several days. Among the key findings highlighted in the report were that subcontracting is still pervasive, despite a commitment to crack down on the practice; the Colombian government has failed to collect fines for violations, leading to continued “flagrant violations,” and workers are still subjected to retaliation for trying to form a union. The report also stated that more than 90 percent of cases of violence against trade unionists do not result in conviction.
The lawmakers made several recommendations to the Congressional Monitoring Group on Labor Rights in Colombia, including urging the Colombian government to strengthen its inspection system by expanding the capacity of trained inspectors to assess fines, fully investigate alleged violence and address gaps that exist in protection mechanisms for trade unionists, labor activists and human rights advocates.
They also called on the Obama administration to advocate more for labor rights in Colombia, undertake its own independent investigations and include a binding agreement with Vietnam and other TPP countries with weak labor protections that links their participation in TPP to “measurable labor rights improvement.”
“Azzedine has been one of the biggest influences in my life. He has always been such a strong, loving, fatherly figure to me. I call him Papa. His designs are indescribably unique, they are pieces of art. He knew how to make the female form look its loveliest. I have so many memories of him; my favorite might be during my first show with him in Paris. He liked me and he wanted to help me get more work. He called all his friends at Kenzo and Comme des Garcons, and asked them to book me. They said, ‘But she can’t walk!’ And he said, ‘but she has such a great ass!' His friendship and support has been the great privilege of my career. I can't imagine life without him. Repose en paix mon Papa.” - @stephanieseymour tells @wwd. #wwdfashion (📷: @steveeichner) #alaia #azzedinealaia
Azzedine Alaïa, flanked by two of his closest friends, models Stephanie Seymour and Naomi Campbell.
He designed Seymour’s dress for her 1995 wedding to Peter Brant, and treated Campbell (who famously called him Papa), like a daughter. For more on the legendary designer, tap the link in bio. #wwdfashion #alaia #azzedinealaia
Azzedine Alaïa's “I-did-it-my-way” ethos stood out starkly at a time when brands are experimenting with consumer-facing fashion shows, coed formats and trans-seasonal collections – anything to perk up lackluster sales of ready-to-wear in an age of Insta-everything. “It’s not creation anymore. This becomes a purely industrial approach,” the late designer told WWD in an interview last year. “But anyway, the rhythm of collections is so stupid. It’s unsustainable. There are too many collections.” Read more about the iconic designer’s life and work on wwd.com, link in bio. #wwdfashion #azzedinealaia (📷: @WWD Archive, 1986) #alaia
Sneaker reselling app @goat’s latest exhibit, "The Greatest: New York," tells the story of New York's sneaker culture. To celebrate the exhibit, an intimate crowd gathered on Thursday night at the pop-up gallery space, located at Platform in Culver City, to hear guest speaker and illustrator @esymai talk about her own rise in streetwear and women in the business. "For me I'm just someone who is creative. I like to create things," said Chang. #wwdfashion
Azzedine Alaïa, one of the most iconic couturiers of the modern era whose body-con designs defined Eighties fashion, has died in Paris. The diminutive Tunisian-born designer, known for his structured knitted dresses with fitted waists and impeccably cut, figure-hugging second skin silhouettes was deeply admired by his peers, and counted supermodel Naomi Campbell - his adoptive daughter - among his inner circle, one of a gang of glamazons including Farida Khelfa, Carla Bruni and Stephanie Seymour who became ambassadors of his style. (📷: Alexandre Guirkinger) #wwdblast