NEW YORK — UNITE and Gap Inc. reached a truce on Monday.
The union and the San Francisco retailer said they were working together to support an effort by El Salvadoran garment workers to open a unionized apparel factory called Just Garments.
For the past two years, UNITE had been blasting Gap over what it described as unjust working conditions at some foreign factories that produced clothing for the San Francisco-based company’s stable of brands. In particular, UNITE officials complained that one El Salvadoran factory had closed, throwing all its employees out of work, after they attempted to unionize.
The former workers from that plant are expected to join Just Garments, according to union officials.
A Gap spokesman said that the retailer had agreed to place an order for T-shirts at the facility, as long as it meets Gap’s quality and production standards. Asked for more specifics on timing, he said, “We would expect it to happen this year and sooner than later.”
“We’ve had our differences with Gap in the past and we may in the future,” UNITE president Bruce Raynor said in a statement.
However, he said discussion of the situation led to the realization that, “We could work together and create positive change for workers in El Salvador and elsewhere.”
According to UNITE, most prospective Just Garments workers are members of the Sindicato de Trabajadores de la Industria Textile, a local labor union.
This summer, UNITE members are to vote on a merger with the Hotel Employees & Restaurant Employees International Union, to form UNITE HERE.
— Scott Malone