Fighting for worker justice in the global economy.
More Information on Banana Workers
Unionized banana workers in Latin America can make $10 a day or more, with benefits equivalent to another $10 a day. Most unionized banana workers have access to health care, schools for their children, and housing. Most non-union banana workers make $3-$5 a day or less, with no benefits, and no voice at work.
USLEAP supports efforts by banana workers to form unions and defend past gains, working closely with the Coordination of Latin American Banana Worker Unions (COLSIBA) and the International Union of Foodworkers, the global union federation that represents agricultural workers worldwide.
The race to the bottom in the banana industry is attributed primarily to overproduction in the industry, increased competition in European markets, and consolidating supermarket chains that demand ever lower prices, prompting transnational banana companies to cut costs and reverse historic gains that have been made by banana unions in Central America and Colombia.
These forces have prompted a "race to the bottom" for worker rights, wages, benefits, and working conditions. In recent years, Del Monte, Dole and Chiquita have all cut jobs, wages and benefits, and closed plantations.
Ecuador is the largest banana exporter in the world, with virtually no banana unions. Its low wages and poor working conditions are dragging down wages and working conditions on unionized plantations elsewhere in Latin America. Therefore, raising wages and improving working conditions in Ecuador's banana industry is vital to maintaining decent wages and benefits of banana workers on unionized plantations in Central America and Colombia.
In 2004, “fair trade” certitified bananas were introduced into the U.S. market. While most agricultural products certified as Fair Trade have traditionally been produced on small farms or cooperatives, the vast majority of bananas exported to the U.S. market come from plantations. The growth of Fair Trade bananas in the U.S. market requires sourcing from plantations and therefore ensuring the basic rights of workers. In late 2011, the Fair Trade movement split, in part over certification of plantations and worker rights issues.
Rainforest Alliance Certification
In 2011, Dole and Chiquita introduced into the U.S. marker bananas certified by Rainforest Alliance. Banana unions in Latin America have critcized for many years Rainforest Alliance certification as virtually useless with respect to worker rights and working conditions. Banana unions are proposing a campaign against Rainforest Alliance certified bananas.
Information on Top Banana Companies:
- Murder and Impunity: Colombia and Guatemala
- Trade, Globalization, and the Race to the Bottom
- Flower Workers and Economic Justice
- Honduran Labor Resistance to the Coup
- Labor Rights in Mexico
- Banana Worker Justice Initiative
- Sweatshop Initiative
- Coffee Worker Justice Initiative
- Past Struggles
Check out our collaborative labor rights blog, Labor is Not a Commodity!