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AFL-CIO to Trump: Stop Trade Talks with Philippines

The AFL-CIO and CWA want to stop a trade deal over the country's crackdown on unions

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by AFL-CIO on
May 20, 2019

In a joint letter released publicly today, AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka and Communications Workers of America (CWA) President Chris Shelton urged President Trump and his administration to withhold bilateral trade negotiations with the Philippines until the government of President Rodrigo Duterte halts its “ongoing and growing repression of trade union members and activists in the country.”

As the letter describes, union leaders in the Philippines “have been imprisoned on false and frivolous charges” and “are growing increasingly fearful for their personal safety just for speaking up” (read more about the dangerous climate for trade unionists in the Philippines here). The letter to President Trump is part of a growing effort by the AFL-CIO, CWA, and allies to grow worker solidarity around the world and reject corporate efforts to pit workers against each other.

Presidents Trumka and Shelton also sent a joint letter to Andy Lee, CEO of California-based and global customer service firm Alorica, raising concerns about the “aggressive efforts by Alorica management to oppose the efforts of your employees in the Philippines to exercise their fundamental workers' rights.” As the letter to CEO Lee notes, “Especially in light of the current political climate in the Philippines, we are concerned with Alorica's efforts to use frivolous legal charges to silence and intimidate workers attempting to organize.”

The joint letter to Alorica highlights the company’s ongoing efforts to block the United Employees of Alorica (UEA) from having a voice at Alorica. In the Philippines, Alorica employs approximately 40,000 call center workers, including more than 10,000 call center workers hired after the company announced plans to scale up operations in the country in March 2017. The Alorica website highlights 17 different call center facility locations in the Philippines alone.

  • To read a copy of the new joint AFL-CIO/CWA letter to President Trump, click here
  • To read a copy of the new joint AFL-CIO/CWA letter to Alorica CEO Andy Lee, click here
  • To learn more about the dangerous climate for trade unionists in the Philippines, read this overview from the International Centre for Trade Union Rights here

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