Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Teamsters Take On A New Brand

CHARLOTTE, NC - NOVEMBER 24:  Elton Brand #42 ...Image by Getty Images via Daylife

Teamsters Union Members Protest 76ers Game

Teamsters in Philadelphia have selected a rather unusual target for a labor protest. If you look carefully around Philadelphia, you may see a group of Teamsters carrying picket signs saying "Boycott Elton Brand and his tennis shoes!"

What makes this somewhat unique is that Brand is a fellow union brother, represented by the NBA Players Association which conducts all out collective bargaining for all National Basketball League players.

I am sure the Teamsters would say they are not attacking Brand the card carrying union member, but rather Elton Brand and his...ummm...personal brand.

As a player doing endorsements, Brand recently released a new tennis shoe with Converse. This is where the Teamsters come into play.

On Sunday, Philadelphia Teamsters protested at the Philadelphia 76ers game against the L.A. Clippers, urging fans to tell Elton Brand to speak out about serious workers rights violations involved in Brand's new shoe line, "EB1".

The EB1 line of sneakers is a collaboration between the 76ers power forward Elton Brand, Nike's Converse division and JC Penney. The shoes are transported to JC Penney by Oak Harbor Freight Lines of Auburn, Washington.

On Monday September 22, 600 Oak Harbor Freight Lines drivers, warehouse and office workers walked off the job to protest violations of American labor laws. Oak Harbor workers have now been on strike for more than 8 weeks.

A report by the International Labor Rights Forum on the situation at Oak Harbor found substantial evidence that Oak Harbor has abused workers' rights by pursuing a premeditated plan to permanently replace employees by employing a labor contractor that discriminates against African American and women workers it recruits to replace strikers, and by inflicting significant hardship on retired employees by terminating their health insurance payments.

In response, a variety of activist organizations including United Students Against Sweatshops, Sweatfree Communities, No Sweat and Jobs with Justice, along with faith-based groups and global union federations, have called on JC Penney to respect workers' rights.

According to news reports, Brand said his new collaboration would allow kids to have a shoe that looks "cool" when they wear it to school.

Rod Palmquist, a national organizer with United Students Against Sweatshops, said, "Elton Brand should speak out as a role model for kids about this horrible situation. Elton shouldn't allow his name to be used when hardworking people are being exploited, like the truck drivers at Oak Harbor."

Teamsters, students and community organizations will continue educating the public as the holiday season approaches.

Founded in 1903, the International Brotherhood of Teamsters represents more than 1.4 million hardworking men and women in the United States, Canada and Puerto Rico.

SOURCE International Brotherhood of Teamsters

Good luck with sorting this out.

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