U.S. Labor Education in the Americas Project

aka USLEAP   |   Chicago, IL   |  www.usleap.org
This organization has not appeared on the IRS Business Master File in a number of months. It may have merged with another organization or ceased operations.

Mission

The U.S. Labor Education in the Americas Project (USLEAP) is an independent non-profit organization that supports workers who are fighting for a better life for their families and to overcome poverty in Latin America. 
We support especially those workers who are employed directly or indirectly by U.S. companies producing for the U.S. market. USLEAP believes that in a global economy, it is also in the best interests of U.S. workers that workers in other countries have the freedom to fight to improve their wages and working conditions.
USLEAP is one of the oldest anti-sweatshop groups in the U.S., having been founded in 1987 as the U.S./Guatemala Labor Education Project.  USLEAP has since expanded its work to other countries in Latin America.

Ruling year info

1995

Principal Officer

Mr. Stephen Coats

Main address

PO Box 268-290

Chicago, IL 60626

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EIN

36-3739951

NTEE code info

International Human Rights (Q70)

Alliance/Advocacy Organizations (Q01)

Civil Rights, Social Action, and Advocacy N.E.C. (R99)

IRS filing requirement

This organization is required to file an IRS Form 990 or 990-EZ.

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Programs and results

What we aim to solve

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Our programs

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

What are the organization's current programs, how do they measure success, and who do the programs serve?

Coffee Worker Justice Project

The Justice for Coffee Workers Project supports the basic rights of and economic justice for coffee workers.
 
USLEAP's primary initiative in this area has been a successful campaign to persuade Starbucks to agree to adopt and begin implementing a code of conduct for coffee growers, the first code of conduct for a major U.S. coffee company.  Starbucks first agreed to adopt a code in 1995.
In 2001, Starbucks adopted new sourcing guidelines based on an incentive system that commits Starbucks to reward "preferred suppliers" financially if they meet key "sustainability" criteria.  Starbucks prepared another set of revised guidelines in 2004, known as C.A.F.E.  USLEAP believes that the current approach of Starbucks has a number of positive aspects but falls short in other areas.
USLEAP continues to engage Starbucks, and is now pressing Starbucks to begin documenting the impact of its sourcing practices on the lives of coffee workers.

Population(s) Served

This project supports the basic rights of and economic justice for flower workers in Latin America producing for the U.S. market. 
Most flowers sold in the U.S. are grown in Colombia and Ecuador, where workers are paid poverty-level wages, work long hours before key holidays like Valentine’s Day and Mother’s Day, and whose largely female workforce is exposed to unhealthy pesticides.
Since 2005, USLEAP has focused on supporting flower workers in Colombia who are fighting to improve wages and working conditions and to gain respect by establishing unions and securing collective bargaining agreements.  USLEAP’s work has included strategic planning with flower worker unions, a campaign versus Dole Fresh Flowers (the largest exporter of flowers from Latin America to the U.S.), worker tours, delegations to Colombia, and media work.  USLEAP currently works primarily in support of Untraflores, an industry-wide industrial union in Colombia that is vigorously opposed by the Colombian flower industry, Asocoflores.
On this project, USLEAP collaborates closely with the Flower Workers Committee in Miami (the primary port of entry for flowers from Latin America), the International Labor Rights Fund, and the AFL-CIO's Solidarity Cent

Population(s) Served

This project supports the basic rights of and economic justice for banana workers in Central America, Colombia and Ecuador.  
The banana sector is the most heavily unionized private sector in Latin America.  Most unionized banana workers earn significantly greater wages and receive good benefits compared to non-union banana workers.  But increased competition in the banana industry has spurred a “race to the bottom,” leading to the loss of thousands of unionized jobs, violent responses to union organizing, and lowering of benefit and wage standards as production shifts to non-union, low-wage areas, especially in Ecuador and the south coast of Guatemala.
As part of this project, begun in 1998, USLEAP has undertaken a strategic analysis of the banana industry, initiated strategic planning meetings with the banana worker unions, campaigned against Chiquita (1998), Del Monte (1991-2001), Noboa (2002 and on-going) and Dole (on-going), and supported organizing initiatives in the region, especially in Ecuador, the largest exporter of bananas in the world.  Ecuador, along with the Pacific coast of Guatemala, is leading the "race to the bottom" in the banana industry with  some of the worst standards in the region in terms of wages, conditions, and respect for basic worker rights.
For this project, USLEAP workers closely with the Coordination of Latin American Banana Worker Unions (COLSIBA), which represents over 20,000 organized banana workers in the region, the International Union of Foodworkers (IUF), a Geneva-based global union federation, and the European Banana Action Network (EUROBAN), a coalition of 40 European non-governmental organizations, unions and others.

Population(s) Served

USLEAP campaigns for effective global trade rules to protect workers and against trade agreements (e.g. the Central American Free Trade Agreement, CAFTA) that do not protect workers abroad who organize to improve their wages and working conditions. 
This project supports workers in the region by also seeking to apply the conditions of U.S. trade programs that require improved respect for worker rights as a condition for receiving special U.S. trade benefits.  These trade programs include the Andean Trade Preferences Act and the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP). 
USLEAP periodically files petitions with the U.S. Trade Representative documenting violent intimidation of workers, illegal efforts to thwart the right to organize, and other worker rights violations.  Advocating for implementation of the worker rights conditions of U.S. trade programs has proven useful to securing some advances and specific victories, demonstrating the importance of linking trade to respect for worker rights. USLEAP believes that the use of such pressure must be exercised only with the support of workers in Latin America. Without worker support in the South, trade pressure from the U.S. citing worker rights violations abroad can appear to be or may in fact be motivated by protectionist interests.
USLEAP supports conditioning multilateral trade agreements (e.g. CAFTA) and unilateral trade programs (e.g. the Generalized System of Preferences) on respect for worker rights, using standards developed by the International Labor Organization and adequate enforcement measures. Fundamentally, the global trading system (e.g. currently governed by the World Trade Organization) must be based on fair and equal rules that protect workers as well as as consumers and the environment.
On this project, USLEAP coordinates with Latin American unions, U.S. non-governmental organizations, and U.S. trade unions.

Population(s) Served

This project focuses on the horrific level of violence against Colombian trade unionists and the near-total impunity their murderers enjoy. Colombia is the most dangerous country in the world for trade unionists, with more trade unionists killed each year in Colombia than in the rest of the world combined.  The vast majority of violence against trade unionists is in response to basic union activities. Since 1991, over 2,200 trade unionists have been assassinated in Colombia. Over 98% of these murders go unpunished.
USLEAP works to change U.S. aid and trade policy towards Colombia in an effort to end impunity and violence against Colombian trade unionists.  This work includes leading delegations to Colombia, producing and distributing analyses of trends with respect to violence and impunity in Colombia, advocacy efforts with policy makers with respect to U.S. aid and trade policy, opposition to a free trade agreement with Colombia, and producing basic educational materials, including a Power Point presentation, bulletins, and a special report on worker rights in Colombia.

 
On this project, USLEAP works with the AFL-CIO, Latin America Working Group, the U.S. Office on Colombia, Witness for Peace, and a number of U.S. trade unions.

Population(s) Served

Where we work

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Financials

U.S. Labor Education in the Americas Project
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Operations

The people, governance practices, and partners that make the organization tick.

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U.S. Labor Education in the Americas Project

Board of directors
as of 06/12/2012
SOURCE: Self-reported by organization
Board chair

Gail Lopez-Henriquez

Labor Attorney

see the USLEAP website for