The DSA International Committee expresses support for the 1,100 striking Honduran construction workers building the new United States embassy in Tegucigalpa, Honduras. The workers have been on strike demanding safe working conditions, job security, and fair compensation after suffering years of labor and human rights violations by US-based mega-prison contractor B.L. Harbert and by the State Department’s Bureau of Overseas Buildings Operations (OBO). Like most Honduran construction workers following twelve years of neoliberal dictatorship after the U.S.-supported 2009 coup that brutally repressed organized labor, these workers are not represented by a union; however, they have been working closely with Honduran labor movement leadership in their fight for justice. They denounce:
- Their prior illegal classification as hourly workers, through which B.L. Harbert and OBO shorted their salaries and benefits, and denied them the job security to which they had a right under Honduran law;
- The imposition of a new illegal contract which would also deny them job security, wages, and benefits guaranteed by the Honduran labor code;
- The refusal of the company to provide adequate healthcare treatment or compensation to the multiple workers who sustained major injuries including amputated fingers and spinal and other nerve damage on the job;
- The retaliatory firing on August 23rd of 19 workers, including the entire strike leadership team; and,
- The fact that, in addition to illegally firing the leadership, B.L. Harbert has responded to workers’ nonviolent protests and legitimate, very basic demands by locking them out, and denying them their contractual pay over the past two months. Additionally, the State Department has criminalized workers and militarized both the job site and current Embassy, putting workers and their families in even greater danger.
The IC calls on the State Department and Congress to pressure B.L. Harbert to pay the workers’ stolen back pay and to sign a contract in compliance with Honduran labor standards.
The IC supports the efforts of the Honduran people to rebuild and strengthen their own working-class organizations after Xiomara Castro’s historic election in November opened a path to roll back over a decade of U.S. -funded and -backed military dictatorship since the 2009 military coup. The U.S. embassy in Honduras, in order to begin to repair the profound damage inflicted on the Honduran people during and since the 2009 coup, must commit to engaging Honduras on principles of mutual respect and the strengthening, rather than weakening, of Honduran workers’ right to organize and demand fair working conditions.