February 1, 2004 | Share
Major League baseballs sewn by sweatshop workers in Costa Rica, Denied their rights & paid just 25 cents for each ball they make
Rawlings of Costa Rica, S.A.
Barrio Las Americas
Canton of Turrialba
- Phone: (506) 556 44-55
- Fax: (506) 556 07-40
- Email: Baseball@racal.co.cr
- General Manager: Douglas Richard Kralik
- Quality Control Manager: Diane Kralik
- Chief of Human Resources: Shirly Cooney Leiua
- Export Manager: Jose Manuel Valerin Vargas
The Rawlings plant, located behind the Stadium Rafael Angel Camacho in the city of Turrialba, is about an hour and forty-minute drive east of the capital San Jose. It is a rural area, surrounded by coffee plantations. Agriculture accounts for 70 percent of the area's economy, and coffee is the principal crop. When the bottom fell out of world coffee prices a few years ago, it had a devastating effect in Turrialba and unemp loyment among the coffee workers soared. Rawlings used this to its advantage. With so mu ch unemp loyment it could hire more temporary workers, firing and rehiring them every three months. This new contingency work force has no legal rights, and their wages do not have to be increased.
There is a lot of fear in the factory, and the workers are afraid of even being seen talking with outsiders. It's a small town in a rural area. It's easy to be seen. No one wants to lose their job — especially as this was one of the very few factories in town.
However, several brave Rawlings workers did agree to speak out about factory conditions, as long as their identities were kept hidden. They are certain that if Rawlings management found out who they were, they would be fired that very same day. No one at the Rawlings company would agree to an interview — not the plant manager, the production chief, or the head of human resources.
In search of low wages, in 1969 Rawlings closed its plant in Puerto Rico and shifted production to Haiti. Soon, 1,000 Haitian women were sewing over 100,000 baseballs a week at the Rawlings plant, being paid just nine cents for each ball they sewed.
It was not until after the fall of Jean-Claude Duvalier's dictatorship in 1986 that Rawlings decided to open a plant in Costa Rica in 1987. The plant, called Figgie Costa Rica, operated with just 15 workers. These were warehouse and supply workers, since all the actual production of sewing the balls was farmed out as homework.
For 21 years Rawlings felt quite comfortable producing baseballs in Haiti under the father and son Duvalier dictatorship, and the military regimes which followed. However, when it became clear that military rule was coming to an end, and that Jean-Bertrand Aristide was certain to win the democratic presidential election on December 16, 1990 by a landslide, Rawlings quickly shut its Haitian plant on November 30, 1990. All remaining work was shifted to Costa Rica. By 1994, Rawlings had 400 workers at its Costa Rican plant and by 1998 there were 800 workers.
Rawlings representatives said they were pulling out of Haiti "because we have a responsibility to Major League Baseball and our other baseball customers."
More to the point, there was a growing concern among the maquila factory owners that under a democratically elected government in Haiti, factory workers would want to exercise their legal right to organize, and that there would be calls for an increase in the minimu m wage, which was just 22 cents an hour at the time.
In Haiti, as in Costa Rica, Rawlings prefers to operate in secrecy. In 1988, Rawlings even refused entry to its Haitian plant to a group of Figgie International—Rawlings' parent comp any—shareholders. On September 19, 1989, in the Journal of Commerce, Larry Luxer commented: "Rawlings appears suspicious of the media and refused to allow The Journal of Commerce to enter the plant and photograph the workers." Rawlings was no doubt afraid of attracting any such further coverage as appeared in the Toronto Star on April 29, 1998, where Bruce McLeod wrote that while company spokespeople tell us "that Rawlings products are 'nothing but the best,' Don't believe them. Every Major League baseball, however well made, is a symbol of third world exploitation, which is nothing but the worst."
Today, the Rawlings plant in Turrialba produces not only baseballs, but also uniforms and other garments, as well as sporting goods. We can only make estimates based on our communications with the workers since management refused to speak, but there could now be as many as 1,450 workers at the Rawlings plant — 850 people in the baseball department , and another 600 workers in the textile department.
Rawlings operates under the Free Trade Zone regime, meaning it pays no corporate, province, city or even sales taxes, and is 100 percent exempt from all import and export taxes.
No doubt the figure is far higher today, but even as of August 23, 1998, Costa Rica's La Nacion Sunday Review newspaper reported that the Rawlings plant produced two and a half million baseballs a year, of which half — or one and a quarter million balls — went to the Major League teams in the U.S. The other half were sold commercially.
Rawlings is the official baseball not only for the Major Leagues, but also for Minor League baseball and the NCAA college World Series. More than half of all Major League players use Rawlings gloves. Rawlings also supplies baseball equipment and uniforms in Japan.
Sewing Major League Baseballs is Tough Work — an Estimated 80 percent of the workers are injured
A worker must sew a minimum of 156 baseballs a week, approximately 4 per hour, and one every 15 minutes.
On average, the worker will be paid just 28 cents per completed ball.
108 stitches are required per ball, or one every 8.3 seconds, 432 an hour, and 4,536 stitches in a 10.5 hour shift.
Factory temperatures reach 97 degrees Fahrenheit, and the workers are sweating constantly.
For 10 hours a day, the worker's body is in an awkward position bent over her press, repeating the same strenuous stitching motion, pulling her arms up and out, hour after hour, day after day.
Factory workers estimate that 80 percent of the baseball sewers are injured, suffering some form of repetitive motion disorder — to their back, shoulders, wrists, hands, and especially their vision due to the constant need to focus and concentrate.
The Rawlings Company makes no attempt to prevent these repetitive stress injuries, not even implementing the simplest of measures, such as requiring periodic breaks, and structuring exercises, wh ich would cost the company nothing.
Further, Rawlings refuses to consider these repetitive stress disorders as work related, classifying them instead as personal injuries for which the company is not responsible. In fact, if an injured sewer requests a day off to consult with a doctor, Rawlings docks her pay.
Workers injured badly enough so that they cannot consistently reach their minimum quota of producing 156 baseballs a week are fired. They receive some small severance pay, but are left incapacitated, some unable to do any physical work.
Few workers sewing baseballs for the Major League last more than two or three years.
Sewers jab themselves with their needles, often under their nails. The company provides safety equipment, but the leather is stiff and uncomfortable, causing the workers to sweat even more, which results in the needle slipping. Forced to meet their high production goals, the workers instead wrap their fingers in masking tape. Rawlings does not object to this, however if a worker jabs and injures herself, it is simply her problem. Rawlings will accept no responsibility, since she was not wearing the protective gear — despite the fact that she could not reach the mandatory quota if she had been wearing it. Either way, she stands to lose.
The bathrooms are locked and a worker needs to get permission to use the toilets, which is limited to one or two visits, or at the most three a day.
Talking during working hours is prohibited.
Company rules strictly prohibit workers from assisting each other either in the sewing or repair of the baseballs.
Production reports are kept on each worker, which the accounting department uses to measure their productivity and efficiency, monitoring the workers constantly. Sewers making too many errors will be "replaced."
Workers who produce their quota of 156 baseballs two weeks in a row will receive a bonus of $7.42 — or a little more than two cents per ball. Supervisors also receive incentives when their team of sewers reaches their production goal.
There is constant tension and pressure to reach the comp any's goals.
At 7:15 a.m. each Monday the workers mu st attend a meeting where their supervisor gives them a pep-talk, encouraging them to work with greater speed and efficiency, and pointing out the most common errors made the week before.
New workers in training at the factory's "little school" are not paid. Instead, Rawlings reimburses them only for their bus fare. They will remain in school until they can consistently produce 7 to 10 flawless balls.
Rawlings policy on absences:
Two paid days for marriage;
Three paid days for the death of one's child, spouse, or parents;
One paid day for the father on the birth of his child.
All other absences are unpaid. Still, a worker needing a day off must submit a written request at least three days in advance. Permission is rarely given to those who are not consistently reaching their production goals.
Rawlings has an odd policy, considering that their workweek is Monday through Friday, of requiring workers to seek permission to be "absent" on Saturday, for example, if they want to take an exam or go on a family outing. Management invariably denies permission and instead instructs the worker to stand by and be ready to work, just in case a shipment either arrives or must go out. One worker going to school at night had to pray that a shipment did not come in on Saturday so he could take his Biology exam. Rawlings had refused to give him permission to be "absent" on his day off.
Sexual harassment: at least one worker we spoke with said some male supervisors showed a certain favoritism toward the younger women—e.g. overlooking any defects on the balls they had sewn — if they would "date" him outside the factory.
Three-month contracts without rights: Few workers at the Rawlings plant have any sense of security, knowing they can be fired very easily at any moment. Everyone knows that Rawlings "keeps a whole mountain" of applications on hand for just that reason. However, it now appears to be getting even worse, as Rawlings is increasingly hiring workers without contracts, employing them for less than three months, firing and rehiring them. This way the workers have no legal protections and no rights to any benefits, since under Costa Rican law these rights only apply after a person has worked for more than three months. Rawlings is creating the ultimate contingency workforce.
At the Rawlings plant, the workers were very clear: If they ever attempted to organize a union, they would be illegally fired on the spot. And if they were ever somehow successful, Rawlings would shut down the plant and move it to a place like China.
A Professional Baseball Worker Speaks Out
A major league player? No. This is a worker at the Rawlings plant in Costa Rica who sews the baseballs the Major League players use. We cannot mention his or her name, nor those of any of the other baseball workers quoted here, since the Rawlings comp any would — in reprisal — immediately fire all of them. They sew over 1.25 million balls a year for the major leagues.
Fifteen Minutes and 25 Cents Per Ball
6:00 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. — 11 ½ -hour shift.
Paid $1.00 an hour, sewing 30 balls a day, four each hour, one every 15 minutes— paid 25 cents per ball.
The work is draining and the constant movement leads to serious injuries — back, shoulders, wrist, and vision. Often one stabs oneself with the needle, mostly underneath the nails.
Ninety-three to ninety-seven degree temperatures.
Few last longer than three or four years. The atmosphere is very tense — they can "replace" you at any moment.
The American bosses, the ones with the most power, always treat the workers very roughly.
Bathrooms are locked.
Speaking is prohibited.
There is no right to organize: "there exists too much exploitation — especially in terms of the wages of the people that work."
Worker 'A' is an experienced sewer
Is it difficult or tiring to make baseballs?
The work is draining because there are practically 10 hours daily that one has to be in the factory and the work requires the constant movement of the arms and the lower back. On finishing a job that one is asked to do, of a certain amount, you can't rest — one has to be active all day long and as a result it is draining.
Do you believe that people can burn out after a few years being here, in this?
Many people, let us say, suffer serious injuries that do not allow them to finish their work. An example is that they experience wear on the shoulders, the spinal column, on the lower back, and more than anything vision — vision is what gets damaged the most because you remain permanently concentrated on a specific place. So, one doesn't look to the sides or anything.
How long is the average amount of time a worker stays at the factory?
In general, I see that people last 2 or 3 years, more or less, and then they "retire."
Is there a risk of stabbing oneself with the needles?
The risk exists, but measures are taken like using a type of leather as protection — that more than anything for . . . the needles themselves do not have a point, though they are a little thick, but the force that is utilized to pass the needle through a hole — always one stabs oneself, mostly underneath the nails, which is the softest part of the skin, so it penetrates.
Do you always use that material for protection?
The people manage, let us say, an example me — I use what we call "masking' [masking tape] because sometimes the leather is too dry so it makes it difficult to close the hand or to handle the needles.
With respect to the atmosphere at the factory, is it tense, relaxed for you? Do you feel secure or do you feel that you could be replaced at any moment?
The atmosphere at the factory is very tough, they can replace you at any moment because hundreds of persons want to enter and work because of the difficulty that there is no work.
Is it tense?
Yes, it is tense. Let us say one endures constant pressure all day — they keep saying that you have to make such and such because it is a commitment to make 30 balls daily. First, to meet the 30-ball requirement daily one has to make more or less 4 balls per hour, which is nothing easy — that you have to make one every 15 minutes. And where a ball comes out defective they will take it away and you will not meet with those 4 balls where the material itself can be destroyed and there you will not have the time to replace it. So, the constant pressure makes the people tense, tense all day, plus they ask for quality, which is what makes it most difficult.
And the temperature?
Well, in summer time, for example from summer which was so hot, we measured the temperatures with one of my co-workers and it was 93 and 97 degrees, and in winter time, it is hot in winter time — there are fans, but a fan is cool in the morning, but by the time the temperature begins to rise, what the fan does is circulate the hot air so it just gets hotter and hotter.
Is the glue that you use for the manufacturing of baseballs toxic?
In large quantities it said that it is toxic, but they use it in small amounts — not so much because it is toxic, but because it damages the leather, it stains it. It is a yellow colored glue that with the passing of time and with the temperature it softens and stains the leather.
Can you converse with your co-workers while you work?
One says no, in the sense that it is demanded that one not speak because it supposedly affects production, although that has been proven to be a lie. But if in those moments one does it, and if a person, let us say the boss, catches you speaking he sanctions you, so one could say that speaking is prohibited, but one always does it.
What does the sanction consist of?
Let us say that if one is being too loud, that is, in a manner that one is talking too much they could send you home for a week, (they suspend you one week), if it is a little, a commentary or something like that, it could be a reprimand.
Can you go to the bathroom as often as necessary?
No, now there exist defined schedules over everything — they ask that you go to the bathroom during coffee hours and breaks, to say it like that, during free time which are the breaks and the half hour for lunch. But let us say, if it is an emergency, one has to request permission from the supervisor in order to have some facility opened.
Can you attend social security appointment when necessary?
Yes, so long as one presents the certificate that one attended and so long as you ask for permission with anticipation, I mean like three days in advance.
If you are incapacitated by illness is there some consequence on the job?
That depends on the length of the sick time. If it is a leave of months, by the time you return to work they fire you because being out does not work for them.
What is the healthcare system?
Well, at the factory there exists what we call the infirmary — it is one doctor that comes twice a week. She does not have exact days, sometimes she comes Monday, sometimes Tuesday, sometimes she comes Thursdays or comes Fridays — she comes two times a week. And so, since many cases present themselves at the factory, she takes care of them according to the gravity of the case. The sickest people go first, and the ones that can, as one would say, stand it longer, they wait.
How much time do you spend there, at the factory? What is your schedule?
The schedule is from 7:00 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., but in general, one arrives earlier in order to advance the work, to get ahead on the work, so I am in the factory from 6:00 a.m. until 5:30 p.m., that makes 11 ½ hours.
Do you have any time to rest?
No, only the hours to sleep. When one finishes the work, upon arriving at home, one could say that it is to sleep, in addition to arriving early, one leaves late — one arrives at home only to leave early the next day.
And to do social activities?
Not that either because, let us say, one leaves at 5:30 a.m., until 7:00 p.m. — nothing more than the hours to sleep.
Does the factory schedule allow you to study?
The factory schedule does not allow me to study, but because of the friendship I have with the head of human resources something is done — well, the people that have a friendship with the head of human resources — she makes some exceptions and accommodates the schedule. But over all it's according to the amount of balls, that makes it a little more flexible to be able to leave before the schedules.
Do you know, are you familiar with any information about the business? What is the approximate number of employees, of men and women?
Approximately there are like 850 people, that is only the baseball department. There could be, men and women, there might be, 70% may be men and 30% women.
What is your current wage?
The legal wage, which is 21,500 colones(US$ 53.15), something like that, gross weekly (approximately $48.37 take home).
Does the wage include incentives or production bonuses?
The factory incentive is, for more than anything, by the quantity produced, and when we do 48 hours, in the same week, we receive it.
Do you think your wage is in compliance with the rule of law or no?
Yes, it does comply with the rule of law. What they never comply with are the incentives. Let us say that they have an incentive for the people that meet a very high production goal, but that incentive has remained like that for 5 to 6 years — they have not raised it.
Do you think that the wage is just taking into account that the baseball players earn more than one million dollars a year? (The average annual salary is actually $2.57 million a year or $15,864.19 a game.)
The wage is not just, not even taking into account that they earn one million dollars. The wage is not just because we get paid 100 colones (US$ 0.25) per ball and they currently sell those balls for up to 10,000 colones (US$ 24.72) and there is the case that those balls are, in a manner of speaking, of the highest quality — the ones for collecting - and have a very high value.
Do you have any desire of organizing a union?
The truth is that unions are good, but in this factory when there is some type of progressive movement or a strike, like we say it, certain measures are taken against those persons and they do not let them organize.
How do you feel working at the factory? Do you believe that they treat you justly, with respect or no?
Let us say that there are many types and a series of different persons — some have respect for you and others do not. I feel that the people who have more power, just to say it, the Americans and the bosses, which are the ones with the most power always treat the persons very tough — let us say, they are not interested if a particular person has a problem at home or whatever. They are also not interested in the physical, so they always ask for the maximum of the person. But there are other people, like the instructor who is indeed a friend — that is the person you trust the most. He understands one a little more.
If you wanted improvements in the factory what would ask for?
If I wished for improvements . . . over everything the wage because the wage is supposedly lawful, but one might think that, perhaps, one could earn more due to the high percentage at which the ball is sold — let us say that one ball costs a lot, here Rawlings pays us too cheaply. Another improvement could be the labor environment, where there is too much pressure — and that there not be so much pressure more than anything.
Do you know the Solidarista Association?
Yes, I belong to it — the association.
Do you feel good about the association?
The association gives certain benefits, especially for those with little resources, more than anything that they make money available by making loans for food and since they deduct it from the pay it is not necessary to have money at that moment.
Do you know the amount of contribution made by the company and what is the amount that you contribute?
Actually, I think that we contribute around 5% and the company contributes 3.5%.
In your case — in the purchase of electrical equipment, credits, clinics, cafeteria purchases — who pays for those services?
Everything is paid by us because all that is consumed within the plant is either deducted or paid for in cash — the comp any does not cover any of those costs.
The items that you can get, including credits, are they cheaper on the market or no?
No, they are more expensive.
By how much?
I have heard that it's an increase of 10%, something like that.
Any final comments?
Well, for the interview, this is about exploitationmore than anything. My commentary is that there exists too much exploitation — especially in terms of the wages of the people that work . Because what I most complain about is that the people that do the work of least difficulty obtain wages that are too high. I will put as an example, like a chief of a factory whose job is to supervise the other supervisors, those people, as one says in vulgar terms, walk from here to there, from here to there — they rob the wage and have a wage that is way too high. And the operators, who are the ones that create or have the raw materials or the principal product of this factory are the ones that are discriminated against because they are paid miserably in terms of the earnings that they will obtain — and what is not just is that for one ball, one gets paid 100 colones (US$ 0.25) and that they are going to sell that ball to another person for 10,000 (US$ 24.72).
Another injured sewer . . . out for more than a season — actually for good.
"What got me screwed up were my tendons, that is to say they swelled up, my tendons swelled up. It was from sewing — since it is all day long, right there."
Tell me something, when you made balls, was it tiring for you, that is to say the movements in making the balls?
Oh yes, that is certain, it was tiring because of the stretching and tugging of the thread — tugging all day long, practically from 7:00 a.m., well, now until 5:40 p.m. you work.
Well then, do you feel like you burned out after a certain amount of years making balls?
Yes, well, before, just to say it like this, when I began in the first three months, that is to say one exceeded production, that is to say one gave good quality and quantity. After a while one gets to a level that one does not pass from there — one maintains the minimum, just to say it like this, just enough so that you do not get fired. If one does less than the minimum and it is too continuous, then they harass you, they harass you until they fire you.
When you made balls, was there the risk of stabbing fingers with the needles, and how often, that is to say daily?
No, that depends on practice, that is to say it was all of the time at the beginning, yet later on gets used to it and one does not stab oneself so much.
Any other risks that you had during the time you made the balls, back pain?
Yes, for sitting, it is just that it also depends on the caballito [grip to hold the ball in place, controlled by foot peddle], as they call them, that is to say if you are on an uncomfortable caballito one works bad and always has pains.
What was the atmosphere like in the factory?
It was tense. There, all day is tense, m ore in stitching because one does not have one boss, that is to say you have a group supervisor, you have a plant boss, of those, if you come out badly in quality you have the quality boss, understand? This is to say m any quality controls.
And did you feel like you could be easily replaced? Could you be easily replaced?
In stitching yes because there new people enter with drive and for one, already old, it is difficult. Perhaps one no longer gives the same quantity that they want, from that side yes.
Could you go to the bathroom as often as necessary?
In stitching no, in stitching no because there they lock the bathrooms. If you get up, you have to go say that you are going to the bathroom and if it is closed you cannot go and have to hold it, to say it like this, so they can get you keys or something like that, that is to say in stitching it is more, more annoying.
Have you worked at sewing balls some time?
Yes, I worked there in sewing, making the balls, exactly, and"worked like a donkey—it really affects the back, arms, shoulders, neck, and wrists.
Did you have some injury during the time you worked with balls?
It just so happens that I have a problem in a shoulder that if I make some movement, let us say, to say it like this, when combing, I move it backwards [and] my shoulder cracks. It is a debility that is left there.
The amazing thing is that the Major League players have such power, that if even one of them spoke out, factory conditions and respect for worker rights at the Rawlings plant in Costa Rica could be cleaned up overnight.
This is even more true of the Major League baseball owners, whose teams are collectively worth more than $8.9 billion. The New York Yankees are valued at $849 million, and the Mets are worth $498 million. Imagine the impact if Yankees owner George Steinbrenner and Mets owner Fred Wilpon called for reforms, fair wages, and respect for basic worker rights at the Rawlings plant!
However, the sad reality is — and this is hard to believe- that Major League Baseball properties do not have any "worker rights guidelines ," and their licensing agreements have no "requirements or guidelines that address production standards, domestic versus foreign production, and labor standards at production facilities." (April 25, 2002 letter by Robert Manfred, Jr. Executive Vice President of Major League Baseball.)
This is wrong and must be changed.
On the other hand, when it comes to protecting its copyrights, products, and royalties, Major League Baseball leaves nothing to chance, and is aggressive and thorough. In 1992 Major League Baseball helped found "one of the most visible organizations" devoted to protecting vendors, trademark holders, retail business" called Caps — the Coalition to Advance the Protection of Sports Logos. The coalition is made up of Major League Baseball Properties, National Basketball Association Properties, National Football League Properties, National Hockey League Enterprises, and the Collegiate Licensing Company. "In 2001, Caps participated in 136 collective enforcement actions in 12 states w hich lead to 531 arrests andseizures of more than 250,000 items of product." Not only that, but "lobbying by Caps" and others "helped put the felony counterfeiting penalties on the books in 30 states; prior to 1992, there was not a single felony anti-counterfeiting law in effect" (Sporting Goods Business, June 2002).
It's amazing what can be accomplished when the Major League owners put their mind to something. Imagine what a difference it would m ake to the lives of workers all over the world if the team owners devoted even one-tenth of this energy to dem anding respect for and adherence to internationally recognized worker rights standards. If the will was there, it could be done.
Players' Strike Fund Based on Sweatshop Labor?
When you purchase a baseball cap or jersey, or any other Major League Baseball product, and it has a team name on it, the royalties go to the owners. On the other hand, when you purchase a jersey or any other product which has a player's name on it, then the royalties go to the Players Association, which uses the money to support its strike fund. When the strike fund is full, any left over royalty monies are distributed among the players.
It would be very disturbing if the Major League Baseball Players Association were using royalties from sweatshop goods — made by workers stripped of their rights — to pay for their strike fund.
For example, if we purchase "Jeter" or "Giambi" Yankee Kid's baseball caps, or a "Piazza" Mets cap made in China, and retailing for $18.00, how do we know that it was not made by workers forced to work 13 to 16 hours a day, seven days a week, for wages as low as 16 cents an hour? These workers have no health insurance. Many workers receive just 12 days off a year.
In China, workers have no freedom of association or the right to organize. Workers attempting to organize an independent union will be fired, and perhaps imprisoned.
The Players Association should not be benefiting from sweatshop labor. Quite the opposite. Professional athletes have some of the most powerful voices in the world, and the players should use that prominence and power to end child labor and sweatshop abuses.
Yankee Team shirts, retailing for $80, along with those for the Phillies, the Angels, Sox, Indians, and Cubs are made in Vietnam, where it would not be uncommon for young women to be forced to work 14 ½ hours a day, seven days a week for wages as low as nine to fifteen cents an hour.
There is no such thing as overtime pay. You earn the same $30 to $40 a month whether you work 48 or 60 or 80 hours a week. There is no health insurance. There is no right to organize independent unions.
Does Major League Baseball really need to exploit workers in Vietnam who earn as little as 9 cents an hour, $1.17 a day, and $6.92 a week?
This is why the owners and Players Association must immediately adopt strict worker rights standards as a condition of all sourcing and licensing agreements.
Sewing Professional Baseballs The Production Process
1) Rolling Process
The center of the ball is a sphere of cork or heavy rubber, referred to as the "pill" or "nucleus." The pill is passed through a tank of resistant glue and then rolled in a special machine which wraps the sphere with strings of heavy rubber. The process requires constant monitoring, measuring for weight and size, since the finished ball, with the leather cover, must weigh precisely five ounces and measure 9 inches in circumference.
2) Stamping Process
Bundles of leather are shipped from the U.S. Each piece of leather, which is white and soft — referred to as "soft cheese" in the factory — is carefully inspected, and sorted according to quality. The best leather, referred to as K1, which has no stains or rough spots, goes to the production for the Major Leagues. K2 quality has slight stains or black spots, which are more likely if the leather is taken from the edge of the skin, while K3 leather has visible scars or lines in it. K2 and K3 grades are used for commercial production. K4, the lowest quality, may be shipped to production facilities in China.
There are eight stamping machines with one operator each, which then mold the leather into the special forms required for the covers. Two similar pieces (resembling the figure 8 with a wide center), matched for quality, are needed for each cover. Holes are punctured around the edges of each piece, where the sewing needles will be passed through. The covers are wrapped in cloth, boxed and passed to the moistening department.
3) Moistening Process
The moistening process takes about an hour. Here, the leather is softened — so it is easier to handle while sewing — through being humidified with a water-based adhesive.
4) The Sewing Process
There are at least 300 workers in assembly lines at the Rawlings plant, who actually sew the baseballs. Each supervisor oversees a group of 24 workers.
The supervisors distribute the matched pieces of covers to their workers. The covers are marked with each group's code and with the number of the stamping machine which molded the leather.
The ball is placed and held secure in a press, which in the factory is called the 'little horse'. The operator then places the two covers crosswise to cover the ball without overlap, so that the sides of the two pieces of leather are precisely matched. Employing two needles simultaneously with red thread, it takes 108 stitches to sew the cover on the ball. The size of the stitch, and the pressure applied must be perfectly uniform. The stitches are done in the form of a 'V', with the worker pulling her arms up and outward. The sewing is begun on the left side so that the following stitches cover and hide the thread. Every one of the 108 stitches must be aligned, tight, and identical, without revealing where the work began. The borders of the cover must be pushed inside so the seam is smooth. There can be no needle scratches or marks, no smudge marks from the press or the pliers that are used to pull the covers taut, and no excess glue.
The supervisor stamps each finished ball with invisible ink — so any errors found in quality control can be traced back to a particular operator. Sewing a baseball is tough work. A journalist from La Nacion Sunday Review , Ivannia Verela, who toured the plant in 1998, was moved to write, "The process is not easy and it requires a lot of patience to bear, for the long hours, of mechanical labor that is exhausting even to watch at a distance ."
5) Drying Process
First the ball is wrung dry in a machine, which spins the ball. Afterward, the ball is placed in a special compartment with heated tiles for 24 hours.
6) Cleaning process
Workers use thinners to take off any excess glue or wax.
7) Quality Control
Here the balls are weighed (they must weigh exactly five ounces) and measured (they must be precisely 9 inches in circumference). Next the stitching is reviewed. If there are any defects in the sewing or smudges on the ball, it is returned to the person who made it for repair.
8) Receiving the official seal
Once the ball passes Quality control, it is stamped with the official seal, for example:
Balls going to the National League are stamped with black ink, while those for the American League are stamped with blue ink.
If the stamp is placed off center, it means that due to some small defect the ball is not good enough for the Major Leagues and will rather be sold commercially.
Each ball is packed in 'silk' paper and placed in an individual box. Performance balls are packed 24 dozen per carton.
Mandatory overtime: regular shift is 10 2/3 hours, from 7:00 a.m. to 5:40 p.m., five days a week.
Some 18 ½ hour all night shifts from 7:00 a.m. to 1:30 a.m., or 2:00 a.m. the following day.
Some sewers arrive at work an hour earlier, at 6:00 a.m., in order to reach their production goal.
The regular shift at the Rawlings plant is from 7:00 a.m. to 5:40 p.m., Monday through Thursday, and from 7:00 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. on Friday. However, it is not uncommon on Fridays to be forced to work until 5:40 p.m. There are three breaks during the day, a half hour for lunch and two 15-minute breaks, one in the morning and the other in the afternoon.
Under the schedule, the workers are at the plant approximately 51 to 53 hours per week. Also, at least some workers sewing the Major League baseballs try to arrive an hour earlier, at 6:00 a.m., so they can get a jump start in reaching their daily production goals of 31 to 36 balls a day. In this case they would be working an 11 2/3-hour daily shift, from 6:00 a.m. to 5:40 p.m.
When orders have to be shipped, overtime work is mandatory. In the warehouse department, there are whole weeks when the shift stretches 15 hours each day, from 7:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m . Sometimes it is just half the department and not all the workers. Under this schedule the workers could be at the factory up to 75 hours a week.
In extreme cases, when orders had to go out, there are mandatory 18 ½ to 19-hour all-night shifts, stretching from 7:00 a.m. to 1:30 or 2:00 a.m. the following day. Even in these cases, when the workers get out at 2:00 a.m., they must be back at work that same morning at 7:00 a.m. sharp. In the garment department it is much the same, and it is not uncommon to be forced to work 13½ to 15 hours a day, from 7:00 a.m. to 8:30, 9:30, or 10:00 p.m.
By law (Labor Code articles 135 and 136), the regular workweek in Costa Rica cannot exceed eight hours a day, and 48 hours a week. Under certain circumstances, day shifts of 10 hours are permitted. Also under Costa Rican Law (article 137), break times are to be considered as working time (i.e. when an employee remains under the orders of the management and cannot leave the factory). At a minimum, the company is responsible to pay for at least one half-hour break each shift. Since the workers are at the factory 51 1/6 to 53 1/3 hours a week, this means that at a minimum — if the company pays for just one 30 minute break each day — the workers are putting in 40 minutes of overtime each week. If the company is required to pay for lunch and the two 15-minute breaks — which appears likely — then the workers are actually putting in 3.08 hours of overtime for which they are not being properly paid.
Baseball workers earn $1.01 to $1.55 an hour.
The average take-home wage is $1.12 an hour, which is only one cent above the legal floor or base wage in Costa Rica.
(Note: There are 404.55 colones to one U.S. dollar)
Workers sewing baseballs destined for the Major Leagues earn a take-home wage of $1.01 to $1.55 an hour, depending upon the number of balls they complete in a week. The average take home wage for these baseball workers is just $1.12 an hour. New workers, for the first several months could earn as little as 67 cents an hour, or $32.13 a week.
$ 1.11 an hour
$ 1.01 an hour
$ 8.88 a day (8 hours)
$ 8.08 a day
$ 53.15 a week (48 hours)
$ 48.37 a week
$ 230.32 a month
$ 209.60 a month
$ 2,763.80 a year
$ 2,515.24 a year
Average wage: 24,000 colones, $59.33)
$ 1.24 an hour
$ 1.12 an hour
$ 9.89 a day (8 hours)
$ 8.96 a day (8 hours)
$ 59.33 a week (48 hours)
$ 53.99 a week
$ 257.10 a month
$ 233.96 a month
$ 3,085.16 a year
$ 2,807.48 a year
The Highest Wage
(30,000 colones gross wage plus 3,000 colones production incentive,
or $74.17 a week, plus $7.42 incentive. Very few workers ever reach this wage.)
$ 1.70 an hour
$ 1.55 an hour
$ 13.60 a day (8 hours)
$ 12.40 a day
$ 81.57 a week (48 hours)
$ 74.23 a week
$ 353.47 a month
$ 321.66 a month
$ 4,241.64 a year
$ 3,859.96 a year
The production incentive for reaching the goal of 180 baseballs per week is 3,000 colones, or $7.42. If a worker reaches the minimum quota of 156 balls two weeks in a row, she may also receive a 3,000-colones bonus.
New workers in the pressing department earn a gross wage of just $44.49 a week, or 93 cents an hour. Warehouse workers earn $1.01 to $1.07 an hour.
(for a sewer" 3,595 colones per day, or $8.89 gross wage before deductions)
$1.11 an hour
$8.89 a day (8 hours)
$53.28 a week (48 hours)
$230.88 a month
$2,770.56 a year
|Legal minimum deductions in Costa Rica Equal 9 Percent of Gross Wage
Paid According to Production,
Professional Baseball Workers Earn Just 25 to 34
Cents for Each Major League Ball They Sew.
The baseball workers are paid according to a quota system. To earn a take-home wage of $1.01 an hour, the worker must complete a minimum of 156 baseballs a week.
In effect, the worker must sew four balls every hour, or one every 15 minutes. At $1.01 per hour, the worker is, of course, earning 25 cents for each professional league baseball she sews.
As we have seen, 108 stitches are required to sew each ball, which comes to one stitch every 8.3 seconds. This goes on hour after hour, for a total of 4,173 stitches each day. The work is strenuous, all day sitting in an awkward position, while constantly pulling your arms up and outward stitch after stitch. And each stitch must be 100 percent alike. The concentration and pressure are exhausting. Invariably small errors or defects are found in some of the balls, which are returned to the sewer who must immediately repair the defects. This adds to the amount of work, since it is common to have 10 to 12 balls a week returned for further work.
Shipping Cost is Just Four Cents Per Ball
The National Labor Committee estimates that international shipping costs per baseball amount to approximately four cents. This four cents includes shipping the raw materials to Costa Rica and the return trip of the completed baseballs to Miami. This is based on one 40—foot container holding 108,000 baseballs with a round trip cost of approximately $4,530.
Someone earning the average take-home wage of $1.12 an hour would still earn just 28 cents for every Major League baseball she sewed.
A small number of people who are the very fastest workers in the factory can produce 180 balls each week, earning a take-home wage of $1.55 an hour, including production incentives. In this case, the worker would be averaging at least 4.5 balls an hour, meaning that the highest wage in the factory would still just come to 34 cents per ball.
Rawlings baseballs retail for $16.99 at the New York Yankee's store in New York City. This means that the workers' wages to sew the baseballs in Costa Rica amount to just 1.5 to 2 percent of the ball's retail price. [$0.25 ÷ $16.99 = 0.01471; $0.34 ÷ $16.99 = 0.02] On average, the workers' wages would amount to just 1.6 percent of the baseball's retail price. [$0.28 ÷ $16.99 = 0.01648]
So, if Rawlings would double the workers' wages so they could live with a modicum of decency, it would add just 28 cents to the direct cost to sew the professional baseball. Under this scenario of decency, the direct cost to sew the ball would now be 56 cents, or just over three percent of the ball's retail price [$0.56 ÷ $16.99 = 0.03296]. It would be quite possible to do this without bankrupting Major League Baseball, or the Rawlings Company.
The legal minimum wage in Costa Rica is $1.11 an hour. Like in the United States and elsewhere, this minimum wage is meant as an absolute floor beneath which a company cannot go. It is not meant as an average, or anywhere near a living wage.
What is so disturbing is that the average take-home wage of a Rawlings worker sewing Major League baseballs is just one cent an hour above the floor or minimum wage in Costa Rica. This would be analogous to a U.S. wage of $5.16 an hour [U.S. minimum wage is $5.15 an hour], or $10,732.80 a year. The average size family in the town of Turrialba — where the Rawlings plant is located — is 4.1 members. Can you imagine what it would be like raising a family in the U.S. on $10,732.80 a year? This is essentially what the Major League owners are asking their Costa Rican workers to do. It is unjust.
This is why the number one complaint at the Rawlings baseball factory is the low wages. The workers feel cheated. As one worker put it: "We kill ourselves for nothing and they do not pay us very well." Another worker explained, "Work at the factory is very tough"it is a lot of sacrifice, and poorly paid"" "The wage is not just," said another, "because we get paid 100 colones (25 cents) per ball and they currently sell those balls for up to 10,000 colones ($24.72)."
The average professional baseball worker at the Rawlings plant in Costa Rica, paid just 28 cents for each ball they sew, would have to sew 56,658 balls—which would take nearly seven years—to earn what the average Major League player does in a single game, which is $15,864.19. A Rawlings worker would have to sew 60,357,143 balls to earn what Sammy Sosa does in a year.
In just two shipments in June of 2003, the Rawlings plant in Costa Rica shipped $312,606 worth of baseballs and garments to the U.S.
What The Major League Baseball Owners
Do Not Want You To Hear
More Rawlings Workers Dare To Speak Out
- Forced overtime, some 19-hour shifts stretching from 7:00 a.m. to 2:00 a.m. the following day;
- $1.00 an hour wages;
- Thinners splash into eyes, hands burned, burned with silk screening iron;
- Many workers kept as temps with no legal rights, fired and rehired every three months;
- Bathrooms locked" workers can go once, twice, or at the most, three times a day;
- Extreme heat" "sweating a lot all day;"
- Speaking prohibited;
- Tense atmosphere" pressured a lot to work faster, fired very easily;
- For making a mistake you can be suspended without pay for five days;
- Even on Saturdays, which are not part of the regular workweek, workers must be on standbyand keep their schedules clear just in case a shipment comes in. The bosses "think they are who they are"the ones that control."
- Advancement almost impossible;
- "Sometimes one feels like in jail." "They would like for you to be a slave."
- "We kill ourselves for nothing and they do not pay us very well."
- Workers have no voice;
- To organize is not permitted - they would close the plant and fire everyone.
Worker "B" is an operator in the silk screening department
"Many operators, including the seamstresses that stitch baseballs, have arms that are dislocated, with tears""
"I am a silk screener. It is a job where one does not sit down. It is a job where you enter at 7:00a.m., turn on your machine, ask for your supplies—the paints, the fabrics, the orders—and work until 5:30 p.m., at times it extends into 8:30 to 9:30 to 10:00 p.m., on your feet all day at work."
"My hands are often burned and at times thinner splashes into my eyes-and at times I burn myself with the iron. Today I burned myself with the silk screening iron-pretty normal."
"Lately they are very strict, it seems to me that they are letting workers stay less than three months and they fire them—and they hire new people, it seems to me that that is what is happening."
""the person that is supervising pressures the workers too much""
""it is very hot because there are ovens—there are no fans—and sometimes they do not give permission to go out and get water."
""it is very difficult for a worker to receive any attention in such a large place, in a company so big, perhaps they will listen, but more likely, at times, it could be a problem for oneself because there is no liberty of expression here."
"" [permission to use the bathroom] always depends on the supervisor's mood, but say, four or five times, no. Perhaps one or two times a day, or three at most""
"Rawlings is a place where there is a lot of money. And, well, basically they are the ones in charge. Sure, workers have a "voice and a vote," but who knows in what country.
"To work at the factory is very tough. It is something very tough, it is a lot of sacrifice and poorly paid—poorly paid economically and from a human point of view as well. Socially, the bosses"are people who do not know how to treat an employee. For them, they are employees" while they use them all week, it is like a machine, they are unable to understand that they get injured."
Worker "C" is a warehouse employee
"We go in at 7:00 a.m. and we leave at 5:00 p.m. or 6:00 p.m., but in heavy times, we are there at 7:00 a.m., of one day, and leave at 1:30 a.m. to 2:00 a.m. the next day and one has to go in again at 7:00 a.m.
"As they tell you, 'If you do not want to do your work, there are 20 to 25 to 30 or 50 people behind that are hoping for a wage, if you do not like the wage, well you know where you came from'.
""they fire people very easily.
"I made a mistake and they suspended me for five days without pay.
""so the temperature there is high and we really sweat a lot while we work, one gets really dehydrated.
""our bosses have instilled in us that the higher up bosses do not like that one be speaking.
"And so what happens, perhaps because of the hours they have there and I cannot go because they [the bathrooms] are locked for a certain period, so one has to be holding it"two hours open, two hours closed.
"And so this happened at work, not even two days before completing three months—upon completing three months I would acquire all the rights by law —and two days before [the three months were up and he would become a legal employee with rights] they fired me, and so it is dirty, and so they fired me" They give me a piece of garbage [as the reason] for the firing and it wasn't in two days that they call me in again, but on the same day they hire me again. And so, one signs, one signs a personnel thing, I continue to work another three months with the initial wage . . . and they do it to many people. [Kept as a temporary worker with no rights, fired and rehired every three months.]
"Well, that [forming a union] would be the magic wand, let us say it like that, but those people" You go to these people and you put in a union and fifteen days later they declare bankruptcy and on that day we arrive to work and what is there in place of that plant? It is a vacant lot, like what happened here in Guapiles, where everybody left and they came back to work the next day and the machines were not there—everything had been collected in one of those containers at dawn and there were not even newspapers on the ground, right, they took everything. Like I tell you, that would be a problem.
"I'm studying here at the regional but by chance something happened to me with a fellow student that really depresses you, it bothers you, because we had a biology exam and it was a Saturday and you do not work Saturdays so the week prior we asked for permission, since 28 of 60 it has to be eight days before for a situation like that, and they told us no, that they could not give us permission.
'But why, if we do not work on Saturdays,' we told them. 'No because some type of cargo could arrive late on Friday and it must get unloaded promptly Saturday.' In other words, if the cargo arrives you miss the exam, if the cargo does not arrive, well, I was going to take the exam. Thank god that the cargo did not arrive and" I passed the biology exam."
Worker "D" is a warehouse employee
"We do have lots of overtime hours, let us say that at times many shipments go late and we work Saturdays, sometimes Sundays, and we work a lot at night"and depending on the shipments, and depending on the demand, because there are weeks we enter at 7:00 a.m. and leave at 10:00 p.m. everyday"
"Yes, there is plenty of risk because, at least the fabric is stacked at double height, at triple height, let us say, at some 50-65 feet of height and we have to scramble to lower the fabrics, or unloading trucks and machines that come, for all of the machines, and one has to use lifts and we have to be moving them with chains and at any moment one could fall and it would fall on a leg and, yes, we have a lot of risk.
" . . . it is too true—they easily replace you."
". . . at the warehouse there are lamps that are on all day, and it fires up the heat more and the material is very packed so we do not have much ventilation."
"What I do not like is the wage. We kill ourselves for nothing and they do not pay us very well, let us say it like that."
"I would [like a union]. A union that fights for the well-being of all of the employees because in reality, there are no unions there—they are not permitted supposedly, but it is needed because unfortunately the human resource boss does not help you in anything."
Worker "E" is another warehouse employee
"" At least this week, eight containers had to arrive for unloading and they did not arrive, thank god. But one arrives tomorrow and there are some that stay and others that do not"and supposedly on Monday, since the rest arrive, which are larger, then we'll all have to stay."
"We do have overtime and they pay it at 5 ½, that is to say on the basis of the wages, that is to say one earns more or less between 400 and 420 per hour ($.99 to $1.04)."
""One does make contact [with thinner] because one has to distribute it because that is done at the warehouse—one has to pour it in gallon jugs, take it to the departments, but, that is to say, it is little—it is not like one is bathing in thinner."
"They do lock the bathrooms""
"At times it gets hot, but there are fans, but fans that trap all of the same heat inside."
""There are days that one has to stay late, one has to sacrifice a lot at times. It is too small a wage to earn [considering] what one does there. But really, if one goes ahead and tells them that, and they do not accept it—because they give themselves the luxury that they are who they are, they are the ones that control."
"It [a union] would have to be something very large because here, at this company, it is screwed up, that is to say, for me to be able to, that is to say because I go and right when I am scarcely beginning and if I join [the union] they fire me. It [the union] would have to be something that comes with weight, that already brings real consequences. Because the way it is now, this idea of making a union, well, no, we'd leave on our tails."
""sometimes one does not have time [to study] because one has to stay late, but since it is not consistent, so it is also difficult."
""it becomes difficult for me to advance, that is to say, much of it is luck—a lot of obstacles and praying to god."
Employee "F" is an office worker in the Administrative Department
"When I arrived, the production was very behind, there was a lot of work—too much work—and I worked Saturdays and worked during the weekdays until late—and we worked until 10:00 p.m. at night""
"Sometimes there is a lot of tension because they ask too much—sometimes more than the others can give""
"I would ask that they let you work in peace—that they allow you to be yourself because, there, sometimes one feels like in jail. You cannot receive one phone call, one cannot make a phone call—I cannot use my cell."
"If lunch is from 12:00 p.m. to 12:30 p.m., if I leave before 12 someone might report me to human resources. They could report me, and they suspend me. "It is just that I would go downbefore 12 p.m. from the office to punch out at 12 p.m. on the dot"They sent me a little note there, by email, that the office schedule is this, and that if it is not met they reprimand you."
"Not that either [speaking during work hours]."
""but they imprison you. They would like for you to be a slave and no, one has a family. And so, one cannot be a slave, they only want one to stay every day until 10:00 p.m. working, so no. They know that one wants to work and I want a salary, but I also have my children, my home, my husband and all."
What should be done
Major League Baseball should immediately adopt internationally recognized worker rights standards and effective enforcement mechanisms, as a core condition governing all of its product sourcing and licensing agreements.
The Major League Players Association should do the same.
The Players Association and the Major League owners should work together with Rawlings to address at least the following issues:
ASPEROLA* a highly-respected Costa Rican non-governmental organization and expert on Central American labor issues, should be asked to conduct an independent occupational health and safety review to assess current factory baseball sewing practices for potential repetitive motion hazards, and to outline whatever appropriate corrective steps should be taken. Of course, repetitive motion injuries should be treated as work related and compensated accordingly.
Bathrooms should be immediately unlocked. Workers should have free access to the bathrooms and drinking water. Also, Rawlings should address excessive heat and noise levels.
Overtime must be voluntary, and the unreasonable practice of requiring workers to seek management's permission to attend school, take an exam, or go on a family outing on Saturday —which is a day off — must be ended.
Rawlings should end the growing practice of hiring workers on a temporary basis and firing them before three months have elapsed — which means the workers never gain their legal rights or benefits — only to rehire many of them again, to repeat the same process.
Representatives of the Players Association, especially, should work with Rawlings' management to guarantee that the baseball workers are fully aware that they in fact have the legal rights to freedom of association, to organize an independent union, and to bargain collectively without fear of firings or facing any other form of reprisal. A first positive step in this direction should be to invite ASEPROLA into the factory to conduct several popular assemblies with the workers to acquaint them with their legal rights.
Of course, Rawlings must respect the workers' right to organize.
If Major League Baseball owners and the Players' Association want to regain the confidence of the American people that their products are not being made under sweatshop conditions violating basic human and worker rights standards, they should publicly disclose the names and addresses of the factories they use around the world to make the goods we buy. That would be one simple concrete step the owners and players could take to assure the American people that they have nothing to hide.
*ASEPROLA: Asociasion Servicios de Promocion Laboral (Labor Advocacy Services Association)
Rawlings forms a "Solidarista Association"
The employers present "Solidarista Associations" as a new way, as a "direct agreement" between management and workers to regulate their relations without the interference of outside, or third parties, such as unions.
There are 188 maquila, or export assembly, factories in Costa Rica, yet there is not one single union in any of these factories.
In 1992, Rawlings established a Solidarista Association at their plant. At the time, top-level managers, even including the General Manager of the factory, could be on the Board of Directors of the Association. That is no longer permitted, but the board is still chosen by management.
Solidarista Associations create the image that workers are receiving matching benefits from the company. In Costa Rica, as is the case in other Central American countries, all companies are required by law to set aside a severance fund, a "Cesantia Laboral". The fund must have on hand at least a portion of the severance pay owed the workers, should there be mass layoffs, or the plant closes. So while the workers are contributing three to six percent of their own wages to the Solidarista Association, the so-called "matching contribution" is not what it appears, since the company is drawing from this severance fund, which is really the workers' money. The company is not contributing any new money out of its pocket.
(Solidarista Association Law # 6070; Article # 18: "The monthly fee from the employer in favor of the affiliated workers will be determined by common agreement accordant to the Solidarista principles . . . The amount collected in this concept, will be considered as part of the fund for severance pay in benefit of the workers.")
Solidarista Associations do in fact help workers save money, and this is perhaps their most important function. Members also receive certain subsidies, such as a free lunch coupons at Rawlings cafeteria worth 37 cents. The Association makes soft loans easily and quickly available, and allows members to purchase goods, like TVs, at the Association's store on credit.
However, products purchased through the Association tend to cost at least 10 percent more than those available in the local stores. What Solidarista Associations do not deal with is the following:
-Production goals / piece rates / wages;
-Contracts / hiring and firing / grievances;
-Health and safety;
-Social security / social benefits / sick days / maternity issues / accidents.
In December 1988, the International Confederation of Free Trade Unions (ICFTU) placed a denunciation against the Government of Costa Rica before the International Labor Rights Organization (ILO), stating that Solidarista Associations interfere with activities which are strictly within the proper scope of unions. Solidarista Associations, which clearly are not under the control of the workers, are also violating the principles of autonomy and independence of worker organizations which are guaranteed under ILO Conventions 87 and 98.
In 1991, the ILO recommended to the Government of Costa Rica that it do more to protect the workers' fundamental right to freedom of association, especially in providing legal protection to union leaders and organizers to prevent discrimination and reprisals by management.
However, as we have seen, the Costa Rican government has not been very effective — as there is still not one single union in any of the country's 188 maquila factories.
At the Rawlings plant the workers were very clear. If they ever attempted to organize a union, they would be illegally fired on the spot. And if they were ever somehow successful, Rawlings would shut the plant down and move to a place like China.
To date, the Rawlings workers have no voice. Only Rawlings management gets to speak.
Allan H. "Bud" Selig
Major League Baseball Commissioner
245 Park Ave.
New York, NY 10167
Ph: 212 931 7800
Fax: 212 949 8636
Richard J Heckman
Chairman of the Board and CEO
4900 South Eastern Avenue
Los Angeles, CA 90040
Phone: (323) 724-2800
Fax: (323) 724-0470
Major League Baseball Players Association
12 E. 49th St., 24th Fl.
New York, NY 10017