Women’s rights leaders and labor leaders joined on Wednesday with Teamster workers, community members and political leaders to demand that Sunbeam stop its assault on women workers in Cleveland.
Eleanor Smeal, president of the Feminist Majority Foundation, and Karen Nussbaum, director of the AFL-CIO’s Working Women’s Department stood with Donice Wamack, Teamster Local 473 shop steward and 6-year Mr. Coffee worker to decry Sunbeam’s decision to close the local Mr. Coffee plant. The close would cause the loss of 300 jobs, 90 percent of which are held by women.
Mr. Coffee administrators praised the coffee workers productivity and efficiency but still decided to move the plant to Mexico where workers will be paid $7 a day instead of $7-8 an hour as at the Cleveland plant.
“The workers have been willing to take extremely modest wages to save these jobs. But instead, Sunbeam is moving to take advantage of exploitative sweatshop wages,” said Smeal. “This is a women’s issue both here and in Mexico. The workers who will be exploited in Mexico will be principally young, desperate women.”
Mr. Coffee by their own admission was making a profit from their Cleveland plant but it was not enough. Some 220 American companies have moved just over the border in Mexico to take advantage of sweatshop wages and conditions. The women’s groups and the unions pledged to continue the fight to save these jobs and to end sweatshops.