January 12, 2001

Nicaraguan workers protest 'bad publicity' in
U.S. labor case


                  MANAGUA, Nicaragua (AP) -- Nicaraguan garment factory workers protested
                  Thursday in Managua, saying they want U.S. labor activists to stop slamming
                  their employer because the bad publicity could cause the plant to close.

                  The protest, however, came as U.S. activists in Milwaukee called off their
                  demonstrations outside stores that contracted with Chentex, a Taiwanese-owned
                  factory in Managua.

                  The activists, who accused the plant of operating under sweatshop conditions,
                  said they were informed that the factory's workers had reached a tentative
                  agreement with management to improve conditions. However, officials were not
                  available in Nicaragua to confirm that.

                  The activists, who filed a lawsuit against Chentex in a U.S. District Court in Los
                  Angeles, launched demonstrations at Kohl's stores across the United States over
                  the past few months to call attention to their cause.

                  Kohl's, based in suburban Menomonee Falls, Wisconsin, has contracted with
                  Chentex to make jeans sold under the store's private label. Chentex also makes
                  clothes for Wal-Mart Stores Inc., Kmart Corp., Target Corp. and J.C. Penney

                  The New York-based National Labor Committee said Thursday it was ending the
                  demonstrations, pending a final written settlement between Chentex and the

                  But Chentex's manager, Carlos Yiin, told Nicaraguan reporters Thursday that the
                  company is facing financial difficulties and could close its Nicaraguan plant.

                  Under the agreement, two of 11 fired union leaders at the plant are to be
                  reinstated and the others are to receive severance; at least 80 fired workers are to
                  be reinstated; the company is to drop charges against union leaders; the company
                  is to drop an anti-union lawsuit; and management is to establish protocol
                  addressing human and worker rights.

                  Raises were negotiated with another, pro-management union now operating in
                  the plant.