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Western Hemisphere Factory 'Super-Compliance' - A Case Study


At the bottom of this article is a list, a long list. It is a list of actions and worker investments Joe Stephenson and Scott Vaughn of the clothing factory Rocedes in Managua, Nicaragua take on behalf of their people. Joe is a member of our Executive Committee at AAPN and has been a member since our beginning in 1981.


Now - the list. You'll understand most of them but NOT the significance of many of them because, frankly, you are not Nicaraguan. You're probably your run of the mill American who's command of Spanish, not to mention of Latin America, or the region of Central America or, specifically, Nicaragua is limited. This is a serious and very expensive limitation.


But, you probably think you DO speak 'compliance'. That is for sure. By gosh, you know your compliance. Why, you could fly on down there and tell them Nicaraguans what they need to do, what they need to spend, to 'take care' of those peasants. right?


Wrong. You don't. Therein lies the problem. When I sent the list you'll see below to an actual retailer, and not just to their compliance staff but others in their headquarters, one wrote in response, "Wow!  Where do I sign up?  I have to say we don't even benefits like that here at (our staff of a major retailer). I have been in some very forward and socially responsible factories around the world and I have not seen anything quite like the list below.  Admirable and impressive."


'Admirable and impressive" huh? You know why? They didn't think of this list and they never will. To actually get on a plane and wade into the hot climate of actual production and literal compliance and super-human benefits tailored to the real problems of the people there is out of the question - out of the comfort zone of your typical 'compliance' guru.


As Joe himself wrote me after reading the response of the retailer, "Don't get too excited...all the things we do make us feel good and are the right thing to do...however they are not part of the evaluation system used by the retailers and brands to grade factories. They have minimum standards...it doesn't count if we exceed in other categories. Yes, we paid for over 150 kids to have cleft pallet surgery....but that doesn't count or offset a violation."


Imagine what the list must read like in Indonesia, Bangladesh or even bordering Honduras! One standard set of compliance rules enforced by a US retailer does not a happy local apparel worker make!


What these guys do - THIS is not compliance, this is ‘SUPER-compliance’. THIS solves problems the people who work in these jobs actually really have. THIS is EXPENSIVE. THIS means something. And THIS is why people clamor for a job at Rocedes, because it is not a job. It is what you and I enjoy. It is a CAREER. 


I don’t know the cost of the Catholic Mass one member pays for at his office. Or the costs of the practices other job creating leaders up and down the chain in these countries make. I know they all cost something. And I know anything that makes them spend money on ‘compliance’ from above takes away from investment on the ground that solves real problems.



..Blood Drive – gave more blood than any company in Nicaragua

..Dental care with time payment

..Free eye exams and low cost glasses

..Free Cervical Cancer Exam

..Pay for electricity, rent and water for independent lunch contractor

..Pharmacy discounts of 28-35% for extended family

..Free Tetanus Vaccinations

..Discount cell phones for employees with 1 or more years service

..After work internet phone to call relatives in the US

..Negotiate to get employyes' kids the lowest cost school items and distribute them at the factory

..Free Children International Day picnic for 3,000 employees and their children

..Credit Card program for employees

..Library for employees

..100% scholarships for 15 children to the free zone day care center

..Free monthly birthday parties for employees

..Rocedes 10 year Service Pin and monthly meeting of all 10 Year Club employees

..End of Year Party with gifts, free food for home meals and money matching of department collections for their own private parties

..Holy Week art contests, raffle of 400 food baskets and beach theme gifts

..May 1 Labor Day celebration and free lunch for all

..La Purisma annual celebration of the Virgin Mary with gifts and awards

..Mothers and Fathers Day – recognition, gifts and special gifts for expectant mothers

..Rocedes basketball teams – 6 teams, free uniforms, games for 6 hours every Saturday

..Sponsorship of two youth baseball teams

..CANANCA, sponsorship of all medicine for 20 children with cancer, and display of their photos at work

..New Life Foundation – renovated a building which is now a K thru 6th Grade School

..Rafael Herrera School – donated supplies to renovate the school, pays the entire annual salary of one teacher

..Rosario Reyes Center for Teaching – donated 20 industrial sewing machines and 700 yards of fabric

..“We Help Them Smile” - funded correction of cleft pallets for 150 children, including those of employees and of their children

Comments (1)

Juan Balas Cojab said

at 11:06 am on Apr 29, 2009

This article is very interesting because the western hemisphere is always looking to go beyond compliace but who is looking for this in the factories overseas?
In most cases the retail does not compare apples to apples !! I hope this information changes their mind...

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