Guitar Workers + Musicians United!

Archive for November, 2009|Monthly archive page

“Open the factory! We want to work!”

In Uncategorized on November 24, 2009 at 2:45 pm

For the Cort and Cor-tek workers in Korea, life was a blur of sawing and grinding wood, painting, varnishing, fitting, sanding. With hardly any time to see their families, they left for work at the factories in Daejon and Incheon while it was still dark outside, and they came home long after the sun had gone down.

Some people ask: ‘Well, if it was such hard work, and the conditions so terrible, why do the workers want Cort to reopen the factory?’

After making guitars for decades, this is not just another job- it is their art and their livelihood. To them, there is nothing like seeing the finished guitar in the factory and then slung on the backs of a musician in the street. They can say, “I made that.”

Of course, it’s not as if many of the Cort or Cor-tek workers themselves had been to the concerts where their guitars were played, or had time to pick it up and learn it themselves.

But through their struggle to be reinstated at Cort Guitars, the solidarity between the musicians and workers has brought the two together in a way that has not often happened before. Now the workers know who buys the guitars, and now musicians care about who makes their guitars.

Yokohama: Cor-tek worker with the Cort guitar he may have made in the factory, altered for a performance at Cream Festival (Nov. 7, 2009).

As musicians, artists, makers, and cultural activists – we believe that the people who make our instruments, who make art and music and beauty possible, should be able to work without fear, without harassment, without discrimination.

The Cort and Cort-tek workers have raised their voices for more than 1000 days of struggle, and we lift our voices with them by making our music, by lifting our brushes, by taking photos, and by telling the workers’ story in whatever way we know how.

Just as music and art are a global language that crosses borders, so is the belief in justice for the workers who make the music possible. So we take action and we ask you to join us – because a world in which workers are denied their rights and livelihoods is not the world in which we can make music.

See some of the past solidarity actions by musicians and artists (Korea, Japan, Germany) and submit your ideas and work to be posted on the Musicians and Artists page.
Even better, come to our actions in LA and Anaheim this coming January 8-17!

No-Cort! solidarity

In Uncategorized on November 23, 2009 at 2:23 pm

A supporter in Seoul, Korea holds one-man protest

We ask for your solidarity and creative actions.

This is about the people who made one third of the guitars being circulated worldwide but didn’t own any. Do the names Fender, Ibanez, G&L, or Parkwood sound familiar to you?

Their factory was unventilated and had no windows in the name of ‘high productivity.’ They worked without a break, like hens in cages, and eventually became ill and injured. Some workers lost their fingers in the sawing machines, others suffered from chronic muscle and bone related diseases caused by the sanding and grinding process with only a facemask against the dust. Most of them contracted bronchitis or asthma caused by working in the unventilated paint rooms full of solvents. They worked overtime without being paid for all those hours, arriving early and leaving late, some even collapsing at the factory and then asked to sign resignation papers by their boss while they lay in their hospital beds.

Nevertheless, these Korean workers were happy whenever they saw the gleaming guitars inlaid with mother of pearl, produced by their own hands and exported to countries around the world. They worked hard, day and night, for ten to twenty years with pride. Finally, after establishing their labor union in 2006, they raised their wage to the highest level in 12 years, but the raise only brought them near the minimum wage of Korea.

Meanwhile, Park Young Ho, the CEO of Cor-tek, has built up a fortune of $78Million dollars during this period, at the expense of the workers’ labor. (Click “read more” below to get the rest of the post)

Read the rest of this entry »

Welcome to the international site for the Cort/Cor-tek workers actions

In Uncategorized on November 22, 2009 at 4:10 pm

Because we believe that there can be no music without the workers who make the instruments.

Because the struggle for the Korean workers at Cort/Cor-tek knows no borders, and needs the support of people around the world, including musicians, activists, journalists, artists, cultural activists and anyone who believes that workers and artists need each other and should fight together for the right to make music that means something, that calls for justice.

On this blog, you can read and hear the Korean guitar workers’ stories, you can see the recent international actions by supporters from around the world, hear from the musicians and artists who support the Cort workers, see the media gallery of actions and events, and contact us or the Cort company and its global sponsors to demand basic justice for the workers.

Cor-tek factory in Daejon, by photographer Noh Soon Taek (노순택 작가)

As  you can see in the photo above, the factories in Korea are quiet, and the half-completed guitars are warping and cracking, gathering dust. For the workers who made these guitars, watching these  guitars turning into waste, the evidence of Cort/Cor-tek Guitars suddenly and without warning shifting their factories overseas, is heartbreaking.

What do they want? They want Cort/ Cor-tek to re-open the factories and let them regain their livelihoods, their dignity, and their identity as guitar workers.

For anyone considering buying a Cort guitar or bass, please reconsider.

Aren’t people worth more than guitars?

For current actions taking place in Korea and a history of the Cort workers actions in solidarity with cultural activists in the Korean language, see this blog:  cortaction.tistory.com.