Guitar Workers + Musicians United!

Archive for January, 2011|Monthly archive page

Solidarity concert @ NAMM Saturday, and a chance encounter with Cort’s CEO

In Uncategorized on January 21, 2011 at 5:47 am

On Saturday, January 15, in Anaheim, California, the Cort workers were joined in front of NAMM by many supporters, workers and musicians, some who were already at NAMM and others who were inspired to support the Cort workers after hearing about the struggle. This was an important day because it was the day of our scheduled meeting with Fender as well.

The day began with a contingent of supporters from United Steel Workers Local 675- and not just the workers themselves, but their families too.

Many of the union members helped to pass out fliers and explain to NAMM attendees about the Cort struggle. Having more voices and more hands to share the Cort workers’ cause was an incredible support.

A United Steel Workers supporter

A representative from United Steel Workers speaking on behalf of the union to NAMM. As he said, ‘No one should accept terrible working conditions or the continued loss of jobs to cheaper labor overseas. The Cort workers’ struggle is our struggle. ‘

Musician Phoenix Benjamin, invited to NAMM to display his 9-string guitar, addressed the musicians in the crowd. He told them to not lose their principles and their sense of justice just because they were being offered sponsorships and “free gear.” “Come on!” he urged. Musicians nearby gave him applause for his comments.

Daniel Carrillo, an organizer with ENLACE International, an alliance of low-wage worker centers and community organizations in Mexico and the US, also exhorted NAMM attendees to pay attention to the basic worker rights that everyone deserved.

ENLACE International staff Daniel Carrillo speaking

From 1pm – 5pm, musicians took over the mike, from California to Scotland, performing in a a marathon outdoor concert.  Some included musicians who wear many hats, including as guitar shop owners, such as Dan Doshier below.

He also owns a shop in Oregon. He told us that he didn’t know about the Cort guitar worker situation until NAMM – and promised that from now on, he would no longer stock Cort Guitars.

The band Aparato! heard about us through a tweet by Tom Morello. Their music, a bilingual, cultural hybrid of Latin and American music, along with statements of support for the Cort workers, was deeply felt.

For those of you who do not follow Tom @tmorello, here is the tweet he sent out, below, linking to this blog. We hope musicians who were led to this blog via Tom can continue to show their support, whether through their music or by spreading the word.

Aparato! with the Cort guitar workers –

The Shaun Cloutier band came to support again, this time with more band members. Lacking a drum, they made do with our water kettle – which sounded great. Shaun’s website will feature some video of the Cort worker from Korea speaking along with the band’s performance: stay tuned here.


Shin Kawasaki, musician, a long-time supporter of Cort guitar workers' campaign

At the end of the day, Korean drummers from LA joined us, and we wove a procession around the convention center, passing out fliers. The sound of the drums echoed against the glass curves of the center and made us impossible to ignore. While some attendees were too busy to pay any attention, many people sitting on the benches or walking by wanted to know what was going on. Some already knew about the campaign and raised their fists along with the beat.

Right before our meeting with Fender, in the Hilton Hotel lobby, who did we spot, coming from a meeting or a room, but the CEO of Cort Guitars himself, Mr. Yung-ho Park (see photo, center, below) . The Cort guitar workers confronted him – asking, “When are you going to resolve this issue? Why are you trying to block what is just and fair? Why won’t you re-open your factories?”

Mr. Park, however, said nothing. He mostly turned his face away, looking wordlessly at the tall men next to him.  Later, the man in the photo to the right tried to threaten the person taking the photo, saying we had to turn over the camera. While the workers did not get any response from Mr. Park, still it was serendipitous, that after all the years of campaigning in Korea, in Japan, in Germany, that they should come face to face with the man who had cut off their livelihoods in a hotel lobby in Anaheim.

A moment later, after hotel security gave us a warming, we sat down to our meeting with Fender. This update to come next.

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Stand with the Cort workers @NAMM

In Take Action on January 15, 2011 at 10:35 am

At NAMM, telling the crowd about Cort workers' struggle

After two days of actions at NAMM, tomorrow, Saturday Jan. 15th, is the day when the Cort and Cor-tek guitar workers request your presence and support. Saturday is also our third meeting with Fender, which promised an investigation of Cort Guitars, but has done nothing for a year. The more who join us, the livelier it will be for us, and the more people will take note and ask, “What’s going on with Cort Guitars and Fender?” We will be at NAMM all day, starting at 10am.

Starting from 11am – 1pm, we will be joined by the United Steel Workers Local 675 from 11- 1pm.

At 1pm, musicians who support the Cort guitar workers will join us, including Shin Kawasaki, Aparato!, Nocy K, and Phoenix Benjamin.

At 2pm, we will have a rally and musical march – if you can’t come at any other time, this is the time to come. If you have noisemakers, props, costumes, bring them by and add some sound and color to our march. As we march down the sidewalks of the center, we will pass out fliers to the passerby and show attendees, and can use all the help we can get.

Thank you to all those who were able to SIGN OUR PETITION to Fender (please keep doing so, as we head into our meeting with Fender on Saturday) and to those who were able to tune in to our coverage on 90.7 KPFK for Uprising Radio, or to Fox 11 news last night and this morning, which covered the Cort story last night and today for a total of 4 airings.

LA Fox News 11 interviewing Cort guitar worker

Today, we also received some art about the Cort worker campaign made in solidarity by Serpica Naro, a collective focused on autonomous and alternative production under the guise of an Anglo-Japanese fashion designer, formed in response to the casualization of the garment industry in Milan. We first met them in Harajuku, Tokyo, where the Cort workers did an action with the Kawai piano workers in front of a Kawai store. Thank you!

Serpica Naro graphic for Cort worker campaign

Taking Action at NAMM (Day 1), Press Conference

In Uncategorized on January 14, 2011 at 10:56 am

Cort worker at NAMM 2011, with a drawing of Cort CEO Yungho Park

ACTION ALERT: Please sign the petition all day FRIDAY, JANUARY 14, addressed to the CEO of Cort and the CEO of Fender. Find it here, at this link: http://action.laborrights.org/p/dia/action/public/?action_KEY=1172

Cort workers speaking with Uprising Radio, 90.7FM KPFK

MEDIA ALERT: Listen to an interview with the Cort workers FRIDAY MORNING January 14, 8am – at Uprising Rising KPFK 90.7FM.The segment will probably air at 8:20am. http://uprisingradio.org/home/

Fox 11 News covered the press conference and interview the Cort and Cor-tek workers from Korea. The coverage aired Thursday 1/13 at 10pm and 11pm, and will also air tomorrow morning. The coverage will be available online starting at www.myfoxla.com

Tefere Gebre from the Orange County Federation of Labor speaks at the press conference.

Press Conference in front of NAMM, 11am

Today was the first official day of NAMM, and the Cort workers were gathered outside, launching an 11 am press conference.

Thinking about last year’s actions at NAMM, it seems the weather always gets warmer around NAMM. This is great for us, since we spend all of the day outside Anaheim Convention Center.

Cort union officer speaking at press conference

In the leadup to NAMM, the workers went to various community events to present their struggle.

Love and Live LA, at KIWA Cultural Education Center

Cort workers at the Love & Live LA event

Cort worker picket-making to prepare for NAMM actions

How to support the Cort workers @NAMM

In Take Action on January 10, 2011 at 12:55 am

The Cort and Cor-tek guitar workers of Korea are now en route to LA from Incheon, South Korea.

On Friday, January 7th, they held a press conference in Seoul, to publicize this 2nd trip to LA for the NAMM Show, to demand that Cort Guitars do what is just and re-open their factories and rehire all of the fired workers.

Cort Worker Press Conference in Korea before their flight to LA

Many people have asked how they can support.

Whether you are a musician, a guitar lover, or an everyday citizen that cares about what is right, there are many things you can do.

On January 10th, 7pm, there will be a forum in LA’s Koreatown about the US-Korea FTA. At that forum, the Cort and Cor-tek workers will speak about their struggle as well. (Location: KIWA Cultural Education Center, 3472 West 8th Street, LA, 7-10pm)

During NAMM, we will be at Anaheim Convention Center every day from January 13- 15th, from the start to the end of the business day.

We invite MUSICIANS and SPEAKERS and VOLUNTEERS from all walks of life to share their support, whether through music or through whatever talent you  have, helping us hand out fliers and speaking to  NAMM attendees about how Cort’s guitar sweatshops are not acceptable, and that workers have the right to negotiate for better conditions without getting fired. (Please download, print, email the flier below to friends, local music stores, and to musicians who can support us at NAMM)

WHERE: At the Anaheim Convention Center, between Halls B and C, near the Palm Courts (and also near the Hilton Hotel)- where Convention Way road meets the convention center.

Cort Action Musician and Supporter Flier

For those of you with contact in the media or part of the media, our PRESS CONFERENCE is at NAMM, on January 13, at 11am. Those who want to schedule interviews can email: cortguitar.action@gmail.com.

The location of the press conference is also indicated in the same map.

Cort Action @ NAMM map

If you are attending NAMM, please go and tell Cort Guitars (Hall C, Booth 4468) to respect worker rights and rehire the workers who toiled for them for decades!
Also tell Fender (Booth 304BCD, Level 3, 300 Level 3@ the convention center, and at the Marriott Hotel) to conduct a timely and fair investigation of the company.

Whether or not you are in the LA area, you can support by outreaching about the campaign by

-Spreading the fact sheet (below)

Fact Sheet about Cort Guitars & Cort Action

– Do you have your own blog, website or forum? Post up this badge of your support with a link to this blog

Web Badge for Cort Action

-Sharing links to this blog (https://cortaction.wordpress.com) via email, Facebook, Twitter, etc.

-Joining and inviting people to follow Cort Action on Facebook and Twitter
Facebook Cort Worker Action
Twitter  @cortaction

-Post on Cort Guitars’ forums, Fender forums, Ibanez forums, and their Facebook pages, and let them know you want to see justice restored to these workers.
Here is a link to the Cort company’s blog: http://www.cortguitars.com/news

– Send tweets to Cort Guitars @Cort_Guitars (use the hashtag #cortaction) or to Fender @Fender.
You can tweet the workers stories, tweet your own support and beliefs about worker rights and justice.

– Create art, images, stickers, urging justice for Cort guitar workers, and send files to cortguitar.action@gmail.com. We will make sure to use it Thursday through Saturday in Anaheim.

Hope to see many supporters at NAMM this year and active online!

Cort workers fight into the year 2011

In Uncategorized on January 1, 2011 at 8:17 pm

Woody Guthrie by Shephard Fairey

Woody Guthrie, a singer-songwriter who was seminal to the American folk music tradition, frequently performed with the slogan “This Machine Kills Fascists” on his guitar.  Guthrie said,

“I hate a song that makes you think that you are not any good. I hate a song that makes you think that you are just born to lose. Bound to lose. No good to nobody. No good for nothing. Because you are too old or too young or too fat or too slim too ugly or too this or too that. Songs that run you down or poke fun at you on account of your bad luck or hard traveling.

I am out to fight those songs to my very last breath of air and my last drop of blood. I am out to sing songs that will prove to you that this is your world and that if it has hit you pretty hard and knocked you for a dozen loops, no matter what color, what size you are, how you are built.

I am out to sing the songs that make you take pride in yourself and in your work.”

In this vein, the Cort and Cor-tek guitar workers are fighting for their jobs back, because they take pride in their work. As they fight, alongside them are the musicians and cultural workers who stand with the Cort and Cor-tek guitar workers

Even into the cold fall and winter months, Cort and Cor-tek workers did a daily protest in front of Cort headquarters.

Cort workers' daily protest outside Cort headquarters

Even when conducting this peaceful, non-violent action, the workers encounter violence from the management of Cort Guitars.

Placard ripped by Cort manager

The monthly shows at Club Bbang in Hongdae, Seoul, have also continued without pause, all year long, hosting performances and art with the Cort workers.

Cartoonist Dongsoo Yi draws the performers

Throughout 2010, we contacted Fender, asking for an update on the investigation. They knew about the seriousness of the Cort union’s matter with two direct meetings with the Cort and Cor-tek workers in January and March (You can read about those meetings here and here). What had they to tell us by September? That they were still translating documents, at expense to themselves.

That is why the Cort and Cor-tek workers, who have been struggling for their jobs since 2007, cannot rest and cannot stop fighting.

In January 2011, the NAMM Show again opens, bringing the music industry together to promote and sell their products. Cort, Fender and Ibanez will all be there.

And the Cort and Cor-tek workers will be there. Flying from Korea to Anaheim, to again make it known: a guitar worker is not disposable. Demanding fair conditions on the job should not be penalized with mass dismissal.

And we must stand with them.

So once again- January 13- 16th @ Anaheim Convention Center, Anaheim, California – stand with the Cort and Cor-tek guitar workers of Korea. Contribute whatever you can – whether its outreach, talking to passerby, or by sharing your music, your art, your voice, your hands.

Remember, as Woody Guthrie knows, your guitar is not for the same-old status quo. It is for fighting against a world where people and their work are devalued.

Please contact us through this blog or at cortguitar.action@gmail.com.

Song for Workers, a woodcut by artist Yoon Yup