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Archive for the ‘Take Action’ Category

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


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:

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 ( 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:

– 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 We will make sure to use it Thursday through Saturday in Anaheim.

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

The word from Fender…

In Take Action, Uncategorized, Update on January 22, 2010 at 6:33 am

On Sunday, January 17th, Cort and Cor-tek guitar workers and cultural arts supporters from Korea and the US met with Fender Musical Instruments Corporation at the Hilton Hotel in Anaheim.

A sizable portion of Cort’s production is for Fender. The percentage is not known exactly at this time, but the Cort workers estimated it could be as high as 50% of Cort’s orders. (This page from Fender’s website shows how one can spot if their own Fender guitar is made in Korea (C is for Cort). This page shows how one can tell if their Squier guitar, a brand owned by Fender, has been made by Cort Guitars.)

As we stated in an earlier post, Fender claimed it had no idea of the workers’ situation and stated that it will conduct an investigation. Musicians like Tom Morello and Fender’s own endorser, musician Wayne Kramer, of the band MC5, have spoken to Fender on the Cort worker’s behalf.

Kramer, performing at our action in front of the NAMM Show on Saturday, Jan. 16th, with Cort worker Bang Jongoon appreciating his music next to him.

The meeting was an opportunity for the workers to present the facts about Cort’s illegal mass dismissal and its movement of its factories to China and Indonesia. It was also a brief time to clearly state their conditions for a fair investigation of Cort by Fender.

For Cort union officer Mr. Bang, as someone who worked at Cort for more than twenty years, one of the key points of struggle, and one of the most tangible, is the company’s refusal to pay worker’s compensation for workers who have been certified as those injured on the job. The Cort and Cor-tek workers brought to the meeting documents officially recognizing approximately thirty workers who were considered victims of industrial accident or injury.

Ultimately, Fender’s PR and legal counsel promised to conduct a fair and independent investigation that would rely on testimony and documents from both sides as well as from third-party sources, and to keep the workers updated on the investigation’s progress. For the Cort workers and their supporters, a fair process would involve consistent representation and participation by the union (and not just a closed dialogue between the companies Cort and Fender).

Fender’s PR and legal counsel asked the workers, “At the end of the process, what do you ultimately want to see as an outcome?” The workers explained, as they have throughout their struggle, that they want Cort to reopen its factories in Korea, that they want to return to work, and to do so with the company’s recognition of their right to collectively bargain with the company.

However, what the workers thought only part and parcel of a fair investigation, that Fender stop new orders with Cort until the investigation was concluded, was not something that Fender promised, although they stated they would look into it. In a sense, the inability to commit to this leaves the bread and butter of Cort’s operations running smoothly.

What we also learned at the end of the meeting was that while Fender has an internal Code of Conduct, it does not require the companies abroad who produce its guitars to abide by it.

While it is not necessarily a surprise that this is the case, this lack of worker safeguards for a process as dangerous and difficult as the mass production of guitars shows a familiar but disturbing double standard; the protections that American workers receive in Fender’s factories on US shores are not extended to the Korean workers who made its guitars for decades, or, for that matter, the Chinese and Indonesian workers making them now. We can only imagine, if Cort company treated their Korean workers so badly for decades, how the Chinese and Indonesian workers are faring now.

See this video for a recurring theme: guitar workers who stay with a company for decades. Meet Abigail Ybarra, who has been with Fender since 1956 (at 6:19 in the video). Why would it be any different for a worker who has been with Cort for decades? Of course they want to keep making guitars.

The video ends with the punchline, what most people assume and yet is not 100% true: “Fender guitars, made in America.”

How could Fender or other American guitar companies not know?

During the NAMM Show, a German manufacturer that had contracted with Cort in the 1980s, came up to us and told us that his company used to work with Cort in the 1980s. As a product manager, he had visited the factory many times a year. When he visited, he was appalled that the workers had to live with such conditions – without the proper masks, without the proper ventilation equipment above the workstations. He remembered the Cort factory as a ‘hell.’ To be clear, the ‘80s were also when many of the American guitar companies that we know began relying on Cort for their budget guitar production.

While this German music industry insider didn’t know what the conditions at Cort were like now, he told us it was hard to believe that companies could claim to not know the working conditions at Cort. He said that any product manager would visit the factory at least 10 times a year to check on production and to ensure quality control.

Perhaps the problem is that the long hours, the lack of workers’ compensation, the forced resignations, the sexual harassment, and other such degrading conditions are not visible to the naked eye nor taking place as an American business partner visits. Just as Jack Westheimer recalled for us that the Cort factories were ‘state of the art’ – when we are talking about the number of face masks a worker gets a week, or whether they are being arbitrarily switched around workstations by managers, these may not part of a standard checklist for quality control.

As the German manufacturer stated, ‘It is different now. Now we have to pay attention to these conditions, the environment, everything. “ I would say, rather, that we should have been paying attention from the beginning.

After all, the motto of Fender is “Make History.” Let it be the first among the legendary guitar giants to live up to its motto and make history by implementing a Code of Conduct that guarantees basic worker protections for all workers, whether they are based on American shores or abroad.

If you are like many- a music lover, a Fender fan, a believer in worker rights- please tell Fender you want to see justice for the Cort workers.