Grant Research takes LER Professor to Guatemalan Banana Plantations

Mark Anner, associate professor of labor and employment relations and director of the Center for Global Workers’ Rights, traveled to Guatemala in February for research as part of his work associated with a series of ongoing grants.
Grant Research takes LER Professor to Guatemalan Banana Plantations

Mark Anner, center, with union leaders in Guatemala. Anner is holding the collective bargaining agreement for the banana workers on the Atlantic coast side of Guatemala.

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. – Mark Anner, associate professor of labor and employment relations and director of the Center for Global Workers’ Rights, traveled to Guatemala in February for research as part of his work associated with a series of ongoing grants.

Anner has been collaborating with the Solidarity Center, which does work with labor unions and workers’ rights organizations around the world. The Solidarity Center is associated with the United States labor movement and approached Anner several years ago about starting a series of research reports on union organizing and collective bargaining in the global agricultural sector.

Anner and his research teams looked at agricultural industries in three countries so far. They have surveyed workers in the olives/olive oil and grapes/wine industries in Morocco as well as the palm oil industry in Colombia. Anner’s trip to Guatemala to meet with workers on banana plantations was the focus of the most recent grant. 

For this trip, Anner traveled around the country to visit banana plantations and talk to workers, union leaders, employers, government representatives, research institutes and representatives of the brands such as Del Monte.

Anner added, “It was a phenomenal trip and I learned a lot. The biggest takeaway was that on the Atlantic coast of Guatemala – where there’s a long history of labor unions and collective bargaining agreements – conditions are dramatically better than on the Pacific coast where they have no unions and no collective bargaining agreements.” 

Anner said the next step is to analyze the interview data, finish the worker surveys, and complete statistical analysis on their responses. He hopes to have the final report completed later this spring.

February 13, 2020