The United Fruit Company in Latin America

By Stacy May; Galo Plaza | Go to book overview

VIII
Labor Relations and Public Relations

THE ESSENCE OF THE PROBLEMS of the United Fruit Company in its relations with Latin American employees, the Latin American general public, and Latin American governments lies in the fact that the company is at present controlled and staffed in its executive branches mainly by North Americans. These people are quite naturally conditioned by value patterns dominant in the United States. In order to carry on the production of bananas in Latin America, they must come to terms with people--ranging from common laborers to presidents of republics--who have been trained in a somewhat different value system.

Latin Americans do not always see things in the same context as their North American opposites. Their area is undergoing a phase of sociocultural and economic development that frequently expresses itself in terms of extreme nationalism and the rejection of anything that, realistically or not, symbolizes for them the suggestion of foreign domination or imperialism.

The basic problem of the United Fruit Company, then, insofar as it concerns Latin American people, is to develop policies under which the company can live with the Latin Americans to the mutual benefit of itself and of them.


LABOR RELATIONS

WITH THE, CHANGES--economic and social-- which occurred in Latin America during the late 1940's and early 1950's came the realization that the company's labor relations policies should be made uniform in all divisions.

The present system of labor relations offices; throughout the United Fruit Company's tropical divisions was standardized early in 1956. These offices were set up after a field study and recommendations had been made by a labor relations expert of long experience who had been retained by the company following a series of difficulties that came to a head in 1954.

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