It is with great sadness that we report our dear friend and ally for worker justice, Stephen Coats, died in his sleep on Tuesday.
Stephen was the founder and long-time executive director of the U.S. Labor Education in the Americas Project (USLEAP), Stephen was known for his tireless commitment to worker struggles in Central and South America. His life's work will continue to inspire and touch the lives of many across the globe.
Stephen reminded us at home that a world of global workers demanded justice throughout the supply chain. Through his work with USLEAP, he helped connect fair labor advocates here to the incredible need for their support across the globe. He worked to improve workers’ rights in the apparel, cut flowers and banana industries in Central America, Ecuador and Colombia. His advocacy and the work of USLEAP brought about justice for thousands of workers and helped end sweatshop conditions in a number of Latin American countries. Stephen was also a leading advocate combating violence against trade unionists in Colombia.
To many around the IWJ office, Stephen was more than just an inspiring global worker advocate. He was part of the IWJ family —the loving husband of IWJ's Executive Director Kim Bobo and proud father of their twin sons, Benjamin and Eric. Stephen worked beside us both as an ally in the work, but also out of our national office in Chicago.
As the Interfaith Worker Justice family mourns the loss of our dear friend, we ask for your thoughts and prayers and continued commitment to worker justice for the world's workers so as to honor the work our friend Stephen championed throughout his life.