Tom Morello Plays Concert for Korean Guitar Workers

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Musician Tom Morello performs onstage during the Rock A Little, Feed Alot benefit concert held at Club Nokia on September 29, 2009 in Los Angeles, California. File photo.

This week guitarist Tom Morello of Rage Against the Machine performed at the KIWA Cultural Center in Los Angeles to raise money and awareness for a group of Korean guitar workers.

The workers were once employed at Cort and Cor-Tek. There they built guitars for American companies like Fender, Gibson and Ibanez. But, Morello says, they had poor working conditions.

"When the workers organized in 2006, formed a union and began demanding more justice and dignity in the workplace," Morello says, "the company fired everyone wholesale, shut the factory and moved them to China."

A group of the Korean workers decided to take their case directly to American instrument makers. They traveled to Anaheim for the annual National Association of Music and Merchants trade show.

Tom Morello called on musician friends like Wayne Kramer of MC5 and held a concert to raise awareness of their plight. The concert was free though they asked the audience for donations which was originally intended to go to the Korean guitar makers. But they decided instead to give the money to earthquake relief efforts in Haiti.

Morello was so moved by their generosity that he wrote a new song called "Worldwide Rebel Song." To hear the lyrics, listen to his interview with KPCC's Alex Cohen.

A statement from Fender says the company has offered to meet with representatives of the Korean Workers Metal Union next week to "better understand their claims against Cort and Cor-Tek." The company says it's also contacting related vendors, suppliers, dealers and other business partners to make sure the company has a full-view of the facts.

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