THE MAQUILADORA WORKERS OF JUAREZ FIND THEIR VOICE
By David Bacon The Nation, web edition, 11/20/15
Rosario Acosta and other mothers march behind the banner of the group they organized: “Nuestras Hija de Regreso a Casa” – “May Our Daughters Come Home”
CIUDAD JUAREZ, CHIHUAHUA — After more than a decade of silence, maquiladora workers in Ciudad Juarez have found their voice. The city, just across the Rio Grande from El Paso, Texas, is now the center of a growing rebellion of laborers in the border factories. At the gates to four plants, including a huge 5000-worker Foxconn complex, they have set up encampments, or “plantons,” demanding recognition of independent unions, and protesting firings and reprisals.
“We just got so tired of the insults, the bad treatment and low wages, that we woke up,” explains Carlos Serrano, a leader of the revolt at Foxconn’s Scientific Atlanta facility. “We don’t really know what’s going to happen now, and we’re facing companies that are very powerful and have a lot of money. But what’s clear is that we are going to continue. We’re not going to stop.”
The Juarez protests come just as Congress gets ready to debate a new trade treaty, the Trans Pacific Partnership, which opponents charge will reproduce the same devastation Mexican workers experienced as a result of the North American Free Trade Agreement. Critics charge NAFTA cemented into place a regime of low wages, labor violations and violence on the border after it took effect in 1994. Today, economic pressure has become so extreme that Juarez’ workers feel they have no choice but to risk their jobs in hope of change.
Ali Lopez, a single mother at the planton outside the ADC CommScope factory, describes grinding poverty. “The only way a single mother can survive here is with help from family or friends,” she says. Lopez has two daughters, one 13 and one 6 years old. “I can’t spend any time with them because I’m always working. When I leave in the morning, I leave food for the older one to warm up for lunch. Childcare would cost 200 pesos a week or more, so I can’t afford it.” Continue reading