The Maquiladora Workers of Juarez Create Independent Unions

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”

Torreon, Coahuila  11/15/02 Rosario Acosta (l) and other mothers of women murdered and disappeared in Juarez, march in Torreon to call on Mexican authorities to investigate the cases.

Torreon, Coahuila 11/15/02
Rosario Acosta (l) and other mothers of women murdered and disappeared in Juarez, march in Torreon to call on Mexican authorities to investigate the cases.

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

If We Do Not Vote, The Haters Will Win – Dolores Huerta

by Duane Campbell

Dolores Huerta, who co-founded United Farmworkers with Cesar Chavez and who is an Honorary Chair of Democratic Socialists of America, spoke during a news conference Tuesday morning Nov. 10, before the Republican candidates debate  in Milwaukee  and said it’s “really unfortunate” that GOP leaders are trying to win by attacking innocent people.

Huerta has led movements for organizing union rights and  social justice  since the founding along with Cesar Chavez, Philip Vera Cruz and others  of the United Farm Workers (UFW) union. She continues through her current work in supporting union democracy,  civic engagement and promoting Latino Voter participation.

Organizing Latino voter education and outreach is an important part of defeating Republicans in 2016. And, it is working.poll

Huerta calls Donald Trump the face of the Republican Party, and accuses him of dehumanizing Latinos. With organized work, GOP positions on immigration and union rights may sink Republicans in the 2016 elections.

Huerta says Trump’s primary opponents are no better.

“When we think about people like Rubio and Ted Cruz, even Jeb Bush, who speaks Spanish, they may have a Spanish last name — but they do not have a Latino heart because they don`t care about immigrants. They don`t care about our community,” Huerta said. Continue reading

Labor for Bernie: Respect Our Dissent

by Labor for Bernie 2016

After SEIU’s endorsement of Clinton…
Sanders’ supporters call on leaders to recognize and respect differences of opinion within the union

A significant number of SEIU local union leaders, stewards and activists waged a valiant campaign to stop an early endorsement of Hillary Clinton for president by the union’s International Executive Board (IEB).

Members created a Facebook page, initiated a petition campaign, spoke out at union meetings and with the press, wrote letters and made calls to top union officers.

SEIU Local 560 in New Hampshire endorsed Bernie Sanders, while SEIU’s largest affiliate, 1199 (United Health Care East), Local 503 (Oregon public employees) and Local 509 (Massachusetts social service workers) all passed resolutions calling for no endorsement.

However, despite our best efforts, SEIU endorsed Clinton on Nov. 17, 2015.  The IEB undoubtedly believed it was in the best interests of the membership.  Days later, in a major repudiation of the IEB’s Clinton endorsement, SEIU Local 1984 in New Hampshire voted to endorse Sanders after thorough membership engagement, debate and discussion.

SEIU’s decision to endorse Clinton is short-sighted and unprincipled. It is based on a failed strategy of engaging in purely “transactional” politics with corporate liberals.  That’s why members who support Bernie Sanders are so understandably frustrated.  Many feel that SEIU’s endorsement process was insufficiently responsive to rank-and-file sentiment.  Some are threatening to stop their voluntary contributions to SEIU political action funds.

While many of us strongly disagree with the decision, we need to stay united and continue the fight for our shared objectives: the Fight for $15, immigration reform, reinstating Glass–Steagall and winning campaign finance reform. Continue reading

Strong Unions Strengthen Democracies and Deliver Peace

3500Houcine Abassi and Richard L Trumka, The Guardian (UK)

Strong unions make strong democracies. It sounds simplistic, but each of us have experienced this fundamental premise in our nations. As labor leaders in the United States and Tunisia [1] respectively, we know full well that when workers come together for a voice on the job, it boosts the economy, eases social unrest and creates the conditions for peace, prosperity and the protection of rights.

To be sure, we come from very different countries, each with its own set of economic and political challenges. But we have seen the healing power of unions firsthand.

In Tunisia, organized labor was the primary catalyst in winning and sustaining democracy as states around it descended back into totalitarianism. The coalition to build a strong, inclusive democratic alliance became known as the Quartet, bringing together labor, business, human rights and legal organizations. This effort earned the Quartet, with strong leadership from the Tunisian labor movement, the Nobel peace prize. Continue reading

SEIU: Do the Right Thing!

8cc74a6e-c506-4f92-b38c-5028c93b97fd-1SEIU is about to endorse the candidate who doesn’t support $15 an hour

According to recent news accounts, the SEIU International Executive Board (IEB) is about to endorse Hillary Clinton on Tuesday, Nov. 17.

SEIU’s biggest national campaign is the Fight for $15 and a union. Across the country, we are organizing workers to strike and demand a $15 minimum wage. Leaders and organizers will lose credibility if SEIU endorses a candidate in the Democratic Primaries who does not support a $15 minimum wage.

Members need to tell SEIU President Mary Kay Henry that an endorsement for Clinton at this time will divide and weaken our union. Call SEIU at 202-730-7000 and ask for Mary Kay Henry’s office or email her at  SEIU also has a “concerns and complaints” line for members at 202-730-7684. Make your voice heard now! Continue reading

Fight for $15 – Labor’s Big Bang or Not?

IMG_3693Will AFL-CIO Jump In?

 By Carl Finamore

There are only two flash points in American history where labor unions became center stage in politics.

I will call these “Big Bang” moments because they propelled the American Federation of Labor (AFL) after 1886 and the Committee for Industrial Organization (CIO) after 1935, from fledgling organizing committees into mass organizations directly impacting and attracting millions.

In the case of the AFL, it was due to avid support for the eight-hour day and in the case of the CIO, it was due to resolute support for union organizing of millions of previously excluded industrial workers.

There has never again been such mass acceptance and relevancy for labor, mostly because of numerous failures to grasp the historical moment. Continue reading

TPP Unveiled

TPP REVEALED: Special bulletin from our colleagues on Pro Trade: The Obama administration has released the text of the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement. Read it here:

The release sets the stage for a divisive fight in Congress next year that will once again pit Barack Obama against the labor movement and most of his fellow Democrats, reports Pro Trade’s Doug Palmer.

Approval of the landmark trade agreement between the United States, Japan and 10 other Asia-Pacific countries would rely heavily on votes from Republicans, in a replay of this year’s battle over trade promotion authority, which allows Obama to submit TPP to Congress for straight up-or-down votes without any amendments.

From Politico’s Morning Report.


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