Mexicans Call for Labor Unity with U.S

By Griffin-Nolan, Ed | National Catholic Reporter, June 30, 1995 | Go to article overview

Mexicans Call for Labor Unity with U.S


Griffin-Nolan, Ed, National Catholic Reporter


Three Mexican labor leaders made a 13-city tour of the United States in mid-June urging workers, church people and the public to support international solidarity so that free-trade unions may survive.

Benedicto Martinez Orozco, a national director of Mexico's Authentic Labor Front, announced June 15 in Albany, N.Y., that his organization has formed an alliance with the United Electrical, Radio and Machine Workers of America to organize workers at corporations operating on both sides of the border.

"One of the few good things NAFTA has brought us has been this -- it has brought us together," Martinez said. "Our language, our skin color, perhaps our height, all set us apart, but as workers, we face the same conditions."

The labor leaders said that political repression against independent unions is on the rise, threatening workers' ability to defend themselves at a time when Mexican government policies are exacerbating poverty.

Martinez heads a Mexican local of the Metal Workers union, which has been in dispute with the Kirkwood Co. of Cleveland, Ohio, to represent workers at that company's Mexico City auto parts factory. According to Martinez, the company has fired more than 100 workers recently and police have been used to keep organizers out of the plant.

Martinez said that this struggle, preceding a collective bargaining election scheduled for late June, is representative of similar disputes spreading throughout a post-NAFTA Mexico.

Felipe Gonzalez, a member of the Mexican executive committee of the National Union of Otis Elevator Workers who accompanied Martinez on the tour, said workers from his organization have been hit severely by the economic shakeup in Mexico in recent months. …

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