What is a Maquiladora?

The term “maquiladora” has been equated with “sweatshop.” It is a place where workers get no respect, where they are treated like machines not humans, where they often have to  use toxic chemicals without proper safety gear.  The chemicals or machinery sometimes makes them sick or causes grave injury or even death.   Sick workers are often told they are crazy, the chemicals “aren’t making you sick.”  Some working women get sexually harassed or lose benefits or get suspended without pay for taking time off to care for a sick child or family member.   Maquiladora workers usually cannot organize collectively in order to seek better wages or working conditions.  Typically the worker who complains is labelled “buscapleitos” (troublemaker).   She is fired, and then she is blacklisted by all the maquiladoras in town.


Writer, attorney, Lawprof Emerita from Northern Illinois University.
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