Workers’ Voices

From its inception in 2001 WOB has sought to advance public education about the important role women play in today’s global economy.  The voices of working women in Mexico and the U.S. were heard at DePaul University’s conference “Cross-Border Trade at the Mexican Border” in the early 2000s.  Workers active in the Comite Fronterizo de Obreras  told stories of bad pay, sexual harassment, toxicity and lack of safey in job duties, wage theft and retaliatory firings of organizers.    Immigrant women from San Antonio spoke of the background story to the forming of Fuerza Unida when in the 1990s the Levi-Strauss factory shut its doors to relocate across the border and left 800 workers jobless overnight.  

MAQUILADORA WORKER STORIES:

From 2001 to 2014 Women on the Border gathered stories on delegations to the border from workers in the maquiladoras.  Their stories provided a human face to the impact of NAFTA.

Amparo’s Story  “Mi padre es del Valle de Bravo en el estado de Mexico. Mis padres son de Toluca que está como a media hora del D.F. Los dos de mis padres aun viven. Mi papa se llama Margarito Reyes Villega, y mi mamá se llama Amalia Galicia. Los dos son de Mexico.  Mi padre se vino a la frontera primero en el 1973…” Read more.

Juan Pablo’s Story – Interview by Josefina Castillo  “As organizer for CFO, I tried to coordinate the elections to renew the Union and to elect new plant delegates. The moment my partners and I started organizing we were fired. And there was no turn back, ten people were fired. This was a year ago. The owners did not want an independent union aside from the official Confederación de Trabajadores Mexicanos (CTM) which is a corrupt union that worked hand in hand with the Mexican government for 70 years…” Read more.

Juan Pablo – Interview Notes  “PIEDRAS NEGRAS, COAHUILA, MEXICO.  32 yrs. Old – DOB 28 february – 1972.  Moves from small village – Monclova, Coahuila – around 1987.  18 years old begins to work in muebleria (furniture factory).  Also job as secretario (direccion de teatro).  Short time as librarian.  Fairly young (not out to parents)… Read more.

Sofia’s Story – Interview Notes  “For us, we came only with our clothing. And the aunt who was supposed to help us didn’t help us very much at all. She didn’t give us much support. The aunt was having too many of her own problems, expecially with her husband. My husband told the supervisor this story and she went about to help us and found us a home to live in. We lived in it for about 6 months. ?During this time I began to buy my own dishes and things on layaway. I bought then from an “abonero,” people who get you things that sometimes may come through connections through companies, or sometimes the products aren’t considered safe because of “the water”… Read more.

Paty’s Story – Interview Notes  “1984 worked at Ceramico. – painted small objects?exposed to paint thinners all day – three different containers – one with paint, another with thinner and another with a solvent. The thinner was the strongest. Sat at table – during that job 2 or 3 women workers fainted in front of her. Worked there 6 years. Would get strong headaches…” Read more.

Marina’s Story – Interview Notes  “Worked as inspector of “monoblocks”.  Six months in wiring, and six months in soldering. ?No children but family dependent on her income in Mexico.  Biggest health complaint as a result of the work – bones because of having to stand so long.  Working conditions complaint: Too long of a typical workday. So tired at the end of day that she cannot clean house and can’t even talk to anyone…” Read more.

  • WOB mourns the loss of Juanita Lopez Torres (1969-2013) champion for the rights of maquiladora workers who fiercely articulated the right of working woman to be treated with respect and dignity. Some of Juanita’s spirit as a feminist advocate for working women is seen in the segments of the YouTube video World Class People (by M Bosquez)  where she described an experience of sexual harassment and how she spoke up for her right to respect, a response that ultimately cost her her job.  VIEW HERE

REFLECTIONS FROM DELEGATIONS 

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