Workers in the NAFTA factories should earn a living wage.
Why buy fair trade? Fair trade is a commitment to the idea of a “living wage” for the first producer of a product sold in the world economy.
U.S. companies hired Mexican workers for wages that are about 1/10th of the wages earned in the U.S. A normal work week in a NAFTA maquiladora is 48 hours. A worker should earn enough money to meet the basic needs of shelter, food, medical care and entertainment with just enough left over to save for vacation, extraordinary and/or emergency expenses.
*** Photo courtesy of Mary Jordan, Wash. Post
Maquiladora workers hired in Mexico often struggle to secure a living wage from their employers, often American companies that fled the U.S. to avoid paying union (living) wages. Working women typically complain about insufficient wages for stressful 10-12 hour workdays. The wages barely help the workers survive, not thrive. Often there is not enough money for meat, milk, fresh vegetables and for children’s school supplies.
A multinational corporation that does not pay a living wage is sending out a product into the market economy that is not fair trade. Do you know if your household purchases are fair trade?