Info on Maquilas

TRW Workers Make History!

Mexican Labor Authorities Recognize the TRW Workers’ Coalition
A Historic Precedent!
Your letters and solidarity are making a difference!
Please continue supporting TRW workers by demanding accountability from TRW headquarters

March 10, 2010

  • Labor authorities responded to demands of TRW Workers in Reynosa, Mexico, by threatening TRW management with a fine if they fail to appear at hearing

  • TRW management showed up at the Labor Department hoping to negotiate with the Workers Coalition but without success

  • The Mexican government responded to CJM members’ letters that exposed the lack of enforcement of labor law and the complicity of labor authorities.
 Actions:

  • Send letters to TRW headquarters supporting workers and tell them that workers are not alone (See sample below)

  • Send letters to president Obama telling him that NAFTA failed to meet promised expectations (See sample below)

  • Send a tax -deductible contribution to the Coalition for Justice in the Maquiladoras, 3611 Golden Tee Ln,. Missouri City, TX 77459
After TRW workers demonstrated in the capital of Tamaulipas state at the end of January, 2010, CJM members sent letters to President Calderón calling his attention to the TRW case and the failure of NAFTA. Please see background in coalitionforjustice.net

The Mexican government replied to TRW workers and CJM members’ letters stating that labor authorities would provide advice to the TRW workers regarding their labor dispute. However, CJM members responded arguing that none of the three levels of government in Mexico have responded to the workers’ demands. They continue to renege on their legal obligation to resolve labor disputes by referring workers to the CTM union, when the evidence clearly shows that the CTM is a ghost union that replaces labor law enforcement with corporate complicity.
Please see the following links:

Meanwhile, the TRW workers demonstrated in front of the labor department office on February 3 and 5, pressuring the Attorney General of the Labor Department to enforce the law.

As a result of these actions, on February 10, the Attorney General of the Labor Department called the TRW workers and gave them a legal document from the Labor Attorney General’s Office dated on February 3rd, and on government letterhead that recognizes the TRW Workers’ Coalition as the workers’ representative and calls the TRW local management in Reynosa to appear at a hearing. The notice also states that the labor office will impose a fine if TRW management fails to show up at the hearing. This is a historic precedent in workers’ struggles for the right to collective bargaining.
Please see the link to the document:

The same day, the workers went to the company and delivered personally to Lourdes Lozano, the TRW Human Resources lawyer, the notice for the hearing, which she signed. While they were there, the workers noticed that the facility, which supposedly was closed and where they used to work, was actually operating with 50 workers.

On February 12, the TRW management lawyer showed up at the hearing and negotiated directly with the TRW Workers Coalition, setting another precedent. Unfortunately, the negotiation was unsuccessful because the TRW lawyer maintained the same position the company has taken for the past ten months: to relocate the workers to a warehouse on the opposite side of the city, with lower salaries and worse conditions. The workers rejected his offer.

Your international solidarity made the labor authorities accountable to the workers’demands.

Now it’s crucial that you continue sending letters to TRW headquarters demanding that TRW be accountable to the workers and to President Obama calling attention to NAFTA’s failure. (sample letters below)

Workers of TRW and around the world are shouldering the burdens of an economic crisis provoked by the irresponsibility of multinational corporations.

“If they made their profits with our labor over the years, now they should be accountable to us.”
Ernesto Lizcano, TRW Worker from Reynosa

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Sample letter to TRW headquarters:

 John C. Plant, President and Chief Executive Officer TRW Automotive. Phone: 734.855.2600.
Email: John.plant@trw.com

Neil Marchuk Exec. VP for Human Resources. Phone: 734.855.3871 (office) 734.748.0676 (cell) 734.855.2473 (fax)
Email: Neil.Marchuk@trw.com

John Wilkerson, Senior Communication Manager. Phone: 734 855 3864.
Email: John.Wilkerson@trw.com



LETTER TO: Mr. John Plant, TRW CEO; Neil Marchuk, TRW Human Resources; John Wilkerson, TRW Senior Communication Manager,

SUBJECT: Urgent concern about TRW operations in Reynosa, Mexico


Dear Mr. Plant, Marchuk, Wilkerson,

We have received information that TRW insists on relocating hundreds of Mexican workers to a warehouse in Reynosa, Mexico. We understand that in order to comply with this demand, the workers would have to wait after their shift ends, from 1:45 a.m. until 5:00 a.m., because the last public transportation passes at 1:00 a.m. and the workers’ shift ends at 1:45 a.m.

We understand that TRW, a company that produces safety equipment, insists on exposing its workers, most of them young women, to unsafe conditions; forcing them to wait more than 3 hours in the early morning for transportation home. Moreover, labor conditions are worse and the salaries in the warehouse are lower than what workers were earning at another plant where some of them have worked for 20 years.

The workers are not willing to work for TRW under that circumstances and they have organized to defend their rights. The workers should be reinstated with back pay, safe working conditions and wages consistent with their seniority and living wage standards or TRW should pay them severance. In addition, TRW must respect the workers’ rights of freedom of association and collective bargaining and to respect their right to jobs by ensuring that workers are not blacklisted.

Respectfully,

YOUR NAME


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Sample letter to president Obama

Barack Obama
President of the USA
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20500
info@messages.whitehouse.gov
Dear Mr. President,

The NAFTA trade agreement has failed to meet expectations of economic growth and development. Instead, NAFTA has increased unemployment, economic instability and insecurity, poverty and environmental injustice in the three countries of North America.

Multinational corporations such as TRW, which is a US corporation based in Livonia, Michigan, have profited from, exploiting cheap labor, thanks to free trade agreements. After many years of phenomenal profits, corporations are now laying off workers. In the case of TRW in Mexico, they are laying off workers - without the severance payments that the workers are owed by law.

Trade agreements are about much more than trade. Trade agreements must have mechanisms to address and resolve the social consequences they create.

We believe that, despite the economic crisis, now is the right time to renegotiate NAFTA and address immigration reforms.

The evidence of NAFTA's failure is everywhere - people are suffering the real consequences of unregulated and irresponsible free trade policies.

We call on you to investigate and regulate multinational corporations such as TRW, which is violating workers' rights and operating with impunity in Mexico.

We also urge you to uphold your commitment to address immigration reform and renegotiate the NAFTA trade agreement immediately.

Respectfully,
YOUR NAME 

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Background
On October 26, 2009, TRW workers intercepted the Governor of Tamaulipas at the Presidential Summit celebrated in Reynosa, Tamaulipas, and gave him a letter with their demands.

Afterwards, the Workers Coalition leadership was invited by Lieutenant Governor Antonio Martínez Torres on November 18th, to meet in the capital of the state to follow up on the workers’ demands.

This meeting set a precedent because it is the first time that the government recognized an autonomous leadership representing workers outside of the CTM union, which protects the company instead of the workers. In that meeting, Pedro Arguelles, Assistant to the Secretary of the Governor, promised the workers to mediate with the company and call TRW management to negotiate with the Workers Coalition.

TRW workers waited for the government mediation to occur as promised. However, the Conciliation and Arbitration Board (CAB-Labor Department) closed in December for the holidays and did not open until after January 6.

On January 10th, workers went to their hearing at the CAB and learned that their case was pending collection of other workers’ files, in response to a petition from the company.

The Workers Coalition believed that the Labor Department was unfairly delaying the case and that the state government was failing to hold TRW accountable. Therefore, they decided to go to the state capital to demonstrate in front of government offices and demand justice.

***

TRW Automotive is a global corporation with 200 facilities in 26 countries. The headquarters are located in Livonia, Michigan, in the United States. In Mexico, TRW Automotive has 10 facilities, three of which are located in Reynosa, a Tamaulipas town that borders McAllen, Texas. The workers from the TRW Industrial Park Del Norte in Reynosa, Mexico, produce the following: Seatbelts Systems consisting of retractors, pyrotechnic retractors and buckle assemblies, height adjusters, seat-integrated restraints; and Active Control Retractor (ACR) systems, for GM, Chrysler and Ford. The workers earn $60 to $65 for a 48-hour week. Overall, TRW has 61,000 employees located in Europe, North America, South America, and Asia-Pacific.
The workers in Reynosa have been organizing since the end of March 2009, after TRW Vehicle Systems gave notice that all workers would be transferred to the TRW plant located in the Reynosa Industrial Park on the other side of town. The workers were concerned because this meant they would have to travel farther and longer and incur higher transportation expenses in order to arrive on time at the TRW facility located across town. Not only would they spend two more hours getting to work, there would also be no daycare nearby for their children. In addition, 800 workers would potentially face layoffs or displace workers already working at the other TRW Reynosa plant. So they went to the CTM union leader and confronted him about whether the union had negotiated their transfer to the other company location. The CTM union leader, Reynaldo Garza, told them there was no choice, because “The Company can do whatever they want, since they have the support of the Mexican government at the local, state and federal levels.” Since the CTM union evidently had an agreement with the company, on April 10th, 600 TRW workers decided to form the TRW Workers Coalition to defend their rights.

NAFTA Free Trade: Neoliberal policies have imposed free trade and deregulation on underdeveloped countries as the keys for development. The NAFTA free trade agreement promised more jobs, better wages and improved working conditions for everyone. But the reality is that under the NAFTA regime Mexican workers have been exploited, underpaid, forced to work overtime, and often face unsafe conditions on the job and in neighborhoods contaminated by toxic factory emissions. As result of neoliberal policies, wealth is concentrated in the hands of the few, increasing poverty and misery globally and leading the world into a financial, economic, food and environmental crisis.

Neoliberal policies and free trade provoked a severe economic collapse. Now, massive layoffs are taking place all over the world. Almost half a million workers are unemployed in the US , the labor force is pressured to accept low wages, and the rate of unemployment is the highest since the last economic depression in the US . US auto workers were blackmailed by corporate managers who lowered salaries, eliminated benefits and bought out workers. Labor’s history of winning rights and building economic stability in the US has been erased, replaced by unemployment and uncertainty.

The auto industry crisis in the US impacts the manufacturing chain’s suppliers, and now workers along the border of Mexico also are facing massive layoffs, while corporations and suppliers act with impunity when they fail to comply with Mexican labor law, including failing to guarantee severance payments.

NAFTA’s failure can’t be prolonged or extended anymore.

Trade should be regulated and corporations should respect human and labor rights, protect the environment and respect food sovereignty wherever they operate. Corporations like TRW Automotive must be held accountable to their workers.

Workers’ demands: The TRW Workers’ Coalition is demanding the following: We will accept the transfer to Reynosa industrial park if TRW provides a facility with sufficient room for the increased number of workers and safe conditions in the workplace, along with transportation, child care, and a transfer bonus. If TRW refuses to negotiate with the Workers ‘ Coalition’s transfer conditions, then TRW must guarantee severance payments according to Article 439 of the Mexican Labor Law, which states that companies must pay a month’s salary in addition to three months of severance payment and seniority. Most of the workers have 15 to 20 years seniority. They are fighting back against the company, the CTM corporate union, and the government.

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