Info on Maquilas

TRW Workers need your support for the "final push" on Aug 9

Coalition for Justice in the Maquiladoras



On August 9, a hearing is scheduled that is the last step in the legal process of the TRW workers’ struggle. Without public pressure, the company’s lawyer could succeed at postponing the hearing once again. In the past, he has done so by asserting that the company witness is sick and therefore not available to appear. As evidence, he provides notes from a massage and therapy center.

After the August 9 hearing, the President of the labor board will have one month to review the case and issue a decision. The workers will win the case from a legal standpoint, but the TRW company could take one of the following steps to subvert justice:

Pressure the President of the labor board to rule in favor of the company.

Insist that the CTM Union President Reynaldo Garza mediate with the labor board President, thus allowing her to rule in favor of the company.

The hearing and its aftermath will be a crucial time for the w

 orkers legal case. They are prepared to mobilize to protest the company’s persistent impunity.

Call TRW headquarters on August 9th and demand that TRW management in Reynosa reinstate the workers or give them their severance payments. John C. Plant, President and Chief Executive Officer TRW Automotive. Phone: 734.855.2600,and Neil Marchuk Exec. VP for Human Resources. Phone: 734.855.3871 (office) 734.748.0676 (cell)

Call TRW management in Reynosa, Mexico, demanding they accept their responsibility toward the TRW workers. Hector Mendoza TRW Manager (011) (52) 899 909 7000

Call the president of the labor board in Reynosa, Mexico, and tell her that we are closely following her words and actions in the TRW workers’ case. Adriana Garza (011) (52) 899 924 2306

Send a letter to TRW’s CEO demanding the Reynosa TRW workers be reinstated or their severance be paid. (sample letter below)

Write a letter to President Obama telling him: “NAFTA is a failure. We call for an end to so-called Free Trade that exploits workers and increases poverty and immigration.” “We Want Jobs with Justice.” “We oppose SB 1070.” (sample below)

Write a letter to the International Labor Organization’s Freedom of Association Committee, expressing your support for the maquiladora workers’ petition presented by the Telephone Workers Union (STRM) on CJM’s behalf on February 22, 2010. (sample below)

Support CJM and TRW workers by sending a financial contribution to CJM (your donation is tax deductible).

Support CJM by promoting the book NAFTA from Below in your community.



Background: The management-friendly CTM Union President Reynaldo Garza ran as a PRI candidate to serve in the congress of Tamaulipas state. This was an award given in exchange for not defending workers in the region, especially the TRW workers.

The CTM union leader shared the slate with the PRI candidate for governor, who was murdered by organized crime two days before the July 4, 2010 election. Tthe PRI appointed the candidate’s brother to replace him and the election took place. Both won by default. People were terrorized and voter turnout was very low.

On July 16, the CTM union leader, Reynaldo Garza, using his influence as an elected representative of the state Congress, met for more than an hour behind closed doors with the President of the labor board. Workers learned afterwards that the CTM leader was mediating on behalf of the TRW company.

On behalf of the TRW Company, the CTM union lawyer offered the TRW workers 90 days salary as severance, a minimal amount to settle the case. The workers insisted on reinstatement with a year’s back pay, because that is how long the case has been delayed at the labor board by the company lawyer. Alternatively, the workers will accetpt full severance, which includes 12 days of salary for every year of seniority, 20 days of salary for every day of seniority since the company refused to reinstated them, plus 90 days of severance salary that TRW owes for the unjustifiable firings. The workers’ average seniority is between 15 and 20 years.

The TRW lawyer has been delaying the legal process. His tactic is to present excuses that his witness is on medical leave. Excuses are provided by a doctor from a massage and therapy center in Reynosa.

Due the impunity of the TRW management and the complicity of the CTM union, the TRW Corporation, and the labor authorities, on May Day the TRW workers circulated a press release exposing TRW and government corruption. Both were proudly announcing that TRW will open the Reynosa facility and hire new workers, but at lower salaries, with no benefits and without paying the severance payments to 600 workers who were relocated last year to a warehouse. The workers called for an independent march demanding Jobs with Justice. On June 7, the TRW workers challenged the TRW management, the government and the CTM union leaders to a public debate in the main plaza. None showed up. On June 9, TRW workers organized a press conference denouncing TRW for blacklisting them and demanding their rights:

Other factors: The confrontation between the cartels and the army in the cities of Laredo, Reynosa, Valle Hermoso and Matamoros has provoked a curfew controlled by organized crime. Workers and families are not allowed to be on the streets after 8:00 p.m. Many have been kidnapped, cars have been stolen and many innocent victims have died in the confrontations. Panic and terror are taking over the cities.

In addition, hurricane Alex and tropical storm Bonnie hit Matamoros, Reynosa and Laredo, the dams of La Amistad and Falcon released their waters and the Rio Grande, Rio Salado and many creeks nearby rose to flood levels. Many workers lost the few things they had when their houses were flooded.

The TRW workers are facing the impunity of TRW, the corruption of the government, labor authorities and the CTM union, and natural disasters provoked by Mother Nature as well.


Send letters to TRW headquarters, President Obama and the ILO supporting TRW workers (sample letters below) Please send a copy of your letters to CJM at:, and

Send TRW message to:

-John C. Plant, President and Chief Executive Officer TRW Automotive. Phone: 734.855.2600. Email:

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

-John Wilkerson, Senior Communication Manager. Phone: 734 855 3864. Email:

Sample letter to John C. Plant:

John C. Plant,
President and Chief Executive Officer
TRW Automotive
Livonia, Michigan

Dear Mr. Plant,

We are writing to express our concern that, while TRW is proudly announcing its growing business and profits in Asia, especially in China, in Mexico it is violating workers’ human and labor rights.

The TRW workers case in Reynosa, Mexico, has been included in a complaint presented to the ILO Freedom of Association Committee in Mexico City on February 22, 2010, detailing the company’s violation of ILO Conventions 87, 98, 111, and 154 related to the right to freedom of association, collective bargaining and the right to work.

TRW’s practices in Reynosa also violate Articles 19, 20, 22, and 23 of the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which refer to the right to work, to freedom of association and expression, and to collective bargaining.

TRW workers in Reynosa have been demanding their reinstatement at the facility and under the same conditions at which they were working, many for 15 to 20 years. TRW management did not respond to the workers’ demands. Instead, they argued that the workers had to be relocated because of the lack of business due to the economic crisis. Mexican labor law establishes a process to follow in cases of reduced market demand. However, instead of following this process, TRW management agreed with the CTM union, which was not democratically elected, to relocate workers to a warehouse on the other side of the city where unsafe conditions prevail. The 600 workers who are seeking to defend their rights are well aware that there is not enough space for them in this small warehouse, that salaries are lower, and that they would have to wait from 1:00 am to 5:00 am outside the factory for bus transportation home after their shifts. To address these concerns, the workers formed the TRW Workers Coalition to negotiate their relocation with the local management. The Workers Coalition has been formally recognized by the Mexican labor authorities, yet TRW local management refuses to negotiate with them.

More than 300 workers presented a labor complaint, but TRW management has failed to appear for hearings, offering dubious medical excuses from a massage therapy center as the reason they cannot appear. This lack of accountability on the part of TRW is outrageous.

We urge you to reinstate the workers immediately or pay them the severance payments and back pay that are owed to them by Mexican Labor Law.

We will continue to monitor the situation at the Del Norte Industrial Park of Reynosa and ask President Obama to investigate the practices and conduct of TRW and to hold the company accountable. We will also continue to educate consumers about TRW's failure to respect workers' human and labor rights.


Sample letter to President Obama

President Barack Obama
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20500
Phone: 202-456-111, 202-456-1414,
Fax 202 456-2461

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 the NAFTA free trade agreement. 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.

Corporate exploitation of cheap labor under NAFTA has increased the number of migrants who seek a better life in the U.S. The partially-blocked SB 1070 law in Arizona legitimizes discrimination against those migrants. Almost 400,000 people have been deported during your administration, increasing family separations and spreading fear among immigrant communities.

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.


Sample letter to the International Labor Organization (ILO)
Thomas Wissing
International Labor Organization
Funcionario de Programas
Technical Cooperation
Darwin 31, Col Anzures
11590, Mexico City, Mexico

Dear Mr. Wissing,

I am writing to support the petition presented by the Telephone Workers of Mexico on February 22, 2010, related to a compilation of cases of violations of the right to freedom of association and collective bargaining in the maquiladora industry in Mexico.

I also would like to express my continued concern about TRW workers in Reynosa, Mexico, who formed a worker’s coalition to negotiate conditions regarding their relocation.

TRW unjustifiably fired the leadership of the workers’ coalition and blacklisted the workers who are members of the coalition. Furthermore, the CTM union has been imposed on the workers in Reynosa; they never had any union election and were obliged to affiliate.

The workers formed the coalition because the CTM union leader Reynaldo Garza told them that that they cannot defend their rights because TRW has the support of the three levels of government, local, state and federal, and therefore TRW can do whatever it wants.

The workers presented a complaint to the Conciliation and Arbitration Board, but the company succeeded in postponing hearing dates by presenting dubious medical excuses from a massage therapy center. The President of the Conciliation Board has accepted these excuses. The workers’ lawyer presented expert evidence to support their case. Now, the President of the Conciliation and Arbitration Board has informed the workers that the evidence was lost. I am concerned about what appears to be complicity between the company and the Conciliation Board.

The TRW workers’ rights to work, to freedom of association, and to collective bargaining have been violated. This is one more case among many in the long list of violations of workers’ rights in Mexico.

We urge the International Labor Organization to address these urgent cases and restore workers’ rights.



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 global 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 is a failure and it cannot be prolonged 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 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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