Monday, December 27, 2010

TRW Workers Struggle

At the end of January 2010, TRW workers traveled eight hours to demonstrate in the capital of Tamaulipas in support of their case. 
CJM members sent letters to President Calderón calling his attention to the TRW workers struggle and the failure of NAFTA. On February 3 and 5, TRW workers demonstrated in front of the Labor Department of Reynosa demanding that the Attorney General enforce the labor law. As a result, on February 10, the Labor Department gave the workers a document on government letterhead recognizing the TRW Workers’ Coalition as the workers’ representative instead of the CTM official union. This was a major accomplishment in their struggle, setting an historic precedent in workers’ struggles for labor rights in the maquiladora industry on the northern border of Mexico.

On April 13 and 15, TRW workers demonstrated in front of the company facility and in front of the Reynosa Labor Department, demanding accountability from the TRW Corporation and from the labor board.
On May Day, the TRW Workers Coalition organized an Independent March for Jobs and Justice. The CTM union and police tried to stop them from marching, but despite harassment and blocked streets, the workers were able to get on stage, where they confronted the authorities and ghost unions who were proudly announcing the re-opening of the TRW plant with new workers at the lowest wages and no benefits. The TRW Workers’ Coalition exposed them and demanded jobs with justice, enforcement of labor law, and accountability by the TRW corporation.

In July TRW workers mobilized and called for a final push in support of their legal case. CJM Action Committee members, the San Diego Maquiladora Workers’ Solidarity Network, and TRW workers organized a “phone blast” campaign targeting TRW headquarters and Mexican labor authorities on August 9, 2010. TRW headquarters management responded to CJM members with falsehoods, but as a result of the insistent phone calls, the CAB (labor board) President declared “I want to end this case as soon as possible because of the intensive mobilizations.” CJM and TRW workers organized the first Vigil and Press Conference for Justice on the border on August 28. The Vigil and a mass were held at the Guadalupe Parish in Reynosa, Mexico, preceded by a press conference. The workers made the following declarations to the media… “We, the TRW Workers’ Coalition, have been resisting the TRW Corporation’s abuse for more than a year and a half in a labor dispute.

Despite all the obstacles that we have faced, despite the corruption and impunity of the company, the government and the CTM union, we still believe in justice. Olga, a TRW Worker said, “We have been denied justice through the impunity of the TRW Company and through the corruption of our government that allows multinationals like TRW to exploit workers.” “It is time to get justice back!” TRW worker Ernesto Lizcano declared. “We challenge to to respect workers’ rights.
TRW is a global corporation that is increasing poverty in our country with its unethical practices and impunity. Justice belongs to us and it’s time to claim it--we are looking forward to a resolution with justice from the labor board!” said TRW worker Gumersinda de la Cruz.
While the workers were in the middle of the press conference affirming their claim to the right to work, suddenly bullets and explosions from a battle between cartels broke out in the main plaza. Workers ran through the gunfire into the church where Father Leopoldo González from Reynosa welcomed the workers and celebrated the mass and vigil for justice and against violence.
On September 31 the CAB absolved the TRW Corporation of any responsibility in the case. However, the President of the labor board declared to the media that the workers had the right to appeal the resolution. On October 27, while TRW workers were still preparing their appeal to the Supreme Court, Aristeo Mejía, a young TRW worker, c o mmitted suicide in desperation because of his lack of employment. Aristeo was blacklisted by the company and could not endure the impunity of the corporation and the complicity of the management-friendly union and the government in dragging out the legal case.
His death is an example of the desperation that workers are facing around the world. On October 30 the TRW workers presented the appeal to the Supreme Court.
On November 2 the workers celebrated the Day of the Dead with a march carrying a coffin and protesting against the labor department resolution. In the main plaza, they conducted a symbolic burying of impunity, corruption and complicity of the government, union and TRW Corporation. TRW workers are still waiting for the Supreme Court decision on their case.
TRW Automotive is a multinational corporation based in Livonia, Michigan. The company produces seatbelts for auto industry companies from the US, Canada, Europe
and Asia. The workers of the TRW plant located in Del Norte Industrial Park of Reynosa, Mexico, have been organizing since spring 2009.
The Coalition for Justice in the Maquiladoras has supported these workers’ efforts. In March 2009, TRW management in Reynosa, Mexico transferred 600 workers to another TRW facility located at the other side of the city.
In the TRW plant where they were to be relocated, the collective contract has lower salaries and labor conditions that are poor compared to the previous facility. In addition, the facility does not have enough space to relocate assembly lines for 600 workers. The workers also have to travel two more hours to work, taking three different routes and investing forty percent of their salaries to arrive on time at the factory. Furthermore, the workers would have to wait for transportation after the night shift ends, from 1:45 a.m. until 5:00 a.m., because the last public transportation leaves at 1:00 a.m. and the workers’ shift ends at 1: 45 am. It is unacceptable that TRW, a plant that produces safety equipment, should expose its workers, most of them young women, to unsafe condition including forcing them to wait more than 3 hours in the early morning for transportation home.
The CTM union that holds the contract with TRW agreed to the relocation without taking into account the conditions mentioned above and without informing the workers. Due to the complicity of the CTM union and the company, the workers formed a Workers Coalition, in keeping with Mexican Labor law, to negotiate the relocation. TRW unjustifiably fired the members of the Coalition and circulated a blacklist of the workers, violating their right to jobs, to freedom of association and to collective bargaining, as established in the Labor Law and in the Mexican Constitution. TRW argued that they are justified because of the economic crisis, and that they have the support of the CTM union and the local, state, and federal government’s authority to fire the workers without severance payments.
Jaime Ernesto Lizcano, a TRW worker, traveled to Livonia, Michigan, to meet with TRW executives on Mexico Independence Day, September 16th, 2009, but instead of meeting with him, TRW management called the police to arrest Ernesto as well as CJM members and allies.
Ernesto traveled through the US and Canada to gain support for workers, some of whom have 15 to 20 years seniority, while TRW argues that they are troublemakers. What they are doing is simply demanding justice.

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