Mexico: union wins at Puebla maquila

On Nov. 23 the workers at the Vaqueros Navarra jeans plant in Tehuacan, in the Mexican state of Puebla, voted to be represented by the September 19 Union, which is affiliated with the independent Authentic Labor Front (FAT). The vote was 263 for the September 19 Union, 187 for the Revolutionary Confederation of Workers of Mexico (CROM) and just three for the Revolutionary Confederation of Workers and Campesinos (CROC). The CROM and the CROC are both connected to the centrist Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI), the party that ruled Mexico from 1929 to 2000 and continues to dominate politics in Puebla; the CROC was the officially recognized union at the plant before the vote.

Vaqueros Navarra is one of a number of maquiladoras that produce jeans in Tehuacan; the clients include American Eagle Outfitters, Gap, Warnaco, Tommy Hilfiger, Guess and Dickies. Gaining recognition for independent unions has been exceptionally difficult in Mexico’s maquiladora sector. At Vaqueros Navarra, the workers, largely indigenous women, began organizing in the spring. September 19 supporters were subjected to harassment, threats and illegal dismissals. Organizers say solidarity from Mexican and international groups—including the Human and Labor Rights Commission of the Tehuacan Valley (CDHL) and such North American unions as the United Electrical Workers (UE), the AFL-CIO and UNITE-HERE!—was an important part of the victory. The Toronto-based Mexico Solidarity Network (MSN) coordinated a campaign that led six of Star’s North American clients to write to the Mexican labor authorities calling for a free and fair vote. (Mexican Labor News and Analysis, November 2007)

On Nov. 29 the Supreme Court of Justice of the Nation (SCJN) voted six to four to reject a lawsuit filed by Lidia Cacho Ribeiro, a Cancun journalist and activist, against Puebla’s PRI governor, Mario Plutarco Marin Torres, for human rights violations. Cacho was imprisoned briefly in Puebla in December 2005 after she published a book linking Puebla garment manufacturer Kamel Nacif Borge to a Cancun pedophile ring. Nacif is a friend of Gov. Marin Torres. Cacho says she will take her case to the Inter-American Human Rights Court (CIDH). (La Jornada, Nov. 30)

From Weekly News Update on the Americas, Dec. 9

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