J. Alonzo Ugarte 0

Mexican factory operated by the U.S.-based company

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Dear Mr. President, We are writing to call your attention to a serious case of labor violations at a Mexican factory operated by the U.S.-based company TRW Automotive. Unfortunately, this is only one of many cases that the Coalition for Justice in the Maquiladoras (CJM) has documented since NAFTA's implementation in 1994. CJM is dedicated to supporting workers and their families as they struggle for respect for basic human rights - a living wage, safe working conditions, job security and the right to organize. TRW Automotive employs 61,000 workers in 200 facilities in 26 countries; its headquarters is located in Livonia, Michigan, IN, United States. In Mexico, TRW Automotive has 10 facilities, three of which are located in Reynosa, across the border from McAllen, Texas. The workers from the TRW Industrial Park Del Norte in Reynosa, Mexico, produce seatbelts and other automotive safety equipment for GM, Chrysler and Ford. The workers in Reynosa began organizing in March 2009 after TRW Vehicle Systems gave notice that the workers would be transferred to the TRW plant located in the Reynosa Industrial Park on the other side of town. For the workers, this meant two extra hours commute to work, as well as higher transportation costs. Poverty wages at the plant of $60 to $65 for a 48-hour week do not cover basic living expenses. Moreover, workers who drop their children at daycare would be hours away from them, should there be an accident or illness. In addition, the 800 workers would potentially face layoffs or displace workers already working at the TRW Reynosa plant, where there is not adequate room for the extra workers. The workers first questioned the Confederacion de Trabajadores Mexicanos (CTM) union leader 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 it wants, since it has the support of the Mexican government at the local, state and federal levels." Given the CTM union representative's failure to stand up for the workers' interests, on April 10th, 600 TRW workers decided to form the TRW Workers Coalition to defend their rights. Since then, the company has fired the leadership of the TRW Workers' Coalition and refused to comply with Mexican law, which requires that a transfer of workers be preceded by a process of negotiation through the Conciliation and Arbitration Board. We urge you, Mr. President, to open an inquiry into practices at the TRW factory in Reynosa, and to investigate the six other major cases of labor rights violations in Mexican factories operated by U.S. or international corporations with U.S. ties that CJM has documented: Sony, Custom Trim, Han Young, Duro, Lajat and Key Safety Systems. These cases make clear the failure of NAFTA to respect workers' rights, and argue for the need to put people and human rights first in all U.S. government policies, including those regulating trade. We look forward to your reply concerning the pattern of abuses of labor rights, as well as threats to public health and the environment, food sovereignty and economic stability that NAFTA represents for millions of people in Mexico, Canada and the U.S. We call on you to use your authority to guarantee respect for the human rights of all people who are impacted by the unjust NAFTA regime, and especially for those maquiladora workers who produce goods for U.S. consumers under appalling conditions. Sincerely,


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