June 27, 2014
By Marc Bussanich
The Left Labor Project and The Murphy Institute invited Benedicto Martinez Orozco and Imelda Tovar Morales, both with the Authentic Workers’ Front, to the city to speak about how Mexican workers are fairing in Mexico’s economy. They will be both speaking on Thursday at the Murphy Institute offices on 25 West 43rd Street.
We asked both leaders how are working conditions right now in Mexico. Mr. Orozco said conditions are getting more difficult.
“The conditions are going from more to less. We’re losing our salaries, our jobs and there is a strong attack against democratic unions. So these conditions are not very positive for workers, but it’s a struggle that we are fighting everyday,” said Orozco through an interpreter.
Many of the world’s biggest corporations have operations in Mexico, particularly manufacturing. Some of those corporations include automakers such as General Motors, Ford, Honda, Nissan, Toyota and Volkswagen. In fact, USA Today reportedin February that Mexico is on track to overtake Japan and Canada as the United States’ main source of imported cars by the end of next year.
Mr. Orozco said that many members in the AWF work for some of these automobile manufacturers.
“Right now in Mexico, the majority of automobile brands are established in Mexico.
Unfortunately, they are not paying living wages, thereby preventing Mexican workers from purchasing the very cars they are producing.
“The majority of automobiles Mexicans cannot buy because they aren’t paying good wages. They pay a little bit better than other jobs, but they don’t allow people to make a good living,” said Orozco.
He noted that the daily wage in the industry is about 150 pesos per day, which equals about $15 in wages per day.
We asked Orozco, as he meets with some of New York City’s labor unions, how can the American labor movement support Mexican workers.
“We’ve been working together for 20 years since NAFTA [North American Trade Pact] trying to build solidarity. We’ve seen that since NAFTA, the only winners have been the big transnational companies. We’ve been encouraged by recent May Day celebrations in the United States, but we still need to grow and intensify our work.”