[Excerpts from opening presentation at the September 15-16 Conference in Tuxtla Gutierrez, Chiapas (Mexico), that launched the Mexican Organizing Committee for the Binational Conference Against NAFTA and the Wall of Shame/Deportations, and In Support of Workers’ Rights on Both Sides of the Border.]
In Mexico, the media have presented the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) as a benefit to the entire population; they have not spared any praise for the treaty. But the reality is altogether different: NAFTA has benefited only a small percentage of the population — mainly those sectors acting as representatives of transnational corporate interests in our country.
The data are clear. Since the signing of NAFTA in 1994, Mexico has lost its food sovereignty; today the country imports 40% of the grains, and the importation of meat has grown by 700%. Mexico’s countryside has been destroyed, with the best lands snatched up by the drug lords and the transnational corporations.
According to official sources, in 1994, 12.3% of the Mexican population had healthcare and retirement coverage; currently the percentage has dropped to 9.7%. Full-time jobs with benefits have been lost, replaced, only in part, by precarious jobs with no benefits. This also underscores the lie that NAFTA has created good-paying jobs. Not so.
At the same time, despite appearances, on the other side of the border the situation is no better. According to the AFL-CIO trade union federation, in the last three years alone 700,000 jobs have been lost, of which 415,000 industrial jobs, including about 150,000 jobs in electronic manufacturing and 108,000 jobs in the automotive sector. Some reports show an even greater job loss in the United States
NAFTA has been used by U.S. employers as an instrument of blackmail to reduce labor rights and wages. The forced migration of hundreds upon hundreds of thousands of Mexicans to the United States has made it possible to use this large « reserve industrial army » to reduce the costs of labor. Undocumented immigrants are part of the U.S. working class; they have no papers, are paid below the minimum wage, lack labor rights and trade union organization, and serve as scapegoats to the U.S. administrations.
NAFTA has only benefited the employers. Workers in the United States, Canada and Mexico should have no interest in maintaining this “free trade” agreement.
Organizing a Conference to Unify the Workers’ Struggles
More than 100 trade unionists, activists, youth, and organizations from both sides of the border have endorsed a call to hold a Binational Conference Against NAFTA and the Wall of Shame/Deportations, and in Support of Workers’ Rights on Both Sides of the Border. They have decided to hold a first session of the Binational Conference on December 2 at CSU-Dominguez Hills (Carson, California) and a second session in Tuxtla Gutierrez, Chiapas, Mexico, on February 3-4, 2018.
The Third National Conference of the Labor Fightback Network — held in Cleveland, Ohio, on July 21-23, 2017 — decided to support this initiative. And as a first step in implementing its resolution, the LFN Conference and its supporters promoted the August 16 Global Day of Action for the boycott of the U.S.-based Driscoll’s Corporation and in support of the agricultural workers in the San Quintin Valley of Baja California, Mexico. The LFN also called to support the boycott of the distributors of the “Vuse” e-cigarette, in support of the R.J. Reynolds farmworkers and FLOC in North Carolina.
Regarding the San Quintin struggle: The working and living conditions of the San Quintín farmworkers are a vivid example of NAFTA’s anti-worker policies. Driscoll’s and its local subsidiaries violate daily the rights of their workers and impede trade union organization by refusing to sign a collective-bargaining agreement with SINDJA, the new independent union supported by the overwhelming majority of the San Quintin workers. [See separate article on the Driscoll’s Boycott campaign in Tijuana, Mexico.]
In addition, the San Francisco Labor Council (AFL-CIO) unanimously adopted a resolution on August 14 that calls for repealing NAFTA. The resolution goes on to call for full unionization and full access to labor rights in Mexico, the United States and Canada – and it calls for building joint solidarity actions against NAFTA and against the transnational corporations.
We call on all workers and youth to support and participate in the Binational Conference, which will serve as a point of support for the struggle of workers and peoples on both sides of the border.
IN THIS Dossier:
(1) Should We Oppose or Renegotiate NAFTA? — excerpts from opening presentation at the September 15-16 Conference in Tuxtla Gutierrez, Chiapas (Mexico), that launched the Mexican Organizing Committee for the Binational Conference Against NAFTA and the Wall of Shame/Deportations, and In Support of Workers’ Rights on Both Sides of the Border.
(2) Boycott Driscoll’s Global Day of Action in Tijuana (Mexico)
(3) NAFTA Negotiators Seek to Enshrine Mexico’s Energy Reforms — excerpts from Reuters Business News
(4) Attachment: Call to Support FLOC Campaign in North Carolina