Sherri Nelson, Local 791, Rich Drylie, Local 683, and Al Harhay, Local 1111 traveled to Mexico in June as part of a delegation cited by the resolution. (Drylie was unable to attend the convention, but Nelson read his statement.) Their experiences affirmed for them the importance of international solidarity.
Their visit coincided with that of a 15-strong delegation from Quebec, reported Nelson and Harhay. "It is one of the most profound cultural, political and socio-economic lessons I have ever learned or experienced," Drylie said in his letter.
The trip was "very much a learning experience," with lessons learned from both Mexican and Quιbιcois trade unionists, Nelson said; "we all have the same darn problems." She discovered that jobs lost from Canada and the United States to Mexico are being moved to China and South America.
"So we have to do what we can," Nelson declared. "We cant meet this with prejudice and ignorance." Foreign workers arent at fault for job loss. "We have to fight to get everybodys wages up. Thats the only way we can combat the bosses and the corporations, to make all of us have decent living wages, decent benefits and decent working conditions."
Harhay agreed. Despite language and cultural differences and varied work experiences, "what we found were amazing similarities. It is obvious that the borders, industries and language mean nothing to the bosses. Their unifying factor is greed."
Bosses prevail by keeping us divided, Harhay observed. "When and only when all working people stand together will we achieve a fair return on our labors and a decent life for our families," he declared.
In Drylies letter, he reported proudly that Local 683 had decided to pledge $50 to the UE-FAT Solidarity Fund. "This is not a great deal of financial support, but it would be my hope to have Local 683 be the catalyst for other locals." Cross-border learning experiences dont finance themselves, he said.
Delegates also heard from two young organizers from CETLAC, the workers center sponsored by UE and the FAT in the border city of Juarez. Perla Martinez and Alex Perez both attended the UE organizers school in Milwaukee.
Workers in the foreign-owned plants in Juarez know very little about their rights, said Perez. Educating workers is CETLACs main job. "Many of these maquila plants in Juarez are plants that have closed their doors in the United States, in many cases throwing out unions such as the UE," Perez said. "If they go to Mexico thinking that theyll be free of unions, Im going to tell you that its not the case. In Mexico, were going to do everything we can, working with you, to organize these plants!"
Home About UE Organize! Independent Unions
Search Site Guide What's New Contact UE