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Mexican Workers
Tell of Safety Hazards

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OTTAWA, Ontario, Canada

Clark, Vasquez, Navarro and Rubio  
UE Genl. Sec.-Treas. Bob Clark with the three Itapsa workers who attended both Canadian hearings. From left, Eugenio Nájera Vasquez, María Trinidad Delgado Navarro and Rubén Ruiz Rubio. Clark represented the U.S. unions in the Dana Workers’ Alliance at the September hearing.

Three workers from the Itapsa factory in Mexico City, all fired for their union-organizing activities, testified at a hearing here on Nov. 5 about the safety and health risks at their former workplace.

Itapsa is a U.S. owned plant, recently purchased by the Ohio-based Dana Corporation from Echlin a company based in Connecticut. The UE-initiated Dana Workers’ Alliance — a coalition of 11 unions from all three NAFTA countries which represent Dana workers — brought a complaint originally against Echlin and the Mexican government under the labor side agreement to the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).

This case is the first ever to be presented in Canada before the National Administration Office (NAO) created by the NAFTA labor side agreement. UE Genl. Sec.-Treas. Bob Clark represented the U.S. unions in the Dana Workers’ Alliance at an earlier hearing Sept. 14. That hearing dealt with the illegal interference by the company, CTM (Mexico’s largest official union federation), and Mexican labor board in the workers’ efforts to organize an independent union.

A video and the expert testimony of a Canadian industrial hygienist and Mexico’s foremost toxicologist bolstered the strong, vivid testimony of the workers themselves. They cited the lack of warning labels in Spanish, a malfunctioning ventilation system, lack of guards on machines, lack of training, lack of proper protective equipment.

Dana brought an army of attorneys, company officials and a few health experts — but not a single witness from Mexico — in an attempt to prove that the new owner had cleaned up the plant and that the problems described by the petitioners were greatly exaggerated.

Robin Alexander, UE director of international affairs, represented the union and assisted the Mexican workers with the preparation of their testimony.

UE News - 11/98

Home -> UE News -> 1998 Archives -> Article

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