Tell of Safety Hazards
OTTAWA, Ontario, Canada
|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
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 (Mexicos 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
Mexicos 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
Robin Alexander, UE director of international affairs, represented
the union and assisted the Mexican workers with the preparation of their testimony.