Return from Mexico
The visit to an Otis Elevator plant in Mexico was an
eye-opening experience for Rich Drylie, a mechanic employed by metal salvage
company in Erie, Pa. The clean, modern plant produces elevator cabs through
Drylie, the president of amalgamated Local 683, traveled to Mexico in June along with Local
791 Pres. Sherri Nelson and Al Harhay of Local 1111 as part of the
worker-to-worker exchange program sponsored by UE and Mexicos Authentic Labor Front
The living and working conditions enjoyed by the FAT-represented Otis workers were
contrasted with the raw poverty Drylie encountered on Mexican streets. "Youd
see kids running around without clothes, filthy, and not by choice. All of sudden the U.S.
and dreary Erie didnt seem so bad," he said.
If shocked by the poverty, Drylie was also surprised by the hostility towards NAFTA
expressed by FAT members from a worker-owned glass factory, textile mills and Otis
Elevator and by community activists. "Developed nations like ours are taking
advantage of their assembly labor," he told the UE NEWS.
"Its important to stay solid with the FAT," Drylie told a recent
District Six Council meeting. His local supports the FAT financially.
The movement of jobs across borders should be countered with trade union organizing,
not met with "prejudice and ignorance," agreed Nelson.
In discussions with Mexican unionists and members of a 15-strong delegation from
Quebec, the Ohio Turnpike worker discovered that workers both north and south of the
border are losing their jobs. Mexican textile workers are threatened with loss of jobs to
China, for example. "The threat is always moving to the cheaper place," Nelson
"We have to fight to get everybodys wages up," she said.
"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."
The Local 791 president was struck by how similar the problems of working people are,
regardless of nationality. "Its as if supervisors are all cut out of the same
mold," she said.
We win when we build solidarity," Harhay insisted. "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."