Auto Uprisings Down South: The 2019 Mexican Auto Workers Strike

by Vins

An estimated 70,000 workers are on strike in Matamoros, Mexico, according to reports by the Guardian, Labor Notes, and the World Socialist Forum website, among other independent news outlets. The female-led movement protests the failed delivery of a wage increase promised by President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador. In addition to better wages, protesters seek new leadership within the labor union. The impact goes beyond Mexico’s borders. Factories at which workers no longer regularly clock in are branches of US-owned automotive companies. As a result, autos produced for US markets are at risk.

Workers are demanding a twenty percent raise and an annual $32,000 peso bonus ($1,573 USD) for an improved quality of life. As of February, a total of 48 factories have conceded to striking workers’ demands. The current administration has not intervened to end protests, which encourages citizens to engage. Attorney and champion of the movement Susana Preto Terrazas live streams interviews with protestors through Facebook Live to reach an online audience of more than 75,000 people. The success seen in Matamoros is inspiring neighboring towns to do the same. Amendments made to the North American Free Trade Agreement go in effect in May, allowing workers to elect union leaders.

As of March 22, 2019, the Wall Street Journal, the San Antonio Express-News, and VOA News have also published occasional articles covering the strike. If union leaders elected in May increase wages, the story is likely to emerge again. The cost of doing business in Mexico might increase which, could have implications for US markets and consumers.

Sources:

David Agren, “‘We Won’t Be Trampled on’: Striking Mexican Workers Vow to Fight the Fight,” The Guardian, February 17, 2019, www.theguardian.com/world/2019/feb/17/mexico-matamoros-strike-union-jobs.

Alex González, “Wave of Walkouts in Matamoros, Mexico Builds toward General Strike,”  World Socialist Web Site, February 7, 2019, https://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2019/02/07/mata-f07.html.

Paolo Marinaro and Dan DiMaggio, “Strike Wave Wins Raises for Mexican Factory Workers.” Labor Notes, February 27, 2019, labornotes.org/2019/02/strike-wave-wins-raises-mexican-factory-workers.

“Workers In The Mexican City Of Matamoros Strike For Higher Pay – And Win.” Texas Standard, February 6, 2019, www.texasstandard.org/stories/workers-in-the-mexican-city-of-matamoros-strike-for-higher-pay-and-win/.

Student Researcher: August Roberts (University of Vermont)

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