WHC-HY: WE ARE MAKING A DIFFERENCE! (fwd)

P. Myers (mpwr@u.washington.edu)
Mon, 15 Jun 1998 11:21:05 -0700 (PDT)


A grassroots Net community *can make a difference! =20

what do others think of this?  Pat Myers
---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Thu, 11 Jun 98 18:21:58 -0000
From: Western Hemisphere Conference <theorganizer@labornet.org>
To: "undisclosed-recipients:;"@u.washington.edu
Subject: WHC-HY: WE ARE MAKING A DIFFERENCE!

June 11, 1998

Dear Sisters and Brothers:

Our campaign in support of the striking Han Young workers in Tijuana is
making a difference. In today's issue of the San Francisco Chronicle [see
below], there's an editorial titled "Justice for Mexican Workers" which
calls on the Clinton administration to "vigorously support the Han Young
strikers and work to ensure that all future international trade pacts have
strong, enforceable labor and environmental protections -- unlike NAFTA."=
=20

The Chronicle is no friend of labor. Only weeks ago it endorsed Prop 226,
which would have dealt the California labor movement a deadly blow.
It is a strong supporter of so-called "free trade" and has enthusiastically
backed NAFTA and the Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA). Veterans in
the San Francisco labor movement cannot remember a single time when the
Chronicle supported a strike in this city. In fact, the Chronicle owners
brought in a vicious union-busting law firm, hired goons and scabs in their
attempt to break a powerful strike by the 2600 Chronicle/Examiner workers
in November 1994.

But the Chronicle editorialists, reflecting a growing concern within the ru=
ling
circles in this country, are worried that if something is not done to settl=
e
the strike at Han Young, the whole edifice of NAFTA and FTAA could come tum=
bling
down. They are aware that the Han Young workers' struggle for an independen=
t
union played an important part in derailing Fast Track last fall -- and the=
y
don't want to see this repeated when Clinton again seeks Fast Track authori=
ty
to promote the extension of NAFTA, as he vowed he would do last April in
Santiago, Chile.

This very point was made in a different form in another Chronicle editorial=
,
published on April 21, immediately following the Summit of the Americas in
Santiago. The editorial writers explicitly urged Clinton to "mollify" the
labor and environmental movements if he was to secure a victory in promotin=
g
the extension of NAFTA to the rest of the hemisphere. They wrote:

"Farm groups who played a role in blocking Fast Track will be joined by
environmental and labor organizations angry that free trade might increase
pollution and lead to lost factory jobs. These groups must be mollified.
Clinton needs to confront these issues to win a victory, not shy away."

The more than 1000 trade unionists, environmentalists and political activis=
ts
who met in Santiago at a parallel People's Summit rejected NAFTA and the
other free trade pacts promoted by the Clinton administration. The consensu=
s at
the People's Summit was that most people in the continent believe NAFTA,
Mercosur and the other pacts have deepened the destruction of the environme=
nt
and devastated workers by eliminating jobs, lowering wages and working
conditions, fueling child labor and sweatshops, and breaking trade unions.

These activists -- just like the fighting Han Young workers -- don't want t=
o be
"mollified." They want enforceable national laws guaranteeing the right to =
form
independent unions and banning child labor. They want decent jobs for all
at a living wage. They want stringent environmental protections. They want
land for the rural workers and peasants, and housing for the homeless. And =
they
understand that these basic demands are incompatible with the "free trade" =
agenda
of the multinational corporations and the governments and financial institu=
tions
in their service.

That is why our task in this country, more than ever, is to support the str=
uggle
for independent unions by the Han Young workers, the struggle for land by t=
he
rural workers movement in Brazil, or the struggle for public housing by the
homeless in Buin, Chile. Their struggles are our struggles.

Whatever the intentions of its authors, the editorial in the June 11 Chroni=
cle
can provide our support campaign with a useful tool to deepen our solidarit=
y
efforts on behalf of the striking Han Young workers. Let us circulate it wi=
dely
and use it to build a broader base of support for these courageous strikers=
=2E

We call on residents in the San Francisco Bay Area to help raise the profil=
e
of the Han Young workers=B9 strike and all it represents -- NAFTA's failure=
,
Mexico's corrupt labor policies, etc. -- by responding to this editorial in
today's Chronicle.  Letters to the editor should be 250 words or less. They
must include name, mailing address and telephone number. fax to 415-543-770=
8
and/or email chronletters@sfgate.com.

In Solidarity,

Ed Rosario
Alan Benjamin
Western Hemisphere Workers Conference
Continuations Committee

*****************************************************************


Justice for Mexican Workers

Thursday, June 11, 1998


A BITTER STRIKE at a Tijuana truck parts plant marks a crisis point for
organized labor in Mexico, where unions traditionally have been controlled =
by
the government.

About 100 workers at the Han Young factory, who weld truck chassis for Hyun=
dai
Corp., walked off the job last month after the plant's Korean management an=
d a
Tijuana labor board refused to negotiate with an independent union chosen b=
y
the employees.

The workers have voted twice to be represented by the Union of Workers in t=
he
Steel, Metal, Iron and Connected Industries, the first independent union am=
ong
the 2,900 Mexican assembly plants near the U.S. border known as
``maquiladoras.''

Han Young management claims the striking workers are already represented by
the Confederation of Mexican Workers, or CTM, a union generally regarded as=
 a
corrupt organ of the ruling Institutional Revolutionary Party.

The Tijuana strike has broad implications because management's refusal to
bargain with the independent union flies in the face of Mexico's promises
under the North American Free Trade Agreement to respect workers' legal
rights, including the right to select their unions.

Blatant violations of Mexico's labor laws and toothless NAFTA regulations
could undermine confidence in the 1994 agreement to advance free trade amon=
g
Mexico, the United States and Canada.

NAFTA critics say Mexico encourages multinational corporations to take
advantage of lax enforcement of labor laws, while low-skilled American work=
ers
along the border are being pressed to give up benefits to compete with
underpaid Mexicans. As a friend of labor, the Clinton administration should
vigorously support the Han Young strikers and work to ensure that all futur=
e
international trade pacts have strong, enforceable labor and environmental
protections -- unlike NAFTA.