Nearly a month after being fired for asking for raises, workers at the Lexmark Plant in Juarez are getting more support from protesters in Kentucky, as well as backing from groups in three other cities.
Organizers say multi-national, simultaneous protests are planned for El Paso, Mexico City, Juarez and Lexmark’s hometown of Lexington, Kentucky. On their Facebook page, supporters of the Lexmark workers said once they found out about the workers in Juarez, they were “appalled.”
The group adds, ” We are now a few dozen Kentuckians (and growing) who are working in direct solidarity with the workers and organizers in Juarez and El Paso in a coordinated international campaign to achieve justice and collective liberation for all those subjected to Lexmark’s abuses.”
Here in El Paso, a group is scheduled to protest in front of the Mexican Consulate in Downtown; while in Mexico City, protesters will head to the Senate Office of their Chihuahuan representatives. The Juarez protest continues just in front of the Lexmark plant.
The protests have also drawn the attention of the US’s AFL/CIO – the group that oversees the 50-plus unions across America, representing more than 11 million workers nationwide.
In their most recent blog, the group points out that the complaints against Lexmark are not unique to the company and lays out their support for the workers at several other maquiladoras accused of the same abuses against their workers.
The blog entry goes on to state, “The AFL-CIO stands in solidarity with the workers at Commscope, Eaton, Foxconn, Lexmark and all of the maquiladoras in Ciudad Juárez. To improve conditions, the labor movement calls for:
- Companies to end their repressive practices, reinstate the workers who have been fired and negotiate contracts that establish living wages and decent working conditions.
- The Labor Board to order the reinstatement of workers who have been fired and grant legal registration to the unions that have requested it.
- Mexico’s federal government to intervene to ensure that events in Ciudad Juárez do not make a mockery of its proposed labor reforms before they are even enacted.
- The U.S. government, as well as state and local ones, to any review any government purchases from these suppliers that may be using U.S. taxpayer dollars to subsidize violations of labor rights.
After a mid-December news conference, the workers shared their plight with the media, leading to several fundraising efforts being started to support the workers and their families. In addition to the firings, the workers also had their annual, government-mandated bonus checks withheld.
The fired workers have continued their protest throughout the holiday season, even through the post-Christmas storm that dumped 7″ of snow on the region. Now, workers are not only hopeful, but re-energized by the increasing pressure from other groups supporting their efforts.
Organizers say the protests are slated to get underway at 2 p.m.
Then on Saturday, January 23rd at 10am at the El Paso Public Library’s Auditorium (Downtown 501 N. Oregon) the public is invited to attend a bi-national panel discussion about the maquiladora workers strike in Ciudad Juárez.
Maquiladora workers, whose wages are as low as $30/week, are organizing against low-wages, unsafe working conditions, sexual harassment and discrimination.
Attorney Susana Prieto Terazzas, representing the workers and Miriam Delgado, maquiladora worker & strike organizer, will join Dr. Oscar Martinez in a panel discussion, moderated by Dr. Kathleen Staudt, about the low-wages and poor working conditions in Juárez assembly plants
*Editor’s Note: The article has been corrected to reflect the support in Lexington comes from community members, not from Lexmark workers in Kentucky.