Comité Fronterizo
de Obrer@s

CFO

For the labor rights and all human rights of the maquiladora workers

 
   
   
   
Spanish Version
   
   

 

   
   

Going To The Top
Maquila laborer talks issues with GM brass

The Monitor, McAllen, Texas
Monday, June 23, 1997

By Jeanne Russell

RIO BRAVO – Margarita del Angel may live humbly, but she recently acquired a sophisticated understanding of global market forces.

The Rio Bravo resident went from her two-room wooden house to a conference room at one of the world’s largest industrial corporations. Del Angel, a maquiladora factory floor worker, traveled by plane on May 23 to Wilmington, Del., to speak at the General Motors annual shareholders meeting. Del Angel have never been to el otro lado, (the U.S side), not even as far into Texas as McAllen.

“I imagined ‘over there’ would be like here,” she said. “But here, it’s very disorganized. We don’t have running water in the house, or electricity.”

Del Angel was struck by the elegance of the deluxe hotel, and by the abundance of trees and parks in Delaware. Yet what impressed her most was the attentive manner of John Smith, who is GM’s president and chief executive officer. Del Angel, met privately with Smith, and weeks later, recalled how closely he listened as she discussed various issues about the Reynosa maquiladora where she works.

“I’ve never been in a big meeting, much less with the top executives,” del Angel said. “But we all have the hope that they will raise our salaries.”

Del Angel’s trip represented a unique opportunity for a maquiladora worker to meet directly with U.S. business executives who consider the border plants essential to the viability of their business. For del Angel, it was not only an opportunity to see the United States, but gave the factory worker a chance to bring up wages and other pressing issues to GM’s top executives.

Her trip was sponsored by the Interfaith Center for Corporate Responsibility and the Mercy Consolidated Asset Management Program. The organizations are church-based investment groups that own GM stock.

The religious investors, representing about 1 million GM shares, encourage corporate responsibility, said Sister Barbara Glendon, a social responsibility coordinator for Mercy Consolidated. Del Angel’s visit was the result of a conversation between Mercy Consolidated and GM executives.

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