Comité Fronterizo
de Obrer@s


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

Home> CFO in the Media 2002
Spanish Version



Persistence pays off in victories for maquiladora workers

Quaker Service Bulletin
Spring 2002

IN A TESTAMENT to persistence, organizing skills, and political savvy, workers at Alcoa Plant #2 in Piedras Negras, Mexico, have recently scored significant victories in their efforts to improve working conditions.

The workers have gained awareness and the confidence to voice their concerns and demands before management, an achievement in itself given Mexico’s tight labor controls. The workers reaffirmed their growing power by winning a critical union election earlier this year that installed a new, democratic union executive committee. The election unseated the slate of candidates endorsed by plant management.

The workers’ gains have been made possible, in part, with support from the AFSC and its partner organization, the CFO, a Mexican grassroots organization of maquiladora workers, both women and men, that promotes union democracy and worker’s rights in six cities along the Mexico-U.S. border.

(Maquiladoras are foreign-owned factories along the Mexico-U.S. border. Alcoa is the world’s largest producer of aluminum, and plant #2 in Piedras Negras has about 1,800 employees.)

Together, the AFSC and CFO have helped workers at Alcoa Plant #2 get organized, publicize their struggles, and make connections with U.S. labor unions as well as Alcoa shareholders and executives.

“During the eight years of NAFTA, only a handful of workers’ organizing efforts inside the maquiladoras have resulted in democratic union election victories,” says Ricardo Hernández, director of the AFSC Mexico-U.S. Border Program, which has supported organizing efforts by maquiladora workers since 1979. The victory of a CFO-supported slate in one Alcoa plant represents a qualitative step forward in worker’s unity and empowerment.”

A key component of the recent victories has been the pressure exerted by a group of more than a dozen Alcoa institutional investors. Working through the Interfaith Center for Corporate Responsibility, AFSC and other faith-based investors have facilitated direct communications between the maquiladora workers and Alcoa executives.

The workers hope that ongoing conversations with key Alcoa executives will bring a positive response to their demands for the reestablishment of many benefits that were severely slashed last January and full recognition and respect for the legality of the recent election and the democratic union.


    is produced in cooperation with the
Mexico-U.S Border Program
of the American Friends Service Committee (AFSC)

Comité Fronterizo de Obrer@s (CFO)
Monterrey #1103, Col. Las Fuentes
Piedras Negras, Coahuila
C.P. 26010, México