For the labor rights and all human rights of the maquiladora workers
What is the CFO
The Comité Fronterizo de Obrer@s (CFO-Border Committee of Workers) is a grassroot organization that supports union democracy and workers rights in six cities along the Mexico-U.S. border. With support from the CFO, thousands of maquiladora workers have won significant victories, including:
The CFO consists of workers whose consciousness has already been raised and who want to help our coworkers. We are all current or former maquiladora workers. We are active in three of Mexico 's border states: Tamaulipas, Coahuila, and Chihuahua. Our main office is in the city of Piedras Negras in Coahuila. To contact us, we recommend you to read first How to communicate with the CFO.
The CFO was established in 1986 as an independent Mexican organization, although its efforts date back to 1978 as a binational Quaker project. It is set up as an asociación civil, the Mexican equivalent of a nonprofit organization. The CFO is an inclusive group that respects the political, religious, and sexual preferences of its members. It is indepent of the government and of all political parties.
What Problems Do We Address? The maquiladora industry -export-oriented assembly plants along Mexico 's northern border - is one of the world's first laboratories for "free trade." This industry has boosted Mexico 's export income- but its human costs are excessive. Maquiladora workers, especially women, live in poverty and are constantly victimized by the climate of abuse in the maquiladora workplace. Extremely low wages, health risks on the job, constant violations of Mexico 's labor code, a lack of respect for the workers' dignity, an absence of the freedom to form and join unions of our own choosing, and environmental degradation are the most important problems we face.
What is our focus? The CFO has always supported, given advice to, and accompanied maquiladora workers with whom we have established contacts. This support has consisted in first listening to the workers, gaining their confidence, and helping them to organize themselves according to their needs. The workers, both women and men, speak to us about all of their problems, not only in the maquiladoras, but also in their communities and their families. For this reason, we are covering such problems as labor, union, health, security and hygiene, gender-discrimination, domestic violence, conflicts between neighbors, family and personal issues. When a women worker empowers herself in order to defend her rights in front of a powerful global corporation, she also changes the world around her.
However, more and more we have realized that the focus of our work should be to help workers to create their own workers organizations or independent unions.
In order to reach this objective, we need to first develop the workers' knowledge, their capacity to talk about and defend their rights, to organize themselves and negotiate with managers, and their resistance in front of those who do not want the workers to become aware of their rights: the owners of the maquiladoras, the governments and the corrupt unions. With all of this and the increase in support the workers are asking of us, we have realized that we, the CFO, need to focus on the most strategic work and training areas.
Recently, we have been focusing on:
Grassroots and union organizing, and training of women worker leaders
A CFO's complementary project, the Maquiladora Dignidad y Justicia (Dignity & Justice Maquiladora Co.), continues to receive support from us. However, in accordance with the initial objective of the project, the daily management of the maquiladora is now done by the women who work in the maquiladora sewing shop.
We have also helped hundreds of workers resolve health and occupational security issues in their workplaces; however, we do not have a particular work area for these specific themes. At the same time as we continue to address the health of the workers, helping them with specific issues, we also link these health issues to the necessity of organizing independent unions.
Take a look also at our report: Health and Safety Rollback in the Maquiladora Industry: Declining Health and Safety Reflects Intensified Attack on Labor Rights
During four or five years, we made and effort to contact and help women workers in Ciudad Juárez. We also co-sponsored events to demand a solution to crimes against women in Ciudad Juárez, Chihuahua. With the help of various supporters, we maintained a CFO group in this city; unfortunately, the distance from other border cities in Coahuila and Tamaulipas has made it difficult to follow-up with the work in Ciudad Juárez.
To know more about the CFO perspective concerning the situation women face in Ciudad Juárez, please consult the pages: Women in Juarez, which we have developed in the last three years, and which are available on our website CFOmaquiladoras.org
Help We Can Offer
The CFO can assist individuals and groups of maquiladora workers with
www.cfomaquiladoras.org es producido en colaboración con el
Comité Fronterizo de Obrer@s (CFO)