(en) HAN YOUNG 12-18-97

Shawn Ewald (shawn@wilshire.net)
Thu, 18 Dec 1997 20:33:12 -0700


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------- Forwarded Message Follows ------- Date: Thu, 18 Dec 1997 20:06:58 -0800 (PST) To: clr@igc.org From: Campaign for Labor Rights <clr@igc.apc.org> Subject: HAN YOUNG 12-18-97

Labor Alerts: a service of Campaign for Labor Rights To receive our email labor alerts, send a message to CLR@igc.apc.org Phone: (541) 344-5410 Web site: http://www.compugraph.com/clr Membership/newsletter. Send $35.00 to Campaign for Labor Rights, 1247 "E" Street SE, Washington, DC 20003. Sample newsletter available on request.

HAN YOUNG 12-18-97

[Information provided by staff of the Support Committee for Maquiladora Workers, who ask that local activists seeking updates contact Campaign for Labor Rights: (541) 344-5410, <CLR@igc.apc.org>]

In this report: 1) Clarifications 2) Hold the letters! 3) Related issues 4) Press release from Rep. David Bonior

1) CLARIFICATIONS

Hyundai boycott: The boycott of Hyundai Motors will not be called off until a collective bargaining agreement is signed. However, the boycott demonstrations are on hold. The Support Committee for Maquiladora Workers is not asking local activists to leaflet at Hyundai dealerships at this time.

The bribes: In the two days leading up to the second union certification election at Han Young, management was offering bribes of 1,000 pesos to any worker who would vote for the government-controlled CTM stand-in union. The U.S. equivalent of this amount is approximately $125. The Canadian equivalent is $85-90.

Two independent unions: As a condition for participating in a second union certification election, the Han Young workers insisted that the state government of Baja commit in writing beforehand that, no matter whether STIMAHCS won or lost in the election, the government would recognize a state industrial union. STIMAHCS is affiliated with the independent FAT labor federation. The state industrial union, also independent, is not affiliated with any federation. This plan gave the workers a double back-up. First, if STIMAHCS had lost the second election, the workers would still would have had an official agreement to recognize an independent union. Second, if STIMAHCS won but hitches developed later (such as the state refusing to certify it), the workers would have the unaffiliated independent union to fall back on. The workers are not expecting to have to use their fallback option. It will be STIMAHCS which represents the workers in collective bargaining, scheduled to begin in early January, following the Christmas holiday break.

2) HOLD THE LETTERS!

Although Hyundai is a separate company from Han Young, Ted Chung, the president of Hyundai Precision America has made a commitment to the Support Committee for Maquiladora Workers to see that the process moves forward, all the way through the signing of a collective bargaining agreement between STIMAHCS and Han Young management. He says that he is pleased that the workers' choice of a union is finally certified and that he wants to do everything possible within his power to ensure that an agreeable contract is signed. As Han Young's sole source of business, Hyundai Precision has considerable clout with Han Young management.

Mr. Chung understands why we need to continue the boycott of Hyundai Motors until a contract is signed at Han Young. He has, however, made a special request to the Support Committee that people not be asked to write more letters to him as long as the process is moving forward. The Support Committee is happy to honor that request. Thanks to all of you who already sent letters. To those who have not yet sent your letters (which we called for in yesterday's alert), please do not send them.

3) RELATED ISSUES

The Baja state government and the industry association are trying to minimize the damage to their image following the STIMAHCS victory at Han Young. The strategy is to take journalists on guided tours of gleaming, modern factories in the Tijuana area, to bolster their contention that conditions at Han Young are the exception in the area. (If that were true, why would the power structure have been so intent on resisting a victory at Han Young?) So, don't be surprised if you start seeing syndicated newspaper stories depicting a workers' paradise just south of San Diego. The crisis at Han Young was a kind of reverse poster child for NAFTA during the debate over "fast track." If President Clinton tries to resuscitate "fast track" this year, such stories are likely.

One fact to keep in mind: The nature of some production requires clean, up-to-date factories. This is particularly true in electronics, the major industry in the Tijuana area. Conditions for the product and conditions for workers are not necessarily the same. As has been amply demonstrated in the Nike campaign, a walk through a sparkling factory tells you nothing about issues such as: exposure to toxics, pay, hours, forced overtime, sexual harassment, physical abuse and the right to organize.

A recent study released by the Maquiladora Health and Safety Network details health and safety problems in 70 Tijuana factories surveyed by a team of workers who conducted interviews with the employees of those plants. A summary of this report will appear in the next issue of the Maquiladora Health and Safety Network email newsletter. To subscribe (it's free!), send an email to <ishmaelMD@aol.com>.

4) BONIOR PRESS RELEASE

Following is a press release distributed yesterday by the office of U.S. Rep. David Bonior (D-MI). Note: The release refers to two hunger strikers. Three illegally fired workers maintained their fast until the independent union was certified. Bonior met with two of the three in October, prior to the hunger strike.

BONIOR COMMENDS HAN YOUNG WORKERS FOR ACHIEVING HISTORIC, INDEPENDENT UNION - - - - - - - - - - - - Bonior Says That Hard Work, Courage and Solidarity Brought About a Positive Result in a Long Struggle

Washington, DC - Congressman David E. Bonior (D-MI) today applauded the workers of the Han Young factory in Tijuana, Mexico who achieved recognition of their independent union, despite efforts from company managers and government officials to stop them. It is the first independent union to be recognized among the 2,700 maquiladora factories along the U.S.-Mexico border.

"This is a major step in the right direction," said Bonior. "I want to commend these workers who have struggled for months to achieve an independent union. They have overcome tremendous odds to get this far - a true testament to their hard work, courage and solidarity."

Late Tuesday evening, the workers of Han Young won a second election to have an independent union represent them. This result occurred despite reported actions to squelch their effort through intimidation and bribery. The workers at the Han Young factory had already elected an independent union on October 6, 1997. But, on November 10, the Mexican Labor Board - which is controlled by the Mexican government - threw out the election results, and deemed the independent union illegitimate.

"This victory was achieved in spite of the system that is in place in Mexico, not because of it," said Bonior. "These workers have been down a long, hard road. They have endured months of harassment, yet they persisted in their struggle for justice - and grew stronger along the way. Their vision and perseverance is reminiscent of the autoworkers in the 1936 sit-down strike in Flint, Michigan - whose efforts led to the creation of the UAW.

"We must continue to do all we can to ensure that Mexico enforces its labor laws, as required under the NAFTA side agreements. The right of workers to organize is a fundamental democratic principle," Bonior said.

On October 26 in Ciudad de Juarez, Mexico, Congressman Bonior - along with Congressmen Peter DeFazio (D-OR) and Bernie Sanders (I-VT) - met with four workers from the Han Young factory - all leaders in the effort to organize an independent union. As a result of their struggle to achieve better wages and establish safer working conditions, these workers suffered threats, intimidation, and the loss of their jobs. Two of these brave workers, Miguel Angel Sanchez and Miguel Angel Meza Arroyo, later launched a hunger strike which helped bring international attention to their cause.

Congressman Bonior, with fourteen other Members of Congress, wrote to President Bill Clinton in early November, asking him to raise the issue of the Han Young workers' right to organize with Mexican President Ernesto Zedillo during his visit to Washington, D.C. Congressman Bonior also spoke to Vice President Al Gore, who personally raised the issue with President Zedillo.

Workers in the border factories, called maquiladoras, are currently represented by government-controlled unions - who rarely meet with workers, and do little to address issues like low wages, poor working conditions, and worker safety. Since passage of the North American Free Trade Agreement, employment in the maquiladoras has nearly doubled, while wages have fallen by 30 percent.

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