This 10 June 2019 video says about itself:
This video says about itself:
The Yucatan Spider Monkey (Ateles geoffroyi)
One of the largest New World monkeys, Spider Monkeys get their name from their tendency to stretch like a spider high up into the trees.
They are easy to recognize with their long limbs and a unique tail that is longer than their body. The tail is used as a fifth limb for support and swinging in the tree, but also provides an advantage to the monkeys by allowing them to hang from their tails and grasp hard to reach fruit.
Filmed at the Belize Zoo, 2017
Spider monkeys lower their ‘whinnies’ when making long-distance calls
Lower-frequency calls favored by isolated spider monkeys get faster responses from listeners in their group
April 3, 2019
Isolated spider monkeys (Ateles geoffroyi) likely lower the pitch of their calls to improve the chances of re-establishing contact with their group, according to a study published April 3, 2019 in the open-access journal PLOS ONE by José D. Ordóñez-Gómez from the German Primate Center, Germany, and colleagues.
Spider monkeys live in groups and communicate with out-of-sight group members using vocalizations known as whinnies. They are known to vary the pitch, or frequency, of their whinnies, and in this study, the authors analyzed whether such variation relates to the relative social isolation of the caller. They also assessed whether listener responses changed depending on the frequency of the original whinny.
Between February and June of 2016, the authors followed a group of 27 female and 8 male adult black-handed spider monkeys in the Lacandona Rainforest of Mexico, recording the monkeys whenever they came within 20 meters of their microphones. For the purposes of this study, callers were defined as isolated if more than 40m from other adult monkeys — otherwise, the caller was defined as being within a subgroup.
After analyzing 566 whinnies from the 35 monkeys, the authors found that callers outside a subgroup produced whinnies with a lower fundamental frequency than those produced by spontaneous callers within a subgroup. Since lower-frequency calls travel longer distances, this may improve the monkey’s chance of re-establishing contact with their group. The authors also found that listeners responded more quickly to lower-frequency whinnies, and themselves used lower-frequency whinnies when there was a greater separation distance between callers.
Previous studies have shown that aroused spider monkeys tend to produce lower-frequency calls, and the authors suggest that socially isolated spider monkeys might experience higher arousal, which could explain the lower-frequency calls they produce. More research is needed to investigate this link; regardless, these results indicate that spider monkeys do lower the pitch of their calls when socially isolated.
The authors emphasize: “The acoustic variation of the spider monkeys´ contact calls (whinnies) is related to callers´ contexts and listeners´ responses.”
By Andrea Lobo in Mexico:
12 February 2019
A second wave of wildcat strikes continues to expand in Matamoros, Mexico, and is beginning to spread across the country. Sparked by the tens of thousands of workers at 45 maquiladora plants who rebelled last month against the pro-corporate trade unions, tens of thousands more are launching their own struggles after workers in Matamoros won a 20 percent wage increase and a $1,700 bonus.
Inspired by the initial wave, 20 additional maquiladora plants in Matamoros that were not initially on strike began their own wildcat strike last Tuesday and were joined by workers at the Coca-Cola bottling plant, three supermarkets, trash collectors and workers from other sectors.
The wildcat wave is spreading throughout the country.
Last Thursday, 680 workers at a General-Mills plant in the city of Irapuato of the central Mexican state of Guanajuato launched a four-day wildcat strike against two unjustified firings and called for the establishment of a new contract with paid vacations and improved conditions. Negotiations are ongoing.
Hundreds of teachers in the southern state of Michoacán continue to strike and block crucial railways to demand a total of $311 million in owed bonuses. …
Meanwhile, workers at the five national campuses of the Autonomous University of Mexico (UAM) are entering their tenth day of a strike to demand a 20 percent wage increase … .
As the strike wave grows in Mexico, the ruling class is warning of a “contagion” and carrying out a brutal counter-attack in Matamoros. The local maquiladora association, Index, announced last week that companies have fired more than 1,500 workers who participated in the strikes and that they plan to layoff 25,000 more within three years.
Among Matamoros workers, the most common subject on workers’ social media groups … is fighting to defend those fired and to protect against the threats of mass layoffs. At Trico Componentes, which already agreed to the demand of a raise and bonus, workers are discussing new strikes against the non-payment of the bonus. …
Reforma also reported yesterday that maquiladora employers in Ciudad Juárez, across the border from El Paso, Texas, are expressing growing concerns that the strike wave will spread there. …
The strike wave in Mexico is part of a resurgence of militancy among workers internationally … .
Yesterday, 5,600 Denver teachers started their first strike in 25 years, continuing a wave of strikes by tens of thousands of teachers across several US states against decades of austerity and privatization.
State and corporate attacks escalate against workers in Matamoros, Mexico. By Andrea Lobo, 22 February 2019.
By Alex González in Mexico:
Wave of walkouts in Matamoros, Mexico builds toward general strike
7 February 2019
The courage and victory of the initial strike wave of 70,000 workers at 45 “maquiladoras” in Matamoros, Mexico has inspired new and broader sections of workers to go on strike.
According to government statistics, over the past week 40,000 more workers have launched wildcat strikes in a rebellion … while the vast majority of workers at the original 45 striking plants have now won their demands. The walkouts now encompass auto parts, electrical, trash collection, supermarket, textile, food processing and other workers. The movement is growing in the direction of a general strike.
The renewed wave of strikes takes place after workers at 41 of the 45 plants organized by the Union of Laborers and Industrial Workers of the Maquiladora Industry (SJOIIM) rebelled against the union and the companies and won a 20 percent wage increase and a 32,000 peso ($US1,700) bonus, or what the workers call their “20 and 32.” Based on this initial shot across the bow, workers from another 32 companies have followed suit and have launched their own wildcat strikes.
Significantly, the strikes are taking place even though workers from the Industrial Union of Workers at Maquiladora and Assembly Plants (SITPME) and the Union of Workers in the Maquiladora and Assembly Industry (STIME) did not have a yearly bonus pegged to increases in the minimum wage stipulated in their contract, which was the initial impetus for the first strike wave on January 12. Instead, workers are fighting with a conscious understanding that they deserve more from the corporations that exploit their labor 12 hours a day, 6 days a week for less than a dollar per hour.
The extent of the strike demonstrates the commonality of interests between all sections of workers, regardless of their industry or other secondary traits. It is part of a global resurgence of the class struggle after decades of its suppression by the trade unions and takes place as autoworkers in the US, Canada, Latin America and Europe are engaged in a struggle against plant closures, layoffs and other concessions. Some of the plants on strike include auto parts manufacturers Tridonex, Adient, FisherDynamics, and Tricon.
Like their counterparts at SJOIIM, the workers launched a wildcat strike following a mass meeting on Monday that was organized independently of … the trade unions. The SITPME is led by the hated Jesus Mendoza, who shamelessly told strikers on Wednesday that they were “lucky” because they only paid three percent of their wages to the union. …
The multi-industry work stoppage continues to expand day by day. In the past three days, 500 supermarket workers from Soriana and Chedraui—the second and fourth largest grocery chains in the country—have walked out. Walmart workers are rumored to join the strike in the coming days.
Meanwhile, hundreds of workers at Coca-Cola, Vakita milk and Blanquita purified water plants are entering the fifth day of their strikes. About 500 drivers from the Coca-Cola plant in Matamoros, the company’s second largest bottler in Latin America, denounced the fact that they are often forced to work overtime without pay and are charged for bottles that are broken in transit. “We end up losing, not earning money here,” workers said. At Vakita milk, some 200,000 liters of dairy products are not being delivered per day as a result of the strike.
The strike has even spread to public service workers. On Wednesday, Matamoros’ trash collection workers went on strike to demand their own wage increase and bonus. With some 70 workers on strike, 450 tons of trash were collected only through emergency measures implemented by the mayor throughout the day.
At the same time, there are growing calls for workers at the original 45 plants to go back out on strike to defend the 600 workers that were fired as a reprisal for the strike, many of whom were leaders of the factory committees.
The expansion and defense of their gains pits workers against the entire economic and political system of capitalism. The ruling elite is terrified of the scope of the strikes and what they presage: an international resurgence of the class struggle to fight against intolerable levels of inequality, expanding militarization, and attacks against social services.
A new video released by the Tamaulipas state government pleads with workers in other cities not to go on strike. Referring to another city just 80 kilometers from Matamoros, the video states: “Reynosa wants to work, Reynosa does not want strikes, Reynosa wants peace.”
The state and the companies continue to threaten workers with pulling out of Matamoros and leaving thousands of workers unemployed. Chavira Martinez, the state Secretary of Labor, told reporters: “The anticipated [job cuts] are above 5,000 and could even be 20,000, the companies are forecasting cuts within six months on average.”
The objective logic of the developments in Matamoros is a general strike, drawing in ever broader sections of the population in a common fight for social equality. …
The threat of plant closures and mass firings in Matamoros can only be defeated by mobilizing the independent strength of the working class. Now more than ever, it is crucial that the Matamoros workers send democratically-elected delegations of workers to other cities to mobilize other sections of the working class. …
Above all, the growing strike wave must unite with workers across the Americas, including US and Canadian workers who are objectively linked to the Matamoros workers through the economic process of production. We urge workers to attend and support the February 9 demonstration by autoworkers in Detroit, Michigan, which is being held with the perspective of unifying the working class across borders.
The reality of capitalism: General Motors makes $11.8 billion in profits while closing plants, eliminating 14,000 jobs: here.
By Andrea Lobo and Eric London in the USA:
6 February 2019
On February 9 at 2 p.m. EST, the WSWS Autoworker Newsletter is co-hosting a demonstration in Detroit to fight plant closings, mass layoffs and concessions. For more information about attending the demonstration, go to wsws.org/auto.
As the powerful strike of Mexican maquiladora workers grows in the border city of Matamoros, workers on the picket lines issued calls in support of the Steering Committee of the Coalition of Rank and File Committees’ planned demonstration against job cuts and concessions at GM headquarters in Detroit on Saturday, February 9 at 2 pm.
Griselda, a leader of the rank-and-file committee at Fisher Dynamics, issued the following statement:
“I support the call for a general strike in Canada, the US and Mexico to put an end to layoffs, abuses and to win fair salaries. We must be united. There are no borders in our fight. We stand firm here.”
On Monday afternoon, a mass assembly of workers at several new plants rebelled against their union, the Industrial Union of Workers at Maquiladora and Assembly Plants (SITPME), and called for a general strike.
Responding to this call, thousands of workers at 22 maquiladoras joined the wildcat strikes yesterday, with a dozen more plants discussing further walkouts. At the Smart and Chedraui supermarkets, workers decided to join the strike, demanding 20 percent wage increases and a bonus of $1,700. Retail workers at the mega chains Soriana and Walmart are also discussing joining the strike, which would bring far broader sectors of the city’s economy to a halt. In total, there are at least 35 companies on strike in Matamoros.
Griselda urged US and Canadian workers to fight job cuts by building their own rank-and-file committees:
“We got organized. The union didn’t support us. In order to begin this strike, we had to organize within the plant at each of the three shifts. We picked between two or three people at each line and that is how we formed a committee of our fellow workers. In my case, three of us were elected from one line and two from the other. Then, the first, second and third shifts formed a committee, we entered to negotiate with the manager and we didn’t get a favorable answer and that is why we walked out.
“We presented a sheet with our petitions, with a 20 percent raise, a bonus of 32,000 pesos ($1,700) and no retaliations for our fellow workers. We spoke to the corporation to get us our demands, and they agreed to the 20 percent increase but not the bonus. They offered us 10,000 pesos. And, even though it is not part of our contract, we want the full bonus because everything is too expensive. We work long hours and don’t get to spend time with our family and our work is of the best quality. We need it.”
This 5 February 2019 video from Mexico says about itself:
Workers on the picket line in Matamoros, Mexico
“This is Fisher Dynamics and all the workers that are outside of the plant. Human Resources has placed speakers telling workers to go to work, also with signs, telling people that everything is OK. There are barely 20 workers still inside. That is the situation in Matamoros, at the Fisher Dynamics auto plant. All those speakers they brought are to tell people to go to work and that nothing is going on and that they should think about their personal welfare. Sincerely, we are the majority out here. We call on you not to be afraid.”
The Andrea Lobo and Eric London article continues:
“Unity makes us strong, so we asked for the support of other plants. The trade union now says that they support us and brought us food, but we are already organized independently of the trade union. We have to demonstrate that we can unite with the committees of other plants because we all suffer the same things.”
Bernardo, an Inteva worker in Matamoros, also appealed for US and Canadian workers to attend the February 9 meeting:
“You have to be united and decided on what you want to achieve. We are told workers are nothing without the businesspeople that is what is always been believed. But what has happened here shows the other side of the coin. We have demonstrated that the businesspeople are nothing without the workers. The struggle has not been easy, but one has to endure and demonstrate who we are and that we are stronger united.”
His advice to workers in the US and Canada was: “ … Once you start your own strikes there is no turning back, so you have to ask for the support of those that have not gone out on strike. Study what happened here in Matamoros. If you unite the strikes in the United States with those in other parts of the world, the workers movement would strengthen because we would be closing down the road of the corporate elite.”
After two full weeks of wildcat strikes among 70,000 workers in defiance of the union and management, and one week of a “legally-sanctioned” strike, 41 of the 48 companies have folded to workers’ demands for a 20 percent raise and a $1,700 bonus.
Seven of the original plants are still on strike and workers at several of the factories that went back to work after winning their demands are now discussing another walkout to reverse the more than 600 firings orchestrated by the companies as reprisals and as a maneuver to avoid paying the promised bonuses. Workers in some plants are demanding democratic workers’ control over hiring and firing.
Rosalinda, a striking Kearfott worker issued advise to her northern autoworker counterparts:
“The employers will have no intention to yield. Keep up your fight for better working conditions and living standards and stop them from stomping on your rights! We cannot continue allowing such an unfair distribution of wealth, with rich governments and poor populations.”
Luis Daniel, a worker from Jalisco who says he was brutally beaten by company thugs when he fought to defend the rights of workers in his home state, said [see video on top of this blog post]:
“I want to send my support to fellow workers in Detroit, as well as to all the different workers’ movements across the world—the Yellow Vests in France, in India, the LA teachers. It’s a pleasure to know that we, the working class, are uniting internationally to deal with the abuses that we are subjected to often by the employers and by social conditions that seek to undermine our dignity as the life standard. We cannot allow this anymore. Thank you for your demonstration, fellow workers in Detroit. Rest assured that we are aware of the issues you are facing, and we are with you. Let’s fight until we get equality and a better world for those to come and for ourselves. Thank you, compañeros.”
The time has come to stand up and fight. Workers from all different industries must make the decision to attend the demonstration on Saturday, February 9 at 2 pm in front of GM headquarters in downtown Detroit.
This 5 February 2019 video from the USA says about itself:
WSWS Labor Editor Jerry White spoke in front of the GM world headquarters in downtown Detroit, and answered questions from local news reporters about the upcoming March to Fight GM Plant Closures, to be held at the same spot this Saturday, February 9.
This 12 January 2019 video is about striking workers demonstrating in Matamoros, Mexico.
Matamoros strike grows as Mexican ruling class warns of national strike wave
2 February 2019
The strike of tens of thousands of Matamoros workers spread beyond the maquiladoras this week to new industries as workers in water purification, milk production, and Coca-Cola bottling walked out of their Matamoros workplaces Thursday and Friday.
Several additional auto parts maquiladoras also joined the strike at the end of the week, including at Spellman, Toyoda Gosei Rubber and Tapex. Although over a dozen plants have returned to work after the companies granted the 20 percent wage increase and $1,700 bonus, more than 25 remain on strike, costing the mostly US-based companies a whopping $37 million per day.
At the same time, a strike of 30,000 teachers in the state of Michoacan neared the end of its third week with thousands of teachers blocking train tracks linking industrial hubs with the critical Pacific ports at Lázaro Cárdenas in Michoacan and Manzanillo in Colima. Last Monday, thousands of teachers in Oaxaca joined the strike.
Noticieros Televisa wrote Thursday that the teachers’ blockades “impact not only national industries but also their principle trading partners in Asia. In Guanajuato, the auto industry already reports an impact to supply lines.”
The Mexican ruling class is terrified of the growing strike movement.
In an article titled “The end of labor stability”, Mexico’s main business paper, El Financiero, warned on Thursday that “not in decades has Mexico been presented with 44 strikes in only one blow.” In comparison to recent weeks, the six-year presidential terms of Vicente, Felipe Calderón and Enrique Peña Nieto saw only 49, 40 and 23 strikes respectively.
“As easy as one two three, the labor stability which we have maintained for decades, with hundreds of thousands of successful contract negotiations, is broken. And it won’t stop there”, El Financiero wrote, warning that the future will bring “polarization” and “a growth of the contradictions between capital and labor. It is the end of labor peace.”
Milenio newspaper warned that “there is a fear of a contagion in the border region, where millions hope for an increase to their incomes.” The paper quotes an anonymous business leader who said, “This is without precedent. We are all involved in what here will mark what will be the future of manufacturing in this country.”
The industry website Manufactura.mx reported that a corporate representative said industry workers were “contaminated” by the demands for a 20 percent wage increase and that companies anticipate the strikes will spread. The business representative said, “We have an excellent relationship with the union” and hoped the union would help the company avoid a strike.
According to Noticieros Televisa, in “the maquiladora industry in Baja California [where the largest maquiladora city, Tijuana, is located] there is a fear that workers will launch a strike for wage increases.” Noticieros Televisa reports that maquiladoras are “maintaining dialogue with the unions of the industry with the goal of avoiding a labor stoppage.”
Workers are both excited by the growth of the strike and concerned that the companies plan to betray whatever agreement they reach.
One Matamoros striker said, “We all have to go out together. … The majority of us are already out. The problem is that the union hasn’t helped us and hasn’t represented us. Now we have to go out and organize guards. We are not asking for gifts, only what we deserve.” …
A striking Kearfott worker told the WSWS, “I’m glad for the new strikers. This is for all workers across the border that have that clause in their contracts” requiring wages increase in parity with the minimum wage. “The same companies put it there and now they have to pay. We are the most exploited and least rewarded class. I think that it’s time for them to give back to us what they have taken.”
A worker at Autoliv explained to the WSWS that after the company agreed to workers’ demands, “as soon as we went back to work, they began to fire people.”
A worker at Tyco, which also agreed to the wage increase and bonus, also told the WSWS there is a growing mood to strike again to protect their coworkers from retribution:
“At Autoliv, they are firing a bunch of people without severance or bonus. The manager fires workers and mocks them, telling them that they are not going to pay their bonus or severance. They are being sent to the conciliation and arbitration board and are told that they’ll have to wait half a year or a year to resolve things. Obviously this board is on the side of Autoliv.
“I think that the majority that are now working, many who didn’t even participate in the wildcat strikes, should all strike again to support their fired co-workers. They are already getting their bonus and raise. We are a new generation that didn’t know how to strike. We have won respect whether people like it or not. Maybe it’s not all the respect we need, but this is our first strike and if things don’t get better, our second strike will be more organized.”
Though the US business press is beginning to report on the impact of the strikes in Mexico from an economic standpoint, the websites of the International Socialist Organization (ISO) and Socialist Alternative as well as the Democratic Socialists of America’s (DSA) Jacobin magazine have all ignored the strike entirely.
This 26 January 2019 video in Spanish is about the Matamoros strike.
By Shannon Jones in the USA:
The economics of the North American auto industry
How global auto parts corporations profit by exploiting Mexican workers
2 February 2019
The massive strikes by maquiladora workers in Matamoros, Mexico, have brought to public light the highly exploitive conditions faced by those laboring for global auto parts makers and other manufacturing industries along the US-Mexican border.
There are 345 “Tier 1” auto suppliers with a presence in Mexico, according to a recent report by ProMexico, an organization set up by the Mexican government to promote international trade and development. Some 65 percent in direct investment in Mexico is in auto-supply-related industries.
The profits extracted off the backs of Mexican workers are a source of enormous enrichment for stockholders and CEOs of the transnational auto parts suppliers, many of them based near Detroit, Michigan.
Auto parts production in Mexico is closely integrated with the global car market, with many of the parts made in Matamoros and other cities shipped to the US. The border crossing at Brownsville, Texas, handled trade worth $14.7 billion in 2017. Auto parts are Mexico’s second leading export, behind petroleum.
The following are profiles of just a few of the multinationals and leading personalities involved in auto parts production in Mexico.
Aurora, Ontario-based Magna is the world’s fifth largest auto parts manufacturer, with $39 billion in sales in 2017 and pre-tax income of $3 billion. It recently opened a plant in Querétaro, Mexico, to manufacture molded and exterior parts. It employs some 24,000 workers in Mexico at 30 different facilities including in Matamoros.
Don Walker, Magna CEO, is one of the most heavily compensated executives in Canada, with $20.4 million in salary. In addition, he has $25.4 million in stock options that he has not exercised and $10.2 million in stock-based wards that have vested but not been paid out.
Lear Corporation, based in Southfield, Michigan, has some 46,000 employees in Mexico and operates 23 plants, according to one report. It recorded sales of $21.1 billion in 2018 and net income of $1.15 billion. In 2017, its top five officers took in some $34 million in executive compensation, including former president and CEO Matthew Simoncini who alone received $14.8 million.
Autoliv, based in Auburn Hills, Michigan, outside of Detroit, bills itself as the world largest automotive safety supplier. It has manufacturing plants in Tijuana, Matamoros and Lerma, with three manufacturing plants in Querétaro, and employs a total of 11,000 in Mexico. It makes airbags, seatbelts, seatbelt webbing and airbag cushions. Workers at the Autoliv plant in Matamoros were among the first to go on strike, and workers now report the company is firing workers in retribution.
The company reported pretax income of $506 million in 2017 on sales of $10.4 billion. Mikael Bratt, president and CEO of Autoliv, pulled in a relatively modest $1.7 million in executive compensation in 2017. Mats Backman, Autoliv chief financial officer, made $1.5 million.
French-based auto parts maker Faurecia operates 14 plants employing 10,000 in Mexico. The company recorded $24.17 billion in auto component sales in 2017. It is the sixth largest auto component maker in the world and produces seats, interior systems and emission control technology. The company’s US operations were recently the subject of an exposure by the World Socialist Web Site Autoworker Newsletter.
Typical of the rapacious character of global auto parts manufacture is Dura Automotive. Its Matamoros factories produce parking brake cables and body engine release cables and other components for major auto manufacturers including Ford, Fiat Chrysler, General Motors, Honda and TRW, Subaru and KIA.
The owner and CEO of Dura, Lynn Tilton, is described by Forbes as a “self-made woman,” with estimated net worth of $830 million. As founder and owner of private investment firm Patriarch Partners, she buys distressed companies, carries out brutal downsizing and then sells them for a profit. In 2016, the Securities and Exchange Commission filed fraud charges against Tilton and Patriarch Partners alleging that the true value of funds it managed were hidden from investors.
Tilton reportedly commutes to her New York office by helicopter and “owns homes in Florida, Arizona, Hawaii, and an Italian villa on Lake Como, just up the mountain from George Clooney,” valued at $60 million or more.
In an interview with Forbes, she boasted of owning $25 million in jewelry and another $10 million in aircraft. She reported that she has a reality show about her business (“Diva of Distressed”) in the works with the Sundance Channel. She showed the Forbes reporter a statement from her accountant of assets like gold, silver and cash totaling $544 million.
Tyco International is another multinational conglomerate with operations in Matamoros. It merged with Johnson Controls in 2016 to form Johnson Controls International plc.
The company’s former chief financial officer, Mark Swartz, and former CEO, Dennis Kozlowski, were convicted in 2005 of crimes related to the receipt of $81 million in unauthorized bonuses, the purchase of $14.7 million in art and the payment by the company of a $20 million investment banking fee to a former Tyco director.
Another Tyco executive, Edward Breen, who replaced Kozlowski, got a golden parachute when he left his post as CEO of in September 2013, with compensation, retirement pay, stock and other perks valued at more than $150 million.
Breen, who remained Tyco chairman, got an additional $30 million as a lump sum pension payout in 2016, Tyco says. He has since been named CEO of Dupont, where he received 2018 compensation of $13.7 million, and also serves as a director of cable giant Comcast.
Another major player in the auto parts industry in Mexico is International Automotive Components Group IACG, formed by now US Treasury Secretary Wilbur Ross in 2006. Ross became notorious as an asset stripper, buying distressed companies and then imposing major attacks on workers and retirees. He worked with the United Steelworkers union to rob tens of thousands of retirees of their pensions at LTV Steel and other companies.
A ferocious advocate of trade war within the Trump administration, the firms Ross operates exploit the labor of workers all over the world. The single-minded drive by the Trump administration to scapegoat immigrants and to build a wall with Mexico is bound up with the determination of the ruling class to keep workers in Canada, Mexico and the US divided in order to be able to more efficiently exploit their labor.
Up until June of 2018 the president and CEO of IACG [was] Steve Miller, the former head of Delphi Automotive, now Aptiv, another major auto parts manufacturer with operations in Mexico. He is a ruthless enemy of the working class, using the bankruptcy of Delphi in 2005 to impose massive job cuts and concessions onto workers and retirees
Following the Delphi bankruptcy Miller spelled out a vision in which low wages in China, Mexico and other less-developed countries should set a standard for slashing wages and pension benefits in the US. He called decent pay, defined benefit pensions and retirement after 30 years of employment an anachronism that American business could no longer tolerate or afford.
Taking aim at Medicare and Social Security, he wrote, “The overwhelming voltage in the political third rail of touching these entitlements will forestall corrective action for years, but the problem will only grow. I fear something like intergenerational warfare, as young people increasingly resent having their wages reduced and taxed away to support social programs for their grandparents’ income and health-care concerns.”
At the same time as he was slashing jobs and pay for workers, Miller became notorious for handing out hefty compensation packages to Delphi executives. Miller himself received a multimillion-dollar signing bonus when he was hired as Delphi CEO just months before taking Delphi into bankruptcy.
This is the background of the strikes by workers in Matamoros who have courageously sought to pry back a tiny portion of the profits extracted by the transnational corporations.
This 22 January 2019 video is about striking workers marching in Matamoros, Mexico.
By Andrea Lobo and Alex González in Mexico:
1 February 2019
The largest strike in two decades in North America continues among tens of thousands of “maquiladora” workers in Matamoros, Mexico. Workers bravely rebelled two weeks ago against the pro-capitalist … trade unions to carry out wildcat strikes for decent salaries, unpaid benefits and an end to the sweatshop standards at their plants.
Luis Daniel Prieto, a young worker from the city of Lagos de Moreno, in the central Mexican state of Guanajuato, learned of the rebellion in Matamoros through the WSWS Twitter page. He was inspired by the courageous and independent stand taken by Matamoros workers and wanted to share his story.
After several low-wage jobs, including working at a Burger King, Luis Daniel, 34, worked for one year as a toll-booth collector. One afternoon, he learned from a radio commercial and from researching online that ICA, the company administrating the highway, was stealing thousands of pesos in owed benefits from each worker.
Once his paycheck arrived with 200 pesos ($US10) for yearly benefits, he refused to sign the consent form and sought to convince other workers to protest. After a week of these efforts, he was summarily fired.
“The anger after years of being exploited by corporations, that is when I vomited out all the ‘labor hangover’ from my whole life,” he recounts.
Luis Daniel decided to sue ICA at the local Conciliation and Arbitration Board in León, Guanajuato, to expose their financial records “for my fellow workers to realize what was happening.” After eight months of fighting for his case and running out of money, he accepted a settlement of 23,000 pesos ($US1,200) offered by the company.
“It was a defeat that would open a door to see other things,” he says. He used the money to buy equipment for a mobile churro stand which he now works at with a friend. “But that is when I thought, how many more people are in the same position when I demanded my benefits from ICA, feeling sad and alone like I did? That’s not right.”
He decided in September 2016 to open a Facebook page called “La pocilga laboral de Lagos de Moreno” (Labor Pigpen of Lagos de Moreno) offering to accompany workers fighting against abuses by employers. “On the one hand, we carried out demonstrations. On the other hand, there were legal complaints,” Luis Daniel explains.
During this period, two industrial parks were inaugurated in Lagos de Moreno, with thousands of workers being employed by auto-parts companies owned by German and Japanese capital. This development has turned the small city into an increasingly important nodule in the North American auto industry, according to El Economista, “particularly because of its proximity to the states of Guanajuato, Aguascalientes, San Luis Potosí and Querétaro, where Honda, Nissan, Mazda, General Motors, Toyota, BMW and Mercedes Benz all have assembly plants.”
Luis Daniel was contacted by workers from very diverse sectors—from agricultural fields, warehouses and housemaids to those at the newer manufacturing plants—all facing similar contract violations and other abuses by employers. He would encourage workers to denounce and publicize their complaints through the Facebook page, while they pursued lawsuits. This came increasingly at odds with the companies and their established institutions.
In the first place, he notes, “I met union leaders and officials, but no one wanted to support this to make a movement, which is what I wanted.” …
Then, Luis Daniel began making public protests against the local subhead of the Labor Secretariat, Lilia Vianey Luna López, who was refusing to grant legal counsel and threatening workers. One afternoon, he says, “Lilia Vianey sent municipal police to arrest me at the Conciliation and Arbitration building. They pointed machine guns at me and dragged me out of my chair.”
He said the president of the board intervened and prevented the arrest telling the police that they were not allowed in the building with weapons. “Be careful with this person, Lilia Vianey Luna López,” he said the local official then told him, “Business interests here are protecting her. They weren’t here to arrest you for what you are doing. That paper they showed me said that you tried to rape her.”
Luis Daniel said he waited until the police left and then went to denounce the allegations, which he said are false, at the office of the local human rights ombudsman, José Mavio Ramírez Trejo, who simply dismissed his complaint.
At the same time, he says he faced online censorship, noting that in late 2017, “I had another Facebook page of ‘La pocilga laboral’ and Facebook shut it down. We had about 5,000 followers and the new one has less than 300 and has had a lesser impact… This is something really rough that the powers that be apply.”
On January 31, 2018, he protested outside of the factories of Nestle and Dräxlmaier—a Germany-based auto-parts supplier— against the non-payment of wages for a security employee sub-contracted by the company Sevige. That evening, he said, two thugs went to his home to beat him with a metal pipe. His attackers only fled when a neighbor came out to his aid.
He filed a report at the local prosecutor’s office which he says was later dismissed again by the human rights ombudsman Ramírez Trejo, who claimed his office couldn’t file a report unless he had spent several days hospitalized.
“I kept accompanying the worker to his protests until, towards the end of May, I came out of my house and my car was on fire. I don’t know who did it, but for me those responsible are still Nestlé, Sevige and Dräxlmaier because they began acting belligerently toward me when we would go and protest at their plants,” Luis Daniel added.
He said that to his surprise, when he went back to the prosecutor’s office there was no record of the previous attack and officials decided not to investigate his case. “Then the same thing happened with human rights,” Luis Daniel describes, “This Mavio Ramírez Trejo laughs at me and says, ‘What did you expect?’”
Because of the deadly threats and the enormous out-of-pocket expenses to deal with his injuries and his car, he decided to end his activities with the “Pocilga.”
“My experience is proof that workers’ rights here are violated by companies, corrupt governments, corrupt human rights and corrupt conciliation and arbitration boards. They even refuse to comply with the corrupt contracts and deals they themselves imposed,” he remarked.