Fixing “Free Trade” Policies

Bad trade agreements that do not have worker protections and rely on moving manufacturing and production to low-wage areas of the world are resulting in a vicious spiral to the bottom, without a safety net for those displaced from their livelihoods nor job training programs to provide skills for new jobs.

a. Campaign to Stop the Passage of the Trans Pacific Partnership
The TPP is a free trade agreement among the United States and Pacific Rim countries. The objective is to create lower wage workshops to rival China’s. It is expected to overrule worker  and environmental protections, including in the United States. (Read more)

b. Exposing the Effects of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and the Central American Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA-DR)
After NAFTA was negotiated between the United States, Canada and Mexico and passed by Congress, almost immediately more than half-a-million factory jobs paying between $15 and $18 per hour were lost in the United States as companies shut down plants to move production and assembly across the border into Mexico where the minimum wage is $5 per day. In Mexico, more than 2 million people lost their livelihoods, were displaced off their lands and forced to move to the border areas to find work in the maquiladoras or by crossing into the United States. Mexican farmers with small plots of land and using handtools or ploughing animals could not compete with the U.S. corn agribusinesses, heavily mechanized and subsidized by the federal government, which dumped cheap corn on the Mexican market. (Read more)

c. Promote Cross Border Solidarity with Maquiladora Workers
More than 150 members of the first independent union in Juarez in 30 years held a workers assembly on February 7 to develop their proposed demands to Commscope, formerly known as ADC, a manufacturer of fiberoptic equipment for major telecommunication companies. (Read more)

Ciudad Juarez, across the border from El Paso Texas, is the location of many huge maquiladoras. A growing movement of maquiladoras workers is protesting their working conditions. (Read more)

People displaced from other parts of Mexico would arrive on the outskirts of Ciudad Juarez and find a plot of sand. They would rope together wooden pallets and tack on black roofing paper to make walls and stretch a vinyl tarp across for a roof. After they made some money in the maquiladoras, they would start making a cinder block wall. In this way, the neighborhood of Anapra began to develop. Many people come from close-knit villages where their people lived for thousands of years. In Anapra,they are strangers to each other. The grass-roots organization Las Hormigas Comunidad en Desarrollo (the Ants, a community in development) built a community center to organize programs and workshops to develop a sense of community in Anapra. Building a collective identity and relations between people is a necessary step to winning social change. (Read more)