Presentation by Susana Prieto Terrazas at the San Francisco Living Wage Coalition “Reclaiming Cinco de Mayo” event

Translation by Jonathan Rocha Zamora

Good afternoon, thank you for joining us on this special day. Today is a very special day for Mexicans especially for the ones that live in the United States because many of us question ourselves in Mexico why the celebration of May 5th is so important for Mexicans that reside in foreign countries. Could it be the independence or the revolution, or any other date in our country? Precisely May 5th commemorates Mexico’s victory over the Second French Empire at the Battle of Puebla in 1862. Workers that reside as immigrants in the United states value this date very much and therefore I am very thankful for being invited to come out and talk about the battle of union in the north of the country because like I said it’s very important that the independent movement of workers and industry services movement 20/32 emerged as the first labor union that establishes that it is independent and democratic, that is to organize the workers from the industrial sector including the automotive.  

Anyone can participate in a union and I want to say that it is the first to be represented by a woman general secretary Rosa Moreno. Now the 20/32 has accomplished their second victory. First, they won the election at the company Tridonex which is where they make brakes in Matamoros, Tamaulipas. Last week at Panasonic which is dedicated to making radios and screens for automotives, located in Reynosa, Tamaulipas, the workers won an election for the consistent representation of the independent labor union for workers of industrial and services movement 20/32.

In Tridonex, we have gone ahead and had a major vote on the worker contract. Like always the ZM has proposed a shelter that has no possibility of winning and has been considered for suspension and to lead the union 20/32. We have imposed a complaint that has to be resolved that within a month or month and a half we can be replacing a strike for a cognitive contract for work. Historically, the representatives of the company Panasonic and Tridonex have tried to negotiate the representative Rosario Moreno general secretary from SNITIS. These cognitive contracts of work that look for bettering the conditions of living of the workers has been a fight that has cost us. It has taken me to prison by the Tamaulipas governor, who followed me and threaten to charge me with a crime. He sent me to prison and finally he prohibited me from entry into the state of Tamaulipas. I would not be able to live in any state except Chihuahua. During the span of two and a half years, we have had workers that have fallen in the battle. For example, at Panasonic last week, workers got into a physical altercation with Alberto Lara who is the leader of a union. There are two workers who are afraid to say anything about it because they know that Alberto Lara is protected by the government. The fight is against the “white unions” [editor’s note that the name is derived from being a union on paper only] of the foreign corrupt companies in Mexico. But for us, it is still an honor to be part of the democratic, independent union. I have the opportunity to represent workers as the legal advisor of the independent union of 20/32. Now it is the lawyers that I find to ligate because right now I am representing as a federal duty of Congress [she is an elected deputy to the national Congress of Mexico]. Well, we have a tribute that all the workers across the country understand that they have recognition of their rights. We now have many companies like Tridonex and Panasonic. We have General Motors. Those are clear examples that where is corruption within the “white” labor unions in this country, it is possible to bring them down. It can make visible a new form of unions in this country. For the workers to refrain from industrial strikes as the only tool to improve their wages and lives, would be for representatives to respond clearly about their wages, to fight for their rights, and for their wages to increase every year; to construct daycare facilities and schools, to provide scholarships, to pay teachers decently; for there to be enough schools, and to have a better life. I am very grateful that there continues to be forums so that all workers from the United States and Mexico become one. That is why we are brother countries. That way we can all accomplish better salaries and living conditions and most importantly the strategy of the organization and the fight will stay for the next generation so that there is not one worker in the fields or city that does not know about their labor rights and find a way to exercise them to be better off every day. Thank you very much for the invitation to this event.