Report backs from the Frontlines of Strikes in Mexico and the U.S.

On February 28, 2019, the Center for Global Workers Rights hosted a forum on “Workers in Revolt: Report backs from the Frontlines of the Recent Mexican Maquiladoras and U.S. Teachers’ Strikes.”
Report backs from the Frontlines of Strikes in Mexico and the U.S.

Postdoctoral Scholar Paolo Marinaro and assistant professor Becky Tarlau discuss recent strikes of Mexican factory workers and U.S. teachers.

By Becky Tarlau

On February 28, 2019, the Center for Global Workers Rights hosted a forum on “Workers in Revolt: Report backs from the Frontlines of the Recent Mexican Maquiladoras and U.S. Teachers’ Strikes.” Paolo Marinaro, Postdoctoral Scholar at the Center for Global Workers’ Rights and Rebecca Tarlau, Assistant Professor affiliated with the Center for Global Workers’ Rights, presented on their participant observation in two of the most important strikes of 2019. In Mexico, on February 7, after an almost one-month strike, 30,000 maquiladora workers in Matamoros, Tamaulipas, on the border with Texas, achieved a significant wage increase in 45 factories, mostly operating in the automotive sector. In the United States, on January 14, 34,000 teachers in Los Angeles went on strike for the first time in 30 years with immense community support, and after six-days they won all of their demands, including pay increases, lower class sizes, more staffing, and--perhaps most significantly--policy limits on charter expansion. Paolo and Becky’s presentations focused on the strategic innovations of these extraordinary mobilizations in Mexico and the U.S. Beyond their January start dates, significant similarities between these strikes included their bottom-up activism, which was in tension with established union leaderships; the primary role of social media; the utilization of direct actions not typical of either union; broad community support; the fact that both strikes led to larger strike waves in each country; and finally, the potential reconfigurations of union-State relations in both countries. The strike report back also illustrates that the faculty at the Center for Global Workers’ Rights are at the forefront of researching real workers’ struggles, in diverse contexts, with global consequences!