Prime Time for North American Worker Solidarity
NLF Highlights for February
Since 1994, when the North American Free Trade Agreement went into force, workers in all three countries covered by the trade agreement took a hit in one form or another. The US and Canada saw jobs going south, while in Mexico, where many of these manufacturing jobs went, wages and work conditions saw no improvement in an environment dominated by “protection unions” that merely reinforce the status quo. The winners in this deal, on both sides of the border, were employers.
Jeff Hermanson’s article in the winter 2023 issue of New Labor Forum sheds light on a changing scenario. In recent months, workers in Mexico won major election victories at General Motors and Tridonex, defeating protection unions to form genuine, democratic unions. Hermanson details the story of how the present moment– with a more labor-friendly president in both the US and Mexico, the vastly improved new US-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA), and labor law reform in Mexico – offer real and exciting opportunities for cross-border solidarity.
Table of Contents
- Mexican Labor’s New Deal and the Promise of North American Worker Solidarity – Jeffery Hermanson, New Labor Forum
- Reinventing Solidarity Episode 39 – “Still Broke: Walmart’s Remarkable Transformation and the Limits of Socially Conscious Capitalism,” a book interview with Rick Wartzman
- “THE SOUTH: Jim Crow and its Afterlives” – Wednesday, February 7, 2023, 12PM – 1PM , CUNY SLU Virtual Event
- “The Tuskegee Student Uprising” – Wednesday, February 16, 2023, 6:30PM – 7:30PM , CUNY SLU Virtual Event
Mexican Labor’s New Deal and the Promise of North American Worker Solidarity
By Jeffery Hermanson, New Labor Forum
Recent political and institutional changes in the United States, Canada, and Mexico, especially the changes in Mexican labor law encouraged by the process of renegotiating NAFTA and enacting the new U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA), have opened the way for transformation of the Mexican labor relations regime. Opportunities now exist for workers and unions in all three countries to jointly oppose efforts of employers to use the integration of the three economies to weaken the Mexican, Canadian, and U.S. labor movements. Such an alliance also presents the opportunity to reverse the depression of wages and poor working conditions of workers across the U.S., Canadian, and Mexican borders.
Read the full article here
Author Rick Wartzman describes Walmart’s decade-long effort at reforms in response to ubiquitous criticism. Low-wage labor was a chief focus of that criticism and of Walmart’s self-transformation. Partly as a result, the average Walmart worker now earns an hourly wage just above $17 an hour. While this well exceeds the minimum wage, it still means that the average full-time worker earns just under $32,000 a year. Milkman and Wartzman explore what this and other reforms suggest about the systemic failures of capitalism in the 21st century.
Listen here: SLU.CUNY.EDU/PODCAST