Living Wage Rights
The idea of a "living wage" suggests that a person working a normal work week (about 40-50 hours) should earn enough money to meet the basic needs of shelter, food, medical care and entertainment with just enough left over to save for vacation, extraordinary and/or emergency expenses. The idea of a living wage is different from the minimum wage which is a standard set in the U.S. by federal law for the work hour and which often does not meet the basic needs of typical workers. Maquiladora workers hired in Mexico often struggle to secure a living wage from their employers, often American companies that fled the U.S. to avoid paying union (living) wages. The typical complaint about wages and work hours heard from maquiladora workers is that they work long and hard (50-75 hours pers week) for so little in return (about 50-75 dollars per week) and that the wages only meet the bare necessities, leaving such essentials as school supplies and quality fresh meat and vegetables in the category of luxury items.
Medea Benjamin, Time for a Living Wage Around the World (Global Exchange).
AFSC Newsletter Women's
Ways of Organizing
Raúl Ramírez Baena,
Workers Can't Meet Basic Needs on Plant Wages, reprinted from
Frontera Norte-Sur, July 6, 2001
The Living Wage Campaign
The Living Wage Action Coalition
Saul Landau, Maquilas: A Tale of Two Mexicos (Review)
"CFO Border Trip" by Heather
In October 1999, a group of Austin
residents took a trip to Piedras Negras, Coahuila, to meet a group of
women who work in the maquiladoras and who use popular education techniques
to empower each other on how to use Mexican labor law and survival strategies
for confronting abuse, unfair firings and anti-democratic harassment by
Morristown: In the Air and Sun (video clip fromTRAILER)
A documentary look at globalization and outsourcing to Mexico
by filmmaker Anne Lewis
Independent filmmaker Anne Lewis'
Morristown Project has compiled personal narratives about life, work, disappointment
and hope on both sides of the border under the effect of unregulated free trade and NAFTA. An initial part of the project gathered "video letters/video cartas" from workers who had lost jobs in Eastern Tennesee to Workers in Mexico.
Anne Lewis documentaries on globalization can be used for popular education and labor organizing. The common threads in the voices
of the factory, maquiladora and farm workers are poverty, migration, landlessness,
invisibility, job insecurity and the need to organize against and critique
the globalized economy.
For information on obtaining copies
contact Anne Lewis through her website at http://www.annelewis.org
Comité Fronterizo de Obreras
This workers group has volunteers in five cities at the Mexican border
and is daily confronting the issue of living wage rights for maquiladora
The Living Wage Action Coalition
B O O K S
Barbara Ehrenreich and Arlie Russell Hochschild, Global Woman: Nannies, Maids, and Sex Workers in the New Economy (pbk) 0-8070-7509 (2004) (an amazing collection of personal histories of migrant laboring women who leave their homes in Third World countries for jobs as domestic servants, nannies, prostitutes and nursemaids).
William P. Quigley, Ending Poverty As We Know It (2003).
Written by a law professor the book dramatizes the impact of the unregulated global economy. As we approach the second decate of the 21st century the nation is having to re-think the policies and values that have supported free trade without regard for workers' rights or that profitability should not lead to huge gaps between the rich and the poor, whether in the U.S.A. or the poorer countries American companies have relocated to.
Howard Zinn and Stephen Pimpare, A People's History of Poverty in America (2008) .
Barbara Ehrenreich, Nickel and Dimed or (Not) Getting By in America (2001, 2008).