A quarter century since joining the fight for worker rights in Mexico, the Solidarity Center celebrated the progress made amid reflections on the historic moment workers and their allies face in the country.
“The most important and promising independent union organizing in the world is happening right here, right now in Mexico,” Shawna Bader-Blau, Solidarity Center executive director, told those gathered in Mexico City for the anniversary celebration.
To mark the occasion, the Solidarity Center organized a week of activities to honor the work of partners from the independent Mexican trade union movement, strengthen transnational solidarity, examine the challenges that lie ahead and build a path toward a more just Mexico. From May 29 to June 1, trade union leaders and workers from across the country joined scholars and activists from Mexico and the United States, as well as representatives from both countries’ governments, to continue the collective work to ensure that recent labor law reforms and trade agreements put workers’ interests at the forefront.
After three years of historic change since the reforms, the emergence of a new generation of labor leaders demonstrates that Mexican workers hold it within themselves to build an inclusive and responsive labor movement. The Solidarity Center proudly recognized their achievements.
“It’s an honor to join together with so many brothers and sisters, with so many organizations that just a year ago did not exist and who are now working to strengthen freedom of association and collective bargaining in Mexico,” said Paolo Marinaro, Mexico country program director, speaking to allies as he introduced an international forum on the labor reforms held during the week.
Over its 25 years of work in Mexico, the Solidarity Center has supported grassroots organizing and lifted authentic worker voices to help dismantle a system that for too long ignored the plight of workers and catered to the interests of the rich and powerful. Today, more so than any time in the country’s history, the Mexican labor movement represents the full spectrum of Mexican workers. Over the course of the week, the diversity of Mexico’s new labor leaders did not go unnoticed.
“The Solidarity Center is honored to work with young workers, women-led unions, emerging and established democratic leadership, organizations formed by migrant and indigenous workers, and others who are revitalizing the Mexican labor movement and inspiring the global labor movement,” Bader-Blau said.
Mexico’s new and more representative labor unions have won path-breaking victories that have inspired a new wave of labor organizing in the country. With Solidarity Center support, in just the last year over 20,000 Mexican workers have negotiated strong contracts with historic wage increases and workplace protections. From St. Gobain workers in Cuautla, Morelos, to 3M workers in San Luis Potosí, the new independent labor movement continues to bring tangible benefits to a workforce long held in check through collusion between employers, the government and corrupt unions.
Despite these important victories, the promise of the labor reforms has not been fully realized. For that reason, the Solidarity Center begins its 26th year in Mexico committed to helping Mexican workers build the power necessary to create a more just economy and a more prosperous country.