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Attitudes and Strategies Inhibiting the Unionization of the Maquiladora Industry: Government, Industry, Unions and Workers

Edward J. Williams


The unionization of the maquiladora industry has fallen upon difficult times. The definition of union organization varies from one analyst to another, but the general trend is unmistakable. The data for this study show a decline from about 40 percent to approximately 33 percent of the industry's work force from 1979 to 1990. Another estimate posits a decline from 33 percent to 15 percent from 1980 to 1990 (The U.S.-Mexico Report June 1990:3). Including company unions (sindicatos blancos) in the estimate probably explains a large part of the difference, but, to reiterate, the general tendency is clearly defined.

This article describes and analyzes how the attitudes and strategies of four major actors have militated against the effective unionization of the maquiladora industry in Mexico. It centers upon (1) the Mexican government's relationship to the industry and to Mexican organized labor; (2) the industry's attitudes on the organization of the industry and its strategies to oppose unionization; (3) organized labor's attitudes and strategies; and (4) the assembly plant workers' reactions to the industry and labor union leaders.

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Print ISSN: 0886-5655
Online ISSN: 2159-1229