Escalating Threats Against Prieto, Firing of Workers She Represents Spotlight Failing Enforcement of USMCA Labor Standards
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Mexican labor leader Susana Prieto has issued an urgent public plea to Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO) as efforts to organize an independent union at a U.S. auto parts factory in Mexico have led to escalating attacks and a death threat. Prieto’s letter to AMLO and its annex with text threats is available in Spanish and English.
Prieto requested an urgent meeting with AMLO after escalating personal threats against her began with anonymous texts to her cellphone at Christmas time while the Tridonex workers she represents face ongoing harassment and firing. These actions violate the revised Mexican labor law and the protections provided under the revised North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), known as the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA), she writes.
Tridonex is a Matamoros subsidiary of Philadelphia car parts maker Cardone. The Tridonex workers’ efforts to replace a “protection” union with the independent National Independent Union of Industry and Service Workers (SNITIS) have been thwarted by local officials and by Tridonex, which continues to send money from workers’ paychecks to the corrupt union that the workers rejected.
“Workers are getting fired and threatened for trying to organize a union and their lawyer faces death threats after being falsely imprisoned, internally exiled, and her livelihood undermined because she was representing the Tridonex workers,” said Lori Wallach, director of Public Citizen’s Global Trade Watch. “This is a case of a right-wing Mexican governor colluding with a U.S. subsidiary to deny workers their core labor rights guaranteed in Mexican law and the revised NAFTA with workers being fired for trying to form an independent union and their lawyer imprisoned, exiled and now receiving death threats.”
In her letter describing the collusion between the governors of Mexican states Tamaulipas and Chihuahua, criminal gangs and corrupt “protection” unions, Prieto writes: “I request, Mr. President, a new meeting to explain to you in detail what has happened since [our last meeting] and the shocking situation I face, not only with respect to my liberty, but my very life.”
Prieto was imprisoned in June 2020 by the state government of Tamaulipas after years of organizing workers in factories along the U.S.-Mexico border. She was released on conditions that prevent her from continuing her labor advocacy, and that required her to move to the Mexican state of Chihuahua, where the government has also issued a similar warrant for her arrest.
“You know better than anyone about the age-old marriage that exists between the authorities and criminal organizations in Tamaulipas, as well as the political and business collusion that flourish not only here, but in Chihuahua, my home state: a convergence of illegal interests that drives the persecution of which I am the target and that devastates me,” Prieto wrote to AMLO..
In August more than 100 members of Congress sent a letter to AMLO urging him to ensure Mexican state governments drop politically motivated charges against Prieto. The letter also urged Mexico to ensure states comply with the labor rights guaranteed by the USMCA.
Despite international attention, Prieto said that the threats against her safety are getting worse. As the letter concludes, “I hope you can receive me as soon as possible, and that you are aware that my life is in danger if the Mexican State refuses to protect me.”