Review the “Thinking Critically” section – “When Globalization Comes Home: Maquiladoras South of the Border Please respond to all of the following prompts:
When Globalization Comes Home: Maquiladoras South of the Border
Two hundred thousand Mexicans rush to Juarez each year, fleeing the hopelessness of the rural areas in pursuit of a better life. They have no running water or plumbing, but they didn’t have any in the country either, and here they have the possibility of a job, a weekly check to buy food for the kids. The pay is $100 for a 48-hour work week, about $2 an hour (Harris 2008). This may not sound like much, but it is more than twice the minimum daily wage in Mexico. Assembly-for-export plants, known as maquiladoras, dot the Mexican border (Wise and Cypher 2007). The North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) allows U.S. companies to import materials to Mexico without paying tax and to then export the finished products into the United States, again without tax. It’s a sweet deal: few taxes and $17 a day for workers starved for jobs. That these workers live in shacks, with no running water or sewage disposal is not the employers’ concern. Nor is the pollution. The stinking air doesn’t stay on the Mexican side of the border. Neither does the garbage. Heavy rains wash torrents of untreated sewage and industrial wastes into the Rio Grande (Lacey 2007). There is also the loss of jobs for U.S.workers. Six of the fifteen poorest cities in the United States are located along the sewage-infested Rio Grande. NAFTA didn’t bring poverty to these cities.They were poor before this treaty, but residents resent the jobs they’ve seen move across the border (Thompson 2001). What if the maquiladora workers organize and demand better pay? Farther south, even cheaper labor beckons. Guatemala and Honduras will gladly take the maquiladoras. Mexico has already lost many of its maquiladora jobs to places where people even more desperate will work for even less (Brown 2008). Many Mexican politicians would say that this presentation is one-sided.“Sure there are problems,” they would say,“but that is always how it is when a country industrializes. Don’t
you realize that the maquiladoras bring jobs to people who have no work? They also bring roads, telephone lines, and electricity to undeveloped areas.” “In fact,” said Vicente Fox, when he was the president of Mexico,“workers at the maquiladoras make more than the
average salary in Mexico—and that’s what we call fair wages” (Fraser 2001). For Your Consideration Let’s apply our three theoretical perspectives. Conflict theorists say that capitalists try to weaken the bargaining power of workers by exploiting divisions among them. In what is known as the split labor market, capitalists pit one group of workers against another to lower the cost of labor. How do you think that maquiladoras fit this conflict perspective?