Comité Fronterizo
de Obrer@s

CFO

For the labor rights and all human rights of the maquiladora workers

 
   
   
     
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Justicia!, the ethical clothing label and the Maquiladora Dignidad y Justicia

The Maquiladora Dignidad y Justicia (Dignity & Justice Maquiladora Co.) is a clothing manufacturer and wholesaler that makes mostly organic cotton products for export to the United States. Dignidad y Justicia was created in April 2004 in Piedras Negras, Coahuila, Mexico by the Comité Fronterizo de Obrer@s (CFO) a respected workers' center led by current and former maquiladora women workers. Our distributor in the U.S. is North Country Fair Trade (NCFT).

The business is being established to provide employment to women who lost their jobs in large maquiladoras in Piedras Negras owned by U.S. corporations. Those maquiladoras made clothing for Levi Strauss, Dickies, Disney, Warner Brothers, Oshkosh B'Gosh, John Henry, Manhattan, Sears' Canyon River Blues and several other brands. In the late 90s they closed out and moved their operations to locations where wages were even lower. Dignidad y Justicia seeks to create a model for worker management and ownership of production businesses. The Dignidad y Justicia workers often earn up to 100 percent more of what large global corporations pay in Mexico.

Legally, Dignidad y Justicia is classified under the Maquiladora Export Program which is the official system that defines trade regulations for all manufacturing investors in Mexico. By structuring Dignidad y Justicia this way, we are able to take advantage of NAFTA's provisions already in place.

We are currently producing organic cotton and conventional cotton t-shirts and tote bags, as well as organic cotton sweatshirts. Most of our products are exported to the US but we have recently begun selling to our local Mexican market.

Who created Dignidad y Justicia. The Comité Fronterizo de Obrer@s (CFO) has been a successful organizer and advocate for workers rights in maquiladora plants for more than 20 years in seven Mexican cities along the Mexico-U.S. border. It has taken the struggle for workers rights to corporate shareholder meetings in the United States and to the offices of corporate executives where the workers have expressed their grievances in person. In 2002, the CFO supported the creation of an independent democratic union in an Alcoa assembly plant in Piedras Negras with 1,600 workers.

While the CFO has succeeded in increasing wages, supporting union organizing, and protecting workers rights in the Mexican court system, it has limited ability to respond to plant closings except to secure severance payments for workers. Dignidad y Justicia is a first step in a strategy to create of a network of worker-owned and managed shops that provide employment to CFO members who have lost their jobs because of activism to demand their rights, or because the plants they work in have been closed.

Our marketing and business development partner. North Country Fair Trade provides a market in the United States for our products, financing, and technical assistance in the business start-up process. North Country Fair Trade is a 30% owner of Dignidad y Justicia based on its agreement to provide the production equipment needed by the workshop, and working capital for start-up costs. The women of D&J's shop are 40% owners of the business based on their investment of sweat equity. The CFO is a 30% owner based on its sponsorship, guidance and leadership, and administrative support for the business.

Our products. The Maquiladora Dignidad y Justicia began production of tote bags as its first product in September 2004 with three orders for a total of 1,000 bags. In 2005 the women started the production of T-shirts. We have gradually expanded our product line to include sweatshirts, designer apparel, and aprons. We look forward to the day when we are ready to produce fair trade blue jeans under the label Justicia!

Our expansion strategy. We began very modestly with a small group of former maquiladora women workers. In the first four years of operations more than 20 families benefited from Dignidad y Justicia.

We intend that the initial start-up investment will be gradually repaid into a revolving investment pool, available for financing additional workshops in Piedras Negras, Ciudad Acuña and other locations where the CFO also has a membership base.

In fact, our expansion plan has already begun! In 2007 we succeeded in creating a second shop of Dignidad y Justicia in Piedras Negras!

Maquiladora Dignidad y Justicia, and Comité Fronterizo de Obrer@s: www.cfomaquiladoras.org
Alma Leticia Puente Galindo, Ofelia Rodríguez, Rosy Vidaña, Herlinda Ruiz
The women of the Maquiladora Dignidad y Justicia

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www.cfomaquiladoras.org is produced in cooperation with the
Mexico-U.S Border Program
of the American Friends Service Committee (AFSC)

Comité Fronterizo de Obrer@s (CFO)
Monterrey #1103, Col. Las Fuentes
Piedras Negras, Coahuila
C.P. 26010, México