Cross-Border Labor Organizing in the Garment and Automobile Industries: The Phillips Van-Heusen and Ford Cuautitlan Cases

Ralph Armbruster

Abstract


The globalization of the world economy has created new opportunities for cross-border labor organizing. In this paper I examine two case studies of cross -border labor organizing. One case involves Phillips Van-Hernen (PVH) workers in Guatemala City, and the other Ford automobile workers in Cuautitlan, Mexico. The PVH case illustrates the potential for cross-border labor organizing in the highly mobile garment industry. The PVH workers' union and their cross-border allies adopted a "strategic cross-border organizing model" that included consumer and trade pressure, an active international trade secretariat, and several other strategies, to achieve an amazing victory. However, the Ford Cuautitlan case demonstrates that corporatist state-labor relations and internal union conflicts have limited cross-border organizing in the automobile industry. These two case studies and their different outcomes have many important lessons for academics and activists interested in cross-border labor organizing.

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.5195/jwsr.1998.164

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Copyright (c) 2015 Ralph Armbruster

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