Mexican workers at Delphi air concerns over pay, issues

Mexican workers come to the United States to push for better pay and working conditions.
WARREN -- A couple of Mexican workers making about $1.50 an hour intend to question a senior Delphi Automotive Systems executive here Wednesday.
At the company's annual meeting, the women want chairman J.T. Battenberg to say if he supports the pay and working conditions at the Delphi plant where they work or if local management is hiding the truth from senior officials.
At a press conference Monday in Warren, the women listed these concerns:
UAverage pay of $61 for a 48-hour workweek. The average cost of groceries there for a family of four is $120 a week, they said.
UPayments for company-sponsored housing takes up 30 percent of pay. Deductions are made once every two months, leaving workers with a paycheck of just a few dollars the week when the deductions are made.
UNot being able to sit while they work, even when equipment is idle during a model change. Chairs have been taken away and chained together, they said.
UNot being able to take a bathroom break without a supervisor's approval.
"It's time for us to be respected by the company," said Lourdes Tenorio, a union official in a Delphi Delco Electronics plant in Reynosa, Mexico.
The International Union of Electrical Workers Local 717, which represents workers at Delphi Packard Electric Systems, was host Monday to Tenorio, another worker and an official with the Border Committee of Women. Today, the women were to meet with officials at Delco's headquarters in Kokomo, Ind.
The workers hold Delphi stock, so they intend to speak at Delphi's annual meeting Wednesday at Kent State University Trumbull campus. Michigan-based Delphi rotates its annual meeting among its divisions. Packard, which makes wiring harnesses, is based locally and has about 7,000 hourly and salaried workers in the area.
Tenorio works at a plant that makes air conditioners and brakes for a variety of automakers. Delphi, which has 67,000 workers in Mexico, is that country's largest private employer, said Ricardo Hernandez of the American Friends Service Committee, which is aiding the women.
Tenorio said there have been strikes at Mexican plants and they have improved conditions. She said many workers at her plant want to strike but she wants to give the company a chance to respond to their concerns.
Milton Beach, a Delco spokesman, said he didn't want to comment publicly but officials will talk with the women about their concerns today.
Local 717 formed a committee three years ago to work more closely with the Mexican workers, said Tony Budak, committee chairman. The union has assisted the Mexicans by sharing health and safety measures and tips on negotiating, he said.
Local 717 officials think cooperation between unions in both countries is the best way to prevent the two groups from being pitted against each other, which forces down wages, he said.

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