has a heart-rending and horrifying story
today by a Mexican woman who lost both of her hands while on the job. The victim herself, Rosa Moreno, is the author and relates to us her story of corporate callousness and neglect, compounded by failed justice systems on both sides of the border.
She worked manufacturing flat screen TVs at a plant that subcontracted to LG Electronics, a global name in consumer appliances and electronic goods. Unsurprisingly, there was supervisor pressure to speed up production, coupled with heavy balky machinery, and the inevitable happened: her hands were trapped inside an enormous machine, crushed flat and fused to the piece of metal she had been cutting.
Eventually taken to a hospital, both of her hands were amputated. After rejecting the initial settlement offer of HD Electronics, the subcontractor, for $3,800, she finally was awarded $14,400 for her injuries; hardly a princely sum and certainly inadequate to compensate for a permanent loss that may leave her unable to ever work again.
Rosa has 6 children dependent on her as a single mother. Without hands, there is no way she can make a living doing the kind of manual labor which had been her financial support for years. She desperately wants, and needs, prosthetic hands, which would allow her to resume some kind of gainful employment to sustain her family. But the meager settlement would not have been enough for that even if she had not had to use it to keep her children clothed and fed.
Her efforts to seek meaningful compensation via the courts in both Mexico and the U.S. (her employer's home office is in Texas) have so far been thwarted. Remember the beginning of this diary where I used the word "callousness"? Here's what she was told by one lawyer: “Go up to the international bridge and put a cup out and people will help you.”
LG Electronics had a net profit of $474.8 million
last year, up by 125% from the previous year. They achieved that at least in part by using developing world subcontractors to pay workers like Rosa just $400 per month and skimping on worker safety and benefits. Shareholders and CEOs profit off of the misery and poverty of workers rather than investing a fraction of their gains in improving the safety and living standards of their laborers.
This is the world of NAFTA, CAFTA, KORUS, and the soon-to-be TPP. The endless chase to the bottom, moving manufacturing to the countries that have the lowest standards (if any) for wages, labor safety, union organizing and workers' rights will only mean many more Rosas in the future. Two of our proposed TPP partners have appalling records of labor abuses and human rights violations bordering on slave labor: I'm looking at you, Vietnam and Malaysia.
Public Justice, an organization that fights for worker rights, environmental concerns, product safety, and more, has taken up the task of publicizing Rosa's case. We can only hope their efforts will lead to real justice for her in the future.
In comments at The Guardian site, someone suggested that a GoFundMe campaign be started to help Rosa get prosthetic hands. I think that would be a wonderful project for DKers if anyone is savvy about how to do it and willing to volunteer.
8:04 AM PT: I contacted Public Justice earlier to find out if a funding campaign already exists for Rosa. Their communications director, Steve Ralls, just got back to me and said that he would contact her attorney to find out and then let me know. He informed me that Public Justice is not acting as her attorney in this matter but is working to publicize her story as widely as possible, including awarding her "...the Illuminating Injustice Award – which Rosa will receive on July 13 – was established to highlight particularly egregious cases where a wronged party has been unable to receive the compensation they deserve."
12:40 PM PT: Help Rosa with your donation. Steve of Public Justice emailed me:
There are two pages where donations can be made. I have confirmed that gifts via either site will be sent directly to Rosa:
(The 2nd site is managed by Alan Pogue, the photographer who did the photos in today's Guardian op-ed. Alan gave The Guardian permission to use the photos for free, and has been very involved in trying to get Rosa's story told.)
Thanks also to Paul Bland for Public Justice who noted this in one of the comments below.