Jorge Parra started working as a welder at General Motors’ Colmotores plant in Colombia in 2001. For nine years, he worked 10 to 12 hour shifts, 6 days a week, lifting auto parts and machinery that can each weigh hundreds of pounds. He complained about pains, but doctors in the factory clinic kept sending him back to work. Then one day in 2010, at the end of a shift, he couldn’t move.
Even after surgery, Parra, who’s only 36, had trouble walking, standing, or using his hands. Then, just as he was recovering, GM fired him. He discovered that more than 200 workers had also been injured and fired. Many of these workers banded together and started demanding compensation, but GM refused to negotiate with them in good faith. So in November, Parra went on hunger strike and stitched his lips shut until GM agrees to sit down with workers and negotiate.
In days, Parra will confront GM executives directly, at the North American International Auto Show, a massive auto industry trade show in Detroit that attracts media attention from all over the globe. We’d like to make sure he goes to the Auto Show with tens of thousands of signatures of SumOfUs.org members in hand, so we can show GM that its customers and potential customers expect it to treat its workers fairly.
Sign our petition to GM CEO Daniel Akerson demanding that he meet with injured Colombian workers and offer fair restitution.
All these workers want is a chance to work and support their families and a guarantee that their former coworkers won’t be injured and discarded. They’re demanding that GM take financial responsibility for ex-workers' medical care related to on-the-job injuries, help reintegrate them into the workforce with less physically demanding jobs, and institute new safety measures to prevent future injuries. They’re also demanding union representation, which protects GM’s American employees from the worst labor abuses that Colombian workers face.
Injured Colmotores workers have already been fighting for nearly two years. In 2011 the workers set up a makeshift camp outside the American embassy in Colombia. After a three week-long hunger strike in August, GM finally agreed to negotiations. But negotiators from the company refused to even consider letting the workers back into the plant. GM’s only offer was a monetary settlement that didn’t even cover upcoming surgeries.
With negotiations failing, the workers instead decided to take their fight to the United States -- to the Detroit Auto Show, and GM executives directly.
Stand with these brave workers - sign our petition to GM and we’ll get it to Jorge Parra so he can show GM its customers are standing with its workers and demanding justice.