Auto workers plan series of border protests

United Auto Workers made the long trip from Michigan to the Valley to protest what they call unfair trade agreements that are causing them to lose their jobs.

UAW members are uniting and coming together specifically to protest the North American Free Trade Act known as NAFTA or "Free Trade".

The center stage took place Monday afternoon at the Hidalgo-Reynosa Port of Entry.

The protestors slowed down traffic headed to the Hidalgo-Reynosa International Bridge chanting, "Make fair trade agreement!" or "I'm currently on unemployment" or "Free isn't fair, equality for all workers" and "Free trade is not fair!"

The group said they made a 27-hour long trip to the Rio Grande Valley because UAW members to say they and their families are the victims of devastating trade policies.

Former General Motors employee Andrea Gonzalez told Action 4 News that jobs are being sent over across the border because of unfair trade agreements like the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).

"As of Friday I've received a letter of indefinite layoff, I have no return to work day, I've worked for this employer for almost 14 years!!!" Gonzalez told Action 4 News.

They say they're demonstrating because plants are closing and some people are running away with government bailouts while on the other hand they're leaving workers on the street.

John Zimmick is a UAW Local 174 member and trip organizer who says they're losing jobs every single day because of unfair trade agreements.

"And the members of the UAW Local 174 are not going to go down lightly, they want to come down and protest these borders" Zimmick emphasized.

Bob Palmer told Action 4 News people in Michigan are struggling.

"Mortgages aren't getting paid, people are losing their homes left and right, you can see foreclosures all over the place," Palmer said.

Matt Slade also made the trip but believes it's a global issue.

"We have a situation where they take it to Mexico, and then they go to China, it's globalized waste control," he said.

Workers are uniting against NAFTA for wiping away all their jobs in Michigan and in America.

"Even the mom and pop shops, the independent parts suppliers are suffering right now, it's everybody's job, union or non-union, this is about everybody's job" Zimmick said.

Karen Darnell said she agrees.

"I've actually been recently laid off," she said adding that are not only losing their homes, but they're losing their jobs to Mexico.

This group of UAW members said this is why they're protesting not only at the Hidalgo-Reynosa International crossing, but in San Diego, El Paso and Canada, making their voices heard before their homes become "ghost towns" in Michigan.

Action 4 News has also learned that another protest by TRW workers took place south of the border in Reynosa.

Organizers said A much larger protest is planned and is to take place Tuesday at the Veteran's International Bridge in Brownsville.