Changes in the global economy have real and contradictory outcomes for the everyday lives of women workers. In 2001, Nancy Plankey-Videla had a rare opportunity to witness these effects firsthand. Having secured access to one of Latin America's top producers of high-end men's suits in Mexico for participant-observer research, she labored as a machine operator for nine months on a shop floor made up, mostly, of women. The firm had recently transformed itself from traditional assembly techniques, to lean, cutting-edge, Japanese-style production methods. Lured initially into the firm by way of increased wages and benefits, workers had helped shoulder the company's increasing debts. When the company's plan for successful expansion went awry and it reneged on promises it had made to the workforce, women workers responded by walking out on strike.
Building upon in-depth interviews with over sixty workers, managers, and policy makers, Plankey-Videla documents and analyzes events leading up to the female-led factory strike and its aftermath—including harassment from managers, corrupt union officials and labor authorities, and violent governor-sanctioned police actions. We Are in This Dance Together
illustrates how the women's shared identity as workers and mothers—deserving of dignity, respect, and a living wage—became the basis for radicalization and led to further civic organizing against the state, the company, and the corrupt union to demand justice.