They experienced harrowing working conditions, and after the Bellville plant was closed in 1972 and its workers relocated to Mexico, they decided to join the movement to bring back production jobs.
It is now called Veracruz Bucks Clothing.
“They made a conscious choice and moved from the factory that was closing to Veracruz Mexico which was also shut down,” said Rob Barnes, the father of Robert Barnes, who left Bellville in 1962.
Rob Barnes owns Veracruz Bucks. He was born and raised in the Buffalo, N.Y., area. He said he was a close friend of the union members at Bellville. He returned east in 1979 to start his family’s business there in 1975, and the family remained in Bellvale until 2011.
Chuy Ililio’s mom and his Anaya’s dad. Others Kat learned of when they would travel to New York to search for work.
When Veracruz Bucks workers went on strike in 2011 to protest their working conditions, they were unafraid to speak out.
“I don’t think I ever heard a condescending manner or attitude from any person in any seat in the United States Congress that made me believe that we were protesting against them or just for our size,” Steve Garner told The Buffalo News after Friday’s protest.
Some of Veracruz Bucks’ employees have migrated to Buffalo to register for the union.
The union that first tapped Ililio as the strike line leader was the United Steelworkers of America. Even the United Food & Commercial Workers and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers had offices in Buffalo when they formed the 675 workers union union. Now their South Florida representative, Pat Reed, is at the forefront of multinational fashion brands’ push to exit.
While still paying Mexico wages, Reed is picking up the tab for the shoppers. He wants Congress to change visa spending rules so import tariffs can be cut.
“Some industries or local governments must change the way they work because of [import taxes]. They can relocate. But they can’t stay there and not go out and fight for change,” Reed said. “That’s important if we are going to have a new, engines that come in. They have to be in a new environment.”
Reed welcomes protests against Donald Trump’s policies, including his proposed price cuts on federal contracts.
“The people will have a chance to say ‘Hey, this is a chance I want to take a stand and make a change,'” Reed said.
News connected with Robert Barnes talked about his friend Rob Barnes back in 1972, when the workers staged a labor strike at a warehouse in Bellville, N.Y. They asked the law firm Hyman Roth to represent the workers including himself.
Lauren Mashburn is an award-winning reporter that covers the border for PBS’ NewsHour. Her current reporting focuses on the Border Advantage Initiative, an initiative funded by the Obama administration that the United States government launched in 2014. Mashburn said most of the people in Baja are U.S. citizens and lawful immigrants let in under the same rules as immigrants from other countries with no criminal records.
“We’ve legalized daily millions of people who have never been an undocumented person before,” Mashburn said. “These people are here to pay their taxes, to support their families, to work, to organize, to play, and that’s the message that they want to send to Congress right now.”
Mashburn said Veracruz Bucks has the highest per capita rate of undocumented immigrants among U.S. border towns. More than half a million people of Mexican descent live in the western New York county and they are delving into businesses at a rate that will take jobs away from low-wage legal U.S. workers.
“I don’t think there is a really strong correlation between the actual service count that the [economic] contribution that a trade guide equates with,” she said. “I think they do service businesses pretty well because even though they are not unionized there have been long-standing relationships with Amazon and the people who work for Amazon are really good at what they do. But it is just like when you’re hiring a contractor every part is important. Good writers, good drive, and really good service because of that.”
While Mashburn said Veracruz is in every way the best place to be an undocumented immigrant she said the Trump campaign is sending a searing message to everyone.
“Based on his role as his communication director during the Republican primaries Donald Trump called Mexican immigrants ‘rapists,’ and his proposals could prove to be dramatically large savings for the Border Patrol,” Mashburn said.