MCALLEN, RGV – Maquiladoras along the U.S.-Mexico border are short 65,000 workers, according to a report by INDEX, the maquila trade association.

In Reynosa, the vacancy rate is 13,000, while in Matamoros it is 6,000.

Mexican president-elect Andrés Manuel López Obrador is pictured with Luisa Maria Alcalde, his pick for minister of labor.

INDEX has voiced its concerns about labor shortages to Luisa Maria Alcalde, the attorney and former legislator who is slated to become minister of labor and social welfare in the new Andrés Manuel López Obrador administration.

Enrique Castro

Details on the shortage of workers were explained by Enrique Castro, president of INDEX Reynosa, at a recent McAllen Economic Development Corporation board meeting. The issue was also addressed at a recent INDEX Reynosa meeting held at the Cimarron Club in Mission.

“It is very serious, the maquilas along the border have lost a lot of their workers to the maquilas in the interior of Mexico,” said Carlos Martinez, a former manufacturing plant manager in Reynosa who now helps South Texas College with its workforce training programs. 

“There are a lot of new manufacturing plants opening but there are not enough workers.”

Carlos Martinez

Martinez was at the INDEX Reynosa meeting at the Cimarron Club. He explained how bad the labor market is in Reynosa at a recent LIVE at Bob’s show hosted by the Rio Grande Guardian at Bob’s Steak & Chop House in Edinburg. 

“There is an opportunity for our workers to pick up good paying jobs at the maquila plants,” Martinez told the Rio Grande Guardian.

At the MEDC board meeting, INDEX Reynosa President Enrique Castro shared with the Rio Grande Guardian the latest vacancy rates for border cities that have a high number of maquilas.

Castro’s list, which has been circulated by INDEX, reads:

Tijuana – 18,506 workers short

Cd. Juárez – 14,000 workers short

Reynosa – 13,005 workers short

Acuña – 3,500 workers short

Piedras Negras – 2,500 workers short

Chihuahua – 2,500 workers short

Mexicali – 2,000 workers short

Laredo – 1,800 workers short

Nogales – 1,300 workers short.

The list distributed by Castro did not include Matamoros. Francisco Galvan, international trade director for the State of Tamaulipas, told the Rio Grande Guardian that the shortage in Matamoros was 6,000.

“There is a serious shortage of workers,” Galvan said.

At the MEDC meeting, INDEX Reynosa’s Castro explained how discussions with the likely new labor minister in Mexico had gone.

“We met with the new secretary, Luisa Maria Alcalde. She is 32 year old. She wants to bring 2.6 million new kids into the labor force, give them a scholarship of 2,600 pesos a month and send them to the maquiladoras especially, because we are one of the biggest employers,” Castro told the MEDC board of directors.

“That is nice but you have to implement through a system. We are pretty good as well-structured companies but you just can’t bring somebody in without having social security and all the legal things that are involved. So, we are working with them.”

Editor’s Note: The main image accompanying the above story shows the Black & Decker plant in Reynosa, Tamaulipas.