Sobre pasando las líneas
Crossing the Line

Sobre pasando la línea/Crossing the Line

80 minutes    Subtitles in English or Spanish
Alternate Stories from 18 to 36 Mins. in length
for class room use. See Details

Produced and directed by Bill Jungels

From children with birth defects in Matamoros, Mexico to discarded injured workers in Yakima, Washington and boarded up factories in Waterloo, Ontario, the documentary looks at some examples of how workers in Mexico, Canada and the US have fared under NAFTA. But even more, it looks at how they are inventing modes of cross-border alliance and organization in order to deal with the corporations’ abilities to cross borders. Over a four year period several struggles are followed showing efforts to create alliances despite resistance from governments, businesses and official unions and despite cultural differences. 

  • Best of Festival-Documentary category, Berkeley Video & Film Festival, 2004
  • Bronze Award, Columbus International Film & Video Festival, 2004
  • Screening, San Antonio Cine Festival, 2004

Features of the DVD

  • 80 minute documentary
  • Six "alternate stories" (18-36 mins.) See Details
  • English, Spanish and dual language subtitles
  • 40 page study guide (download)
  • Chapter selection
  • Bonus chapter
  • Fully bilingual (Spanish menus in players set up for it)

Features of the VHS Tape

  • English subtitles for parts in Spanish
  • 40 page study guide (download)

Download 40+ Page Study Guide for
Crossing The Line

(1.1 Meg)
Acrobat Reader Required


Click image to download Study Guide

      Online and Offline Order forms      
Universities/Colleges price: $139
High School/Union/NGO/Public Library price: $74

A Short Synopsis of
Sobre pasando la línea/Crossing the Line

The documentary consists of a series of interwoven related stories.

The opening story shows Mexican workers from Mexico City telling a U.S. labor board how their attempt to form an independent union was crushed by the company, Echlin, in collaboration with the Mexican “official union”, the CTM. We see how a Mexican union, the FAT, and a U.S. union, the EU, have collaborated to bring this story before the tribunal.

After a view of May Day celebrations in Mexico City where we guage the strength of the emerging confederation of more independent unions we take a short look at the Han Young workers in Tijuana, carrying on a similar struggle with the help of a San Diego based, Support Committee for Maquiladora Workers.

We then move to the other coast of the U.S.A./Mexico border where worker in Matamoros tell of the chemicals they are exposed to on the job and the deaths and birth defects of their children that they have learned may be caused by these toxins. We see how the chemical exposure carries over into the communities as the effluents of the maquiladoras drain through their neighborhoods.

To show that complaints filed under the NAFTA side agreement go both ways across the borders, we move to Yakima, Washington.The Mexican NAFTA tribunal has found that the U.S. fails to apply the protection of its labor laws to agricultural workers there. We hear from apple pickers, leaders of the United Farm Workers, sympathetic labor leaders from Canada and Brazil and an industry representative.

Custom Trim workers in Valle Hermosa work for the same company as many of the workers that we heard from in Matamoros. We follow the story of Custom Trim in Canada where the company started and Mexico, where it has moved to take advantage of lower wages and friendly “official unions”. As Canadian workers lose their jobs and Mexican workers struggle to organize for better conditions, the two manage to get together and support one another.

The Coalition for Justice in the Maquiladoras  coordinated the struggles of the workers in Matamoros and nearby Valle Hermosa and now we see the workers testifying together in a complaint filed by the CJM with the U.S. labor tribunal or NAO. Although the NAO  finds in their favor, the workers are bitterly disappointed when the Department of Labor fails to impose any penalty on Mexico.

After a brief look at the future for workers as projected by new trade pacts such at Plan Puebla Panama, the Free Trade Area of the Americas and The Central American Free trade agreement, the documentary concludes that toothless accords like the NAFTA Labor Side Agreement are no protection for workers. Workers are going to have to continue to create world-wide links and to fight for meaningful inclusion in all future agreements.

Return to Las líneas Home
Links to Bill Jungels' personal pages