As Carmen and a million other maquiladora workers produce televisions, electrical cables, toys, clothes, batteries and IV tubes, they weave the very fabric of life for consumer nations. They also confront labor violations, environmental devastation and urban chaos — life on the frontier of the global economy. In MAQUILAPOLIS, Carmen and her colleague Lourdes reach beyond the daily struggle for survival to organize for change: Carmen takes a major television manufacturer to task for violating her labor rights. Lourdes pressures the government to clean up a toxic waste dump left behind by a departing factory.
As they work for change, the world changes too: a global economic crisis and the availability of cheaper labor in China begin to pull the factories away from Tijuana, leaving Carmen, Lourdes and their colleagues with an uncertain future.