GM Mexico Union Vote Begins with Key Labor Implications
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GM Mexico Union Vote Begins with Key Labor Implications

Photo by:   General Motors México
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Antonio Gozain By Antonio Gozain | Senior Journalist and Industry Analyst - Tue, 02/01/2022 - 12:02

Nearly 6,300 General Motors workers in Silao, Guanajuato, will elect a new union this week as the Independent Syndicate of National Workers (SINTTIA) aims to beat the Confederation of Mexican Workers (CTM), which has held the contract for 25 years.

The vote is one of the first under USMCA’s labor reform and aims to “help improve pay by breaking the grip of unions that critics say signed deals with companies behind workers' backs,” reported Reuters.

In the closing of the campaign, Alejandra Morales, SINTTIA’s leader, highlighted the importance of the union vote as a historic moment, since it is the first time that labor changes are applied to demand the ownership of a collective bargaining agreement “with the existence of four interested unions, but the possibility that workers are not deceived or intimidated as happened in the past.”

The vote, set for this Tuesday and Wednesday at the pickup truck plant in Silao, comes after workers dissolved their active contract with CTM in Aug. 2021. It also represents the successful conclusion of the first labor complaint under the Rapid Response Mechanism of USMCA, which took place after US officials threatened to impose tariffs on GM exports if the automaker did not protect worker rights, as reported by MBN.

Mexico’s National Commission of Human Rights (CNDH) and National Electoral Institute (INE) will oversee the vote, which could set the tone for other GM plants in Mexico and throughout the country’s automotive industry, “which is largely dominated by unions that experts say have reputations for protecting business interests and depressing wages,” reported Reuters. In Sept. 2021, CTM lost against the Autonomous Confederation of Workers and Employees (CATEM) in Nissan’s Aguascalientes plant. The voting represented an “inflection point” in Mexico’s labor democratic life, said Pedro Haces, General Secretary, CATEM.

Many workers want to push out CTM, which has been historically aligned with the PRI political party and has held the Silao contract since the plant opened in 1995, reported El Economista. SINTTIA gained popularity during last year’s vote, when workers rejected CTM’s contract.

Morales said that international unions, such as Canadian Unifor, Brazilian CSP-Conlutas and US United Steel Workers have shown their support to SINTTIA. “It is not intervention, it is support, solidarity with all our workers to have a union that really makes a true collective contract, with rights and respect for workers.”

GM ratified that it will respect the results of this week’s vote and exhorted workers to report any intimidation attempt to the authorities. “General Motors, attached to the values that make the company stand out worldwide, will respect the workers’ decision and will work with the union representation chosen by them,” said the automaker in a press release.

Photo by:   General Motors México

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