GM Plant Workers Face Threats After Voting Out Corrupt Union

Ken Zino of AutoInformed.com on GM’s Silao Plant Workers Face Threats After Voting Out Corrupt Union

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Workers who voted to reject their collective agreement controlled by the Miguel Trujillo López union – affiliated to the business-friendly Confederation of Mexican Workers – has resulted in threats and harassment because they support a new, independent union, according to IndustriALL, a global consortium of union workers. General Motors has not replied to AutoInformed’s requests for comment. (GM Workers in Mexico Reject Corrupt Union to Form New One)

On 17 and 18 August, workers at the General Motors (GM) plant in Silao, Mexico, voted against the current collective bargaining agreement, which since 2008 has been controlled by Tereso Medina, general secretary of the Miguel Trujillo López union, affiliated the Confederation of Mexican Workers (CTM). A total of 6,480 workers cast their ballot. There were 2,623 votes in favor of the agreement, 3,214 against, and 39 spoiled ballots. As a result, the current collective agreement is in the process of being scrapped. Workers will not lose any of their rights, and their benefits and working conditions will remain the same until new representatives are elected.

The victory was unprecedented the 7000 GM workers. The workers had reported serious irregularities in the voting process during the initial ballot in April of this year and lodged the first-ever complaint under the rapid response mechanism, provided for in the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA).

The Mexican and US governments agreed to repeat the vote in the presence of independent observers from the International Labor Organization (ILO) and Mexico’s National Electoral Institute (INE), alongside federal work inspectors from the country’s labor ministry.

The national union of automotive workers (SINTTIA) – the new union seeking to represent workers has condemned GM for refusing to recognize the union or to meet with its representatives before 3 November, when the current collective agreement ends. In addition, GM added to the uncertainty and created a “legal limbo” when announcing that the current agreement would be terminated after the vote, said IndustriALL.

Mexican authorities announced one month later that the agreement would remain in effect until 3 November, three months after the ballot. “This could alter the legal framework under which the new agreement is negotiated. Even though it lost the ballot, the CTM union is required to continue to fulfil its obligations under the current agreement until the agreement ends. Yet it has refused to provide funeral assistance and other economic benefits even though it is still receiving union dues,” said IndustriALL.

When an employee from Irapuato fell ill at work, GM refused to take her to hospital, arguing that it could not do so because the union was not operational, as it no longer represented the workers. “Nobody wanted to do anything to help our colleague. She had to make her own way to the hospital. The union has nothing to do with the medical services provided by General Motors.” SINTTIA has announced that it will lodge a complaint under the United States–Mexico–Canada Agreement and with the labor ministry,” said Alejandra Morales Reynoso, secretary general of SINTTIA.

“Rejecting the employer-protection agreement was the first major step. Now, we have to make sure that there is union freedom in Mexico and that the workers at the Silao plant can elect their union freely and without intimidation,” Reynoso, said.

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