Workers At General Motors Plant In Mexico Have Voted To Cancel Their Contract And Expel Their Union

MEXICO CITY — Workers at a General Motors plant in Mexico have decided to cancel a collective bargaining agreement brokered by an old guard union that has been accused of using intimidation methods in previous ballots. It was an early demonstration of the efficiency of labor measures negotiated as part of the USMCA.

According to a statement released by Mexico’s Labor Ministry on Thursday, over 6,000 workers at the GM factory in Silao voted over two days. The final total was 3,214 votes against 2,623 votes in favor.

The contract will be terminated as a result of the vote, but the workers will continue to receive the same benefits and working conditions. The vote was against the union, which is affiliated with the Confederation of Mexican Workers. Workers at the facility have been organized by a new group.

The voting took place inside the factory on Tuesday and Wednesday, with monitors from the Labor Ministry, the National Electoral Institute, and the International Labor Organization of the United Nations present.

The voting circumstances “show the government’s commitment to union democracy and honoring the choice of the employees,” according to a statement from the Labor Ministry.

Production at the Silao facility would continue under the provisions of the present agreement until a new one is negotiated and accepted by a majority vote, GM said in a statement. Within 20 business days, the Labor Ministry will issue a final decision.

“General Motors appreciates that the GM Silao Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) legitimization procedure was carried out with strong participation and that the Ministry of Labor has not reported any incidents,” according to the statement. “It is critical for GM that employees be able to exercise their rights in a personal, free, confidential, and direct manner. GM also thanks to the US and Mexican governments’ cooperation, as well as the independent observers who oversaw the exercise.”

After the former union was found allegedly deleting ballots in a previous referendum, the US government filed a complaint under the USMCA in May.

Mexican unions have been signing low-wage “protection contracts” behind employees’ backs for decades.

The trade pact’s “quick reaction” procedures allow a panel to assess whether Mexico is upholding labor rules that allow workers to pick their union and vote on contracts and leadership. If it is discovered that Mexico is not implementing its laws, fines may be imposed, including the prohibition of certain items from entering the United States. The case filed in May was the first under the USMCA.

Mexican auto workers earn one-eighth to one-tenth of what their American colleagues do, resulting in a significant transfer of car factories to Mexico and employment losses in the United States.

In Mexico, union voting was held by show of hands or not at all for decades. Many factory workers in Mexico were unaware that they were members of a union until dues were collected from their paychecks.

Mexico enacted labor law amendments as part of its efforts to secure the USMCA, which replaced the previous North American Free Trade Agreement. All union elections would be by secret ballot, and employees at all workplaces in Mexico may vote on whether or not to maintain their present union.

The case was sparked by a vote among the 6,494 employees of GM’s transmission and pickup facilities in Silao in April.

Workers at the company were given the option of voting yes or no on whether or not to recognize the union that has long dominated the plant’s labor contract. That union is affiliated with the Confederation of Mexican Workers, or CTM, which was a key component of the party that controlled Mexico for most of the twentieth century.

That vote was deemed illegitimate by Mexico’s Labor Ministry.

lgnews-General-Motors Plant.gif222The vote was hailed by the Generating Movement, which is seeking to organize workers within the factory. It said it was working to register as a union and planned to represent workers in the upcoming contract negotiation.

The CTM was described as a “zombie” by Hector de la Cueva, a union adviser, and coordinator of the Labor and Union Advisory Research Center, who predicted they will try to return.

“Now the question is, which union will sign the new collective bargaining agreement?” At a press conference held by the Generating Movement in Silao, de la Cueva stated. “The workers demonstrated their dissatisfaction by rejecting both the CTM contract and the union.”

The CTM had made no remark on the vote’s outcome.

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