Workers at one of the many auto industry plants in México owned by U.S. corporate interests have just made their worksite one of the growing number that have chosen to go the independent union route. Reporters Luis Feliz Leon and Dan DiMaggio have the story, and we’ve excerpted here their just-published Labor Notes analysis.
Three miles from the U.S.-México border, auto parts workers at VU Manufacturing in Piedras Negras, Coahuila voted on August 31 to join an independent union, defeating company attempts to usher in an employer-friendly, politically connected union.
The independent Mexican Workers’ League (la Liga Sindical Obrera Mexicana) won 186 votes, while a union with ties to the powerful Confederation of Mexican Workers (CTM) received 101.
In June, the League and a local organization, the Border Workers Committee (el Comité Fronterizo de Obrer@s, or CFO), filed a petition under the U.S.-Mexico-Canada trade agreement’s rapid-response mechanism. The complaint alleged that the company was interfering with VU workers’ right to free association by pushing them to affiliate with the CTM, a union notorious for signing contracts behind workers’ backs, locking in low wages and poor working conditions and preventing workers from forming genuine unions…
Management forced workers to sit through a form of captive-audience meetings with CTM representatives. CTM officials allegedly were allowed to sign up members during work time, with management even calling workers in for individual meetings where they were asked to join the CTM.
During a CTM presentation, a VU worker who complained about the company-friendly union was escorted off the factory premises by guards and fired...
Jovanna García, 26, who started working at VU Manufacturing seven months ago, says the victories of independent unions across Mexico (including SINTTIA at GM Silao) have demonstrated that change is possible.
“The most important thing they’ve taught us is the value and freedom a worker has to choose a union, which allows her to defend her labor rights," she said. "It’s important to emphasize that companies don’t have the right to decide for workers their union. It’s the worker who makes that decision. Let’s go for the change!”