December 3, 2023

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The Cars Maniacs

Mexican Auto Parts Plant Is Battleground For Independent Union’s First Contract Fight

Mexican Auto Parts Plant Is Battleground For Independent Union’s First Contract Fight

In the Mexican border city of Piedras Negras, Coahuila, auto components employees are throwing down nevertheless again towards their employer, Michigan-primarily based VU Manufacturing, and its preferred union, the Confederation of Mexican Workers (CTM).

Previous August, VU workers voted to type an unbiased union, the Mexican Workers’ League (la Liga), defeating management’s work to impose an employer-friendly union affiliated with the CTM.

Right after a union wins an election, Mexican labor law grants 6 months to discount a deal. In the League’s scenario, the timetable runs via March 6. Bargaining a new contract commonly usually takes about two months, say Mexican labor activists.

At GM Silao, employees negotiated a new contract past May, a few months right after voting in a new union.

But personnel say VU Manufacturing has renewed its marketing campaign to bust the independent union. If no agreement is signed in the course of the 6-month interval, a union ought to refile to symbolize the workers—and other unions can move in and drive a new election.

“The business is betting that time passes and the 6 months expire,” stated Julia Quiñones, a delegate for the League at VU and director of the Border Workers Committee (el Comité Fronterizo de Obreras, CFO), a community employee middle. She claimed that with the guidance of the CTM the enterprise is getting rid of supporters of the League by firings and suspensions.

“The corporation has actively refused to negotiate in good faith with the union on a contract, has expelled union organizers from the plant, and has ongoing to discriminate in favor of reps of the CTM, like facilitating endeavours by the minority union to smear, intimidate, and threaten the users of the League,” said José Carrillo, assistant standard secretary of the League at VU, for the duration of a push meeting final week.

The VU plant employs 400 employees in an industrial park just 3 miles west of the Rio Grande. Other close by vegetation are controlled by the CTM. VU was non-union until finally the August vote, but workers say the CTM would like to halt the new union from attaining momentum on what it sights as its terrain.

The League has strategies in other export factories in the states of Coahuila, Durango, Puebla, Querétaro, and San Luis Potosí. In Nazareno, Durango, workers affiliated with the League went on a wildcat do the job stoppage at a Levi’s supplier previous 7 days to protest deficiency of shell out boosts. The League also won an election to represent 2,000 workers at a 3M Purification shopper merchandise manufacturing facility in San Luis Potosí, and continues to manage in the union’s hometown of Puebla to symbolize personnel at the MexMode textile plant.


Businesses have lengthy relied on protection unions like the CTM to suppress wages and kneecap authentic organizing. National labor legislation reforms and labor provisions of the U.S.-Mexico-Canada trade agreement (USMCA) have developed an opening for staff to type genuine unions and combat to raise standards. But the VU scenario exhibits that staff will have to drive bargaining on intransigent companies.

The League notified VU on January 5 that because of to stalled deal negotiations, employees would strike on February 6. The organization is granted one particular thirty day period to respond by bargaining to avert a strike. Mexican labor authorities can also intervene in advance of the strike deadline to attempt to broker an agreement in between administration and the union.

A strike is a strong weapon less than Mexican labor legislation mainly because the get the job done stoppage is comprehensive and whole if the strike is declared lawful. Unlike in the U.S., no alternative personnel can be hired amenities should shut down in the course of a function stoppage.

Meanwhile, the CTM has also specific Quiñones, a seasoned organizer with decades of encounter in the Mexican labor movement, accusing her of having money from U.S. unions to disrupt the vehicle sector and push corporations out of Mexico. She has characterised these accusations as “lies to cast uncertainties on the reliable targets [of our union], which are to gain justice, regard, and dignity for the personnel and their families—that the legal rights of staff be revered, and that the charro unions, irresponsible corporations, and governments subordinated to cash stop imposing on [the workers] and determining for them.” (Charro is a phrase used to refer to corrupt Mexican union leaders.)

In December, the League and the CFO submitted a petition to the U.S. Office of Labor less than the Swift Response Labor Mechanism of the USMCA asserting multiple violations of Mexican labor law by the enterprise.

The petition marks the next time the Piedras Negras manufacturing unit has been probed underneath the USMCA. The 1st grievance, filed in June, alleged that VU was favoring the CTM in the operate-up to previous year’s union election the U.S. and Mexico declared the dispute fixed following the League won the election.

Beneath the swift response system, the U.S. and Canada can look into labor legal rights problems and impose trade sanctions or fines on providers that violate Mexican labor regulation. Penalties for various violations can involve a ban on imports.

Elevating Criteria

VU staff create armrests and doorway upholstery for cars made by companies which includes Tesla, Toyota, GM, and Stellantis. They deliver components to other components organizations represented by the United Vehicle Employees, which includes Adient, Magna, and Yanfeng.

U.S. labor activists frequented the Michigan headquarters of pieces supplier Marelli, a further VU purchaser, on January 11 to spotlight VU’s abuses, warning in a press launch about “the doable disruption to Marelli’s supply chain” stemming from the criticism.

Meanwhile, ballots are out in the run-off election to choose the presidency of the 400,000-member UAW. “Workers and unions all over the place need to have to stand together to take on global companies that are dividing us for earnings,” explained Shawn Fain, who is challenging incumbent President Ray Curry, in a penned statement to Labor Notes. “Raising the expectations at VU, which is what the impartial union is seeking to do, rewards staff almost everywhere. The Section of Labor and the U.S. Trade Consultant ought to be certain that workers’ legal rights are respected at VU.”

Sandra Engle, head of the UAW community relations division, didn’t react to a ask for for comment.

“Auto sector unions need to function with each other,” said Quiñones. “Mexican workers really do not are worthy of significantly less than these in other countries… It is time to pressure companies to comply with the law. With the aid of unions, we can make them listen to the just demands of Mexican employees. It’s now or in no way.”