“For decades, Mexican workers’ voices have been suppressed by a dysfunctional and corrupt labor law system. In too many cases, employers have coordinated with anti-democratic unions to create “protection” contracts that impose draconian wages and labor conditions on workers. These practices have depressed Mexican workers’ wages, benefits, and working conditions. Mexican autoworkers earn a fraction of what U.S. autoworkers earn, creating a perverse incentive for U.S. companies to invest in Mexico. The UAW believes this needs to change and continues to firmly believe that companies should produce the vehicles in the markets they predominantly serve. This isn’t just sound economics for our communities, but it allows workers making the products we consume, the opportunity to earn good wages and benefits, work in a safe environment, and have the right to organize. Likewise, workers in Mexico deserve the right to democratically elected union representation and collectively bargained wages and conditions.
In the past several years there have been attempts to address Mexico’s broken labor law system through both the 2019 Mexican labor reform and the labor obligations under the United States-Mexico- Canada Agreement (USMCA). As part of these reforms, companies must run a “legitimation” vote between now and 2023 to ensure that workers approve of their collective bargaining agreement.
The historic agreement between the Biden Administration and the Mexican government is aimed at providing the workers of the General Motors Silao facility in Mexico the ability to vote on whether to approve their collective bargaining agreement under free and democratic conditions. The agreement lays out a series of commitments negotiated by the parties to address serious rights violations that occurred during a legitimation vote in April 2021. The agreement also sends a clear signal that workers’ fundamental rights on both sides of the border will no longer be ignored and are the focal point of our international trade agenda. We commend Ambassador Tai for putting the interests of workers front and center.
On April 20_ 21, 2021, workers at the GM facility in Silao, Mexico were blatantly denied their right to a free and fair union election when the protection union, the Confederation of Mexican Workers (CTM), was caught red-handed destroying ballots. This and other irregularities resulted in the Mexican government calling the vote null and void, and criminal charges against the CTM were filed.
A new vote is scheduled to take place on August 20. Today’s agreement is an important step towards ensuring workers in Silao will no longer be subject to such abuses and will have their rights protected. We will continue to closely monitor the commitments made in this agreement to ensure these workers have a voice in their workplace. The UAW believes in the right of every worker to have a free and fair election in their workplace.”
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