Labor unions’ leadership renewals, a challenge for the new administration: labor specialists

Leadership renewals in labor unions will be a challenge for the new administration and also for the new labor model that grants the workers the possibility to change or maintain their leaders, who have represented them for years through free, secrete and direct vote.

Labor specialists consider that, as the terms are due for the renewal of leaderships, “the workers will need to make the decision of changing or keeping their leader, as in the case of Carlos Romero Deschamps, oil workers’ leader, Francisco Hernández Juárez, in the Telephone Workers Union, or Arturo Olivares Cerda, leader of the Social Security Institute’s union”, said Pablo Franco, labor specialist.

Also, Franco considered that no substantial changes will take place in the short term, since “the unions shielded themselves” after the February 24, 2017 constitutional amendment, which maintains many of the current leaders heading the workers.

Ricardo Martínez Rojas, partner of De la Vega & Martínez, said that the renewal of leaderships “may be a bit of dead letter, mainly on the part that the leaderships will not remain eternally in the union, because many leaderships, big and small, have taken their precautions since 2017 for this purpose”.

Prior to the internal procedures for leadership renewals, the unions are required to reform their bylaws, explained Martínez Rojas, since “time is running out because this was in May and the law granted them about 10 months, then, they need to have their bylaws reformed by now”.

Which are the needed reforms?

Firstly, bylaws shall clearly establish that elections will be through free, secret and direct vote, and this must be mandatory. Also, the positions of the general secretaries may not be undetermined, but a precise definition must be in place.

Likewise, they need to add the part on accountability. How will they be accountable under the new law? The law requires a much clearer accountability and they are required to deliver quarterly reports, and an important change is a report to be submitted to the Ministry of Labor and Social Welfare and new Federal Labor Arbitration and Registration Center.

“It is important that the unions begin to fulfill their obligations. Somr CTM unions sought relief, but they have accomplished nothing, they have not been granted any real suspension. Then, as no suspension is present, everyone has to comply with such obligations, otherwise they risk that some group of workers may sue them, they man even sue for the cancellation of the registration due to a breach, but it can not be an administrative action, it shall be judicial”.

Mega powers to the Federal Labor Arbitration and Registration Center

Meanwhile, Jorge Sales Boyoli, labor specialist, stated that the new Federal Labor Arbitration and Registration Center will not have any counterbalance and the resolutions to grant or revoke union registrations or to approve collective labor contracts will fall into the management of the agency, despite its having, as a novelty, a Governing Board, which will only have administrative but not operative powers.

“We will see in practice. We do not identify any real counterbalance body, only a government agency with administrative functions. And the changes in union leaderships will be seen in two speeds, one in April 2020, when the bylaws will be modified; and it will be until 2021 when we may see the workers become empowered to cause a real change in their union leaderships”.

Note published in El Economista, Corporations section, by María del Pilar Martínez.