Workers open the door to a new General Motors union in Silao

Note published on August 20, 2021, on El Economista, section Empresas by María del Pilar Martínez
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Through an unprecedented vote, the Miguel Trujillo López union lost the certification for handling the collective bargaining agreement of the automotive plant, registering 55% votes against it; the process is a sign of the new labor reality, lawyers say.

In an unprecedented process in Mexican unionism, workers from the General Motors automotive plant in Silao, Guanajuato, voted for the first time in a personal, direct and secret manner, as required by the 2019 labor reform and the chapter on labor of the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) and rejected, with 55% of the votes, the collective bargaining agreement led by the “Miguel Trujillo López” Union, affiliated to the Confederation of Mexican Workers (CTM).

In a process that lasted 34 continuous hours, and which took place peacefully, it was reported that 2,623 workers voted “yes” compared to 3,214 who voted “no” and 39 null votes, “with which the collective bargaining agreement will be terminated” the Department of Labor and Social Welfare, headed by Luisa María Alcalde, informed this Thursday.

This process, monitored at all times by personnel from the Department of Labor and Social Welfare (STPS), observers from the National Electoral Institute (INE) and the International Labour Organization (ILO), addresses the Remediation Agreement initiated due to the complaints filed by the United States Government against Mexico under the Rapid Response Labor Mechanism  delivered on May 11 and June 21 of this year.

The foregoing due to the irregularities detected in the first voting process in April of this year, in which the CTM Union headed by Tereso Medina did not guarantee the freedom of the workers to issue their vote and comply with the legitimation of the agreement as established in the Federal Labor Law, the term for which ends in May, 2023.

The “participation in this exercise of union democracy”, said Alcalde Luján, does not represent any risk for the rights of the workers, as once the resolution of the process is issued, the agreement will be dissolved, but the workers will not lose any right acquired to this date.

It should be noted that the STPS has a period of 20 business days to analyze the reports by the verifying personnel and the observer institutions as well complaints, if such is the case, presented by the workers, with the objective of issuing the definitive resolution in regard to the consultation, which will also be delivered to the United States Trade Representation (USTR).

For its part, General Motors announced in a communication that “[we] reiterate that we will respect the result of this process and that the benefits and perks of the workers will remain in force. Therefore, GM Silao will continue its operations under the conditions of the collective bargaining agreement while a new one is negotiated and approved by a majority of votes.”

The biggest manufacturer of light vehicles in Mexico said that it is awaiting the final resolution on the union election and, therefore, it will continue cooperating with the competent authorities that so require this in the following stages of the process and qualified as “important” that its workers have been able to exercise their rights.

They accept, but they will review irregularities.

CTM leader Tereso Medina informed that he accepts the decision of the workers that voted “no”; nevertheless, he said that the Legal Coordination of the union organization will analyze the inconsistencies and “in the event that they are serious, we will proceed to an appeal for reconsideration.”

He added that the process “was full of irregularities by labor authorities, which we cannot allow to affect the will of the workers.”

In contrast, representatives of the Federation of Independent Unions of the Automotive, Autoparts, Aerospace and Pneumatic Industries (FESIIAAAN), maintained that “it was an historical day for unionism in Mexico.”  Ben Davis, director of International Affairs of United Steelworkers, said that “this vote is a very important step toward union democracy and better salaries.”

Now, calls for strike

Germán de la Garza de Vecchi, partner of Labor Services at Deloitte México, said that “this voting process is a sample of what collective labor relationships will be like in the country and they reflect a new reality, in which it is clear that workers will be the ones to decide.” What comes next, explained Óscar de la Vega, founding partner of the D&M Abogados Firm, is that once the Federal Conciliation and Arbitration Board notifies the dissolution of the collective bargaining agreement, interested unions may call to strike in order to be certified for handling the agreement

This because the General Motors plant is located in Silao, Guanajuato, where the labor reform of 2019 has not yet entered into force (this will happen in October) and, therefore, the old process for obtaining certification to handle the collective bargaining agreement has to be applied.

In this sense, the workers of Generando Movimiento will seek  certification, now as an independent union, and even the CTM union itself can demand certification once more. (With information by Lilia González)

What is next for the GM-Silao workers?

Now that the voting process at General Motors, in which it was decided to terminate the Collective Bargaining Agreement (CCT),  has concluded, the legal process that must be  followed in regard to the relationship of the workers with the company involves the presentation of calls to strike.

  • The Department of Labor and Social Welfare has 20 days to issue the final Resolution and inform the Federal Conciliation and Arbitration Board.
  • Workers will cease to pay union fees, in accordance with the provisions of Art. 110 Sect. VI.
  • Union organizations interested in the CCT must call to strike for signature of the collective bargaining agreement before the Federal Conciliation and Arbitration Board.
  • All interested unions that accredit having the support of a minimum of 30% of the workers, including the “Miguel Trujillo López” union, affiliated to the CTM may participate.
  • In the event that there are more than three unions, voting must be conducted to determine which one of them has the largest union representativeness.