Abstentionism won in Mazda; unions must include the option of “non-unionization” in voting procedures

Note published on October 19 in El Economista, Empresas [Companies] Section by María del Pilar Martínez
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Despite the statement made by the Autonomous Confederation of Workers and Employees of Mexico (CATEM) in the sense that they won the election process at the Mazda plant in Guanajuato, the truth is that “abstentionism won”, which forces the need for including the option of ‘non-unionization’ in voting processes with the objective of allowing workers to fully exercise their right to freedom of association as set forth in the USMCA and in the Federal Labor Law.

The foregoing in the opinion of Óscar de la Vega, a partner at the De la Vega & Martínez Rojas Law Firm, who is a specialist in labor matters who handled a similar case with the Volkswagen union in which the low level of participation of the workers caused the need to conduct the voting process once more although, in this case, it was for the approval of the negotiation of their collective bargaining agreement.

Asked about the recent voting process at Mazda, he said that “out of a base of 4,400 workers, only 1,500 workers participated, and that vote was divided between three organizations: the CATEM, the CTM [Confederation of Mexican Workers] and independent candidate “Froylán González”, meaning that none of them obtained 50+1 of the total number of unionized workers at that plant, which generates a series of questions about the validity of the voting.

He explained that labor authorities must clarify whether “50+1 of the total number of workers is required, that is, 2,201 workers in order to obtain the certification for handling the collective bargaining agreement; or, otherwise, as it has been interpreted, that only the majority of those who participate in the voting process is required.”

De la Vega explained additionally that “within a union democracy, which is what is proclaimed by the Federal Labor Law, this 50+1 is specifically required for various processes as established by Art. 390 Ter of the LFT [Federal Labor Law]; that is, for legitimation and consultation processes of CCTs [Collective Bargaining Agreements],”

Another fundamental aspect, he added, is in regard to freedom of association as established in the USMCA and in the Constitution, because the worker has the freedom of belonging or not belonging to a union, “and it is possible that the significant absenteeism in this process at Mazda is due to the fact that those 4,400 workers have no interest in belonging to a union and, therefore, the option of “non-unionization” should have been included in the ballot.”

For now, until the Federal Labor Court issues a ruling, which can also be contested by one of the union organizations, the interpretation of which will be subject to the judge, the union will continue to be the CTM.