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Mexican GM Workers Leave Union After USMCA-Spurred Vote

Aug. 20, 2021
The final vote was 3,214 to leave the Confederation of Mexican Workers and 2,623 to stay.

Workers at General Motors’ vehicle assembly plant in Silao, Mexico have voted to terminate their contract with a chapter of the Confederation of Mexican Workers (CTM). According to the Associated Press, GM employees at the plant, which assembles Chevrolet Silverado pickup trucks and GMC Sierra SUVs, will continue to work with benefits provided by their old contract for the time being.

In a vote Monday, 3,214 workers voted to terminate their CTM contract while 2,623 voted to maintain it.

The vote was prompted by the first labor dispute settled using the USMCA’s rapid response mechanism, said U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai, which the United States invoked in May after Mexican authorities stopped a vote in April to keep the union after reporting irregularities like destroyed ballots and alleged intimidation tactics.

Under the USMCA’s rapid response mechanism, a member state can issue a complaint to another member state for not appropriately enforcing labor laws. If the country is found to be underenforcing its workers’ rights, goods produced by that country would receive stiff tariffs of up to 25%. The U.S. and Mexico agreed to a remediation plan in early July that included a new election held by August 20.

According to the terms of the agreement, the vote was held with five times as many Labor Ministry overseers as the original vote in April, as well as supervisors from the UN’s International Labor Organization and Mexico’s National Electoral Institute.

Tai, in a statement, said the Monday vote was an “important demonstration” of the USMCA’s rapid response mechanism and thanked those who supervised the election.

“Free and fair union votes are a critical component of freedom of association and collective bargaining and the related labor provisions of the USMCA,” she said. “The United States will continue to work with our Mexican counterparts—including through the use of the rapid response mechanism—to protect the rights of North American workers.”

UAW President Ray Curry, in a joint statement with his VP, congratulated the workers for ousting the “pro-employer” CTM but said it was “only the start,” noting the workers will now have to form their own union.

“The GM Silao vote proves that when given the opportunity to vote in an environment free from intimidation and deceit, workers will reject pro-employer collective bargaining agreements and pro-employer protection unions, and instead chose to have a voice on the job and fight for better wages, benefits, and working conditions,” Curry and VP Dittes said. “The Mexican government must ensure that all collective bargaining agreement votes in the future are afforded these same protections.”

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