The fight about labor representation at General Motors’ critical truck plant in Silao, Mexico continues to escalate as the union handling contract negotiations with GM refuses to schedule a new ratification vote demanded by Mexican authorities.
The CTM, the Mexican labor organization accused of maintaining a sweetheart labor deal with GM’s management that holds down wages, is appealing the decision by the Mexican government’s department of labor, which has called for a new election among workers at the Silao plant, according to the Mexican publication El Economista.
Mexican government authorities found after an investigation the election run by the CTM violated the workers’ rights, according to the publication.
The failure by CTM to comply with the order from the Mexican government potentially could lead to a ban on vehicles exported to the U.S. from Silao or special tariffs s on any exports to the U.S. from Silao because of the violation of labor rights. The penalties are part of the new USMCA trade agreement, which in 2020 replaced NAFTA.
Silao critical to GM
The dispute over the GM contract has been cited in complaint filed by U.S. Trade Representative, which asked for the Mexican government to investigate, making it a test case of USMCA provisions aimed at forcing wage increases in Mexican demanded by U.S. unions.
The Silao plant, which employs more than 6,400 workers, is one of the sources of full-size pickup trucks sold in the U.S. GM also has truck plants in Indiana and Michigan.
AFL-CIO demands action
Meanwhile, the AFL-CIO has issued a statement, saying it was “deeply concerned” about the refusal of CTM, to schedule a new vote on the collective bargaining agreement at the plant.
The new vote was necessary because during the election April 20-21, the Mexican Secretariat of Labor and Social Welfare, or STPS, suspended the voting process after obtaining evidence of ballot tampering and filed a criminal complaint with the Attorney General of Guanajuato.
As a result of the complaint and in accordance with the 2019 United States Mexico Canada Trade Agreement, the STPS ordered CTM to hold a new vote within 30 calendar days.
The U.S. Trade Representative also requested Mexico conduct a review of the contract legitimation process to determine whether a Denial of Rights under the USMCA occurred at the Silao plant, to which Mexico responded positively.
CTM remains defiant
So far, though, CTM has refused to publish the notice informing workers about the new vote at GM Silao, defying the order of Mexican government officials. Again, the AFL-CIO raised concerns, hoping to sound the alarm for union workers who don’t necessarily have a voice in the process.
“If this is the case and non-compliance with the resolution of the STPS is allowed to stand, a union publicly accused of vote tampering by the labor authority can act with impunity and retain control of the collective bargaining agreement indefinitely,” the AFL-CIO said in its statement.
“(They’ll be able to do it) without consequence or sanction, and despite the fact a majority of the workers who were able to cast their ballots did so voting against the CTM contract. such inaction would clearly exacerbate the Denial of Rights that is already the subject of the USTR-initiated complaint.”
The AFL-CIO implored Mexican government officials to act immediately to protect the rights of the GM workers be ensuring the new vote is held. It also called for a comprehensive investigation of the actions of the CTM and the company during the past two years, including the complaints filed for firing and harassment of union dissidents.