|Detail of poster for artistic exchange & the FAT's 13th convention|
|Artist Beatriz Aurora|
Mexican Labor News & Analysis
May , 2012, Vol. 17, No. 5
Introduction to this issue:
MAY – A MONTH OF MARCHES
May was a month of marches in Mexico City and in other cities throughout the country. Students marched against Enrique Peña Nieto of the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI). Mothers marched on Mothers’ Day to protest the disappearance of thousands of Mexicans, many presume to be victims of the on-going war between the government and the drug cartels.
Workers marched on May Day to protest economic policies of the government and violations of workers rights.
Much of the country’s attention, however, is focused on the election where the PRI’s Peña Nieto leads in the polls by almost 20 percentage points, but his opponents question the accuracy of the polls. Andrés Manuel López Obrador, candidate of the Progressive Movement, argues that the polls are fabricated by the corporate media which is allied with the PRI. As the candidate of the left, López Obrador has received strong support from students who have become radicalized. However, he has also reached out to the right to broaden his support. Meanwhile Josefina Vázquez Mota, candidate of the conservative National Action Party (PAN), has seen her support in the polls decline, dragged down by the country’s reaction to economic stagnation and the drug war violence.
The brightest note in labor news was a the decision of the Mexican Supreme Court to restore legal recognition to Napoleón Gómez Urrutia, General Secretary of the National Union of Mine, Metal and Steelworkers (Los Mineros). This decision, limiting government interference in certifying the results of internal union elections, is viewed as benefiting independent unions generally by removing a major obstacle encountered by many democratic union leaders. The case received strong international attention, including the submission of 100 letters from labor lawyers and labor and human rights organizations and the submission of an Amicus brief by the International Commission on Labor Rights (ICLR), a rarity in Mexican court proceedings.
Contents for this issue:
- Urgent Action: Workers' Rights Activist Kidnapped and Tortured
- Please Support Striking Garment Workers
- Students Lead Massive March Against PRI Candidate Peña Nieto
- Mothers March on Mexico City Against Disappearances
- International Workers Day in Mexico: Last May Day of Pan Era
- Populist Candidate López Obrador Moves up in Polls in Mexico as His Keynesian Impulses Give Way to Appeals to Business
- USW Welcomes Restoration of Legal Status to Mexican Miners Leader
- Mexican DMI Workers Visit UE Members at DMI in Ohio
- Mexico's Cananea Strikers: Fighting for the Right to a Union
- Mexican Electrical Workers, Other Unions Found New Federation
- International Tribunal for Trade Union Right to Freedom of Association
- Wal-Mart Scandal Investigation Expands—time to Look at Unions
- UNI Approves Resolution on Protection Contracts and Labor Reform in Mexico
- Labor Shorts: UNTYPP, STUHM, FAT and SME
- Up-coming Events
Urgent Action: Workers' Rights Activist Kidnapped and Tortured
José Enrique Morales Montaño, of the Center of Support for Workers (CAT) in Puebla was kidnapped and physically tortured on May 15, 2012 as he was headed to the Local Labor Board to accompany a group of textile workers who were fighting a case against a factory in the region. His captors kept a gun pressed to his head for extended periods of time, and threatened to kill him and the other members of the CAT. In the evening of the same day, they left him on an abandoned highway to Veracruz, and stole his cell phone and backpack; he suffered serious injuries.
Show your solidarity with those in Mexico defending human and labor rights and demand a swift resolution to this injustice.
Please take a moment to send off your protest message here.
Spread the word - build the campaign!
Unfortunately, this is not the first time that the CAT has been subject to attacks. This kidnapping follows several years of systematic harassment pushed largely by multi-national companies since 2008. The CAT is a non-governmental organization whose mission is to promote the exercise and defense of labor rights. Their work as human rights defenders has raised awareness of the precarious conditions that workers in Puebla face every day.
In 2010, unknown persons robbed the CAT’s offices and prominently left written threats on one of the office walls. Since then, CAT members have been physically assaulted and have received death threats by email. In response to these threats, the Project of Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ProDESC), requested that the National Commission of Human Rights and the Puebla State Commission of Human Rights grant precautionary measures immediately to protect the CAT members in their work. Both Commissions granted these measures and the State Commission implemented them (Exp. QVG/DGAP/27/2011). However, after only 12 months, and without any advance in the investigations of these threats, the Puebla State Commission suspended the measures unilaterally and without making the risk analysis required as justification for the decision. Furthermore, on March 21, 2012, the Puebla State Commission of Human Rights denied a request to reveal its risk analysis. By doing so, the Puebla State Commission left the human rights defenders of the CAT in a vulnerable situation.
The CAT has also been the subject of a smear campaign by governmental and business actors. On July 27, 2011, the president of the National Chamber of Industry of the Transformation (Canacintra), Luis Espinosa Rueda, qualified the CAT and its leader, Blanca Velázquez, as a “threat for Puebla.” He stated that “this group only seeks to de-stabilize businesses, particularly those with headquarters in the United States.” On April 12, 2012, the state leader of the Mexican Confederation of Workers (CTM) and President of the Labor and Social Welfare Committee of the Mexican House of Deputies, Dip. Leobardo Soto Martínez, publicly stated that “insofar as the worker base is competitive, we will not allow [the CAT] to meddle in the union and business life of the state with the consequences that it generates.”
Similarly, Soto Martínez threatened to “defend businesses where we have collective bargaining agreements no matter what the cost, even if there is violence. We will not lose contracts with businesses in Puebla nor in other parts of the country.” In other words, a federal elected official in charge of the Congressional Labor Committee publicly condoned violence against the CAT only one month before today’s attack.
Please Support Striking Garment Workers
Some 400 workers at the largest denim plant in the country, La Estrella S.A de C.V. (FLESA), located in Parras de la Fuente, Coahuila, who have been on strike since July 6, 2011, are now facing a legal threat that their strike will be declared illegal. Please sign the alert being circulated on their behalf by the Red Nacional de Organismos Civiles de Derechos Humanos.
For more information, see article from April 2012 issue of MLNA.
Students Lead Massive March Against PRI Candidate Peña Nieto
Tens of thousands of Mexican students, joined by many others including union members and workers, led a march in Mexico City on May 19 in protest against Enrique Peña Nieto, candidate of the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI). The students not only repudiated Peña Nieto, but also Televisa and TV Azteca, two corporate television networks, and former president Carlos Salinas de Gortari who is seen as the candidate’s political godfather.
Many students and many of those in the social movements loathe Peña Nieto, former governor of the State of Mexico, for his role in the violent suppression of activists in the town of San Salvador Atenco in 2006. The conflict began when state and municipal police attempted to evict flower vendors from a public square. The Mexican National Human Rights Commission (CNDH) determined that over 200 people had suffered cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment; 145 were arbitrarily arrested; and 26 women suffered sexual assault at the hand of the police. In addition five foreigners were expelled from the country. The Commission concluded that the governor preferred violence when dialogue might have settled the issues involved.
These demonstrations grew out of a student protest at the Ibero-Americana University, private Jesuit college noted for its well-off, middle class students, some of them deeply committed to the Catholic Church’s teachings on social justice. When Peña Nieto spoke there on May 11 and attempted to justify his suppression of Atenco, saying that police force had been necessary to maintain order, students began shouting, “Murderer” and “Coward.” His visit to the college campus proved to be a major disaster for his campaign and may be one of the factors that helped to lift his opponent López Obrador in the polls. In any case, it energized the student movement.
In the mass march on May 19, La Jornada reported that a Spanglish chant rang out in the boulevards of Mexico City: “Guan, tu, tri, ni un voto por el PRI. Tri, tu guan, ni un voto por el PAN.” (One, two three, not a vote for the PRI. Three, two, one, not a vote for the PAN.) Among the signs in the marches around the country this one, “Soy prole, pero sé leer.” (I am a proletarian, but I know how to read.)
With more than 10,000 protesters, the Mexico City march was the largest of some twenty marches held throughout the country; but marchers in Guadalajara numbered in the thousands, and other cities including Chihuahua, Puebla, Michoacán, Querétaro and Chiapas reported hundreds of participants. The protests were organized by networks of students and social activists using social media and more traditional leafleting and word-of-mouth. While this was characterized as a civil society movement, the placards also criticized Josefina Vázquez Mota, candidate of the National Action Party, and Elba Esther Gordillo, head of the teachers union, founder of the New Alliance Party (PANAL), and backer of its candidate Gabriel Quadri de la Torre, suggesting that many of those in the march would be supporters of Andrés Manuel López Obrador, candidate of the Progressive Movement.
López Obrador, saying that he was not one to avoid protests, had urged his supporters to join the protest against Peña Nieto, but to keep it peaceful. And peaceful it was.
At the same time as the demonstrations were taking place throughout Mexico, Anonymous, the clandestine, radical hacker network, took down the PRI’s electronic homepage. The takedown was carried out in part by having social activists saturate the PRI homepage with queries or messages.
Students and other young people, such as those who organized and led this protest, represent an important factor in the coming Mexican elections in which, according to the Mexican Federal Election Institute (IFE), 14 million young people will be voting -- 3.5 million of them for the first time. Some 84.7 million people are registered to vote out of a total population of 113.4 million.
[See the article below on the economic programs of the Mexican presidential candidates.]
Mothers March on Mexico City Against Disappearances
Originally published in Frontera NorteSur: on-line, U.S.-Mexico border news. For a free electronic subscription email:firstname.lastname@example.org.
Hundreds of mothers of women and men missing in Mexico arrived in Mexico City on May 10, for protests and meetings in the nation’s capital which culminated the national march/caravan. Like last year’s caravans organized by poet Javier Sicilia and other relatives of violence victims, the mobilizations will remind Mexicans of the deep emotional wounds and unhealed psychological scars that devour families of forcibly disappeared persons.
Named the “March of National Dignity: Mothers Looking for their Sons and Daughters and Searching for Justice,” the protest was led by 300 women demanding clarification of the fates of between 600 and 700 relatives who went missing during the administration of outgoing President Felipe Calderón.
“For some it has been years, for others months or days of walking alone, of clamoring in the deserted hallways of indolent and irresponsible authorities, many of them directly responsible for (disappearances) or complicit with those who took (loved ones) away,” the mothers’ group said in a communiqué.
Among the many organizations supporting and/or endorsing the march are the Network of Human Rights Defenders and Families of the Disappeared, Women’s Human Rights Center, Justice for Our Daughters, Paso del Norte Human Rights Center, United Forces for Our Disappeared in Coahuila, and the Catholic Archdiocese of Saltillo. Solidarity actions, including protests at Mexican embassies, are planned this week in the United States, Canada, Honduras and El Salvador.
March contingents departed from the northern border states of Chihuahua, Coahuila and Nuevo Leon, wound their way through the Mexican heartland of the Bajío and arrived in Mexico City as Mother’s Day celebrations got underway. The Mexico City activities included not only the march to the Angel of Independence monument, but also a reading of the names and stories of the disappeared.
Senator Rosario Ibarra de Piedra, a pioneering human rights activist who organized Mexican mothers into the Eureka Committee to demand the return of children forcibly disappeared by government forces during the Dirty War of the 1970s, addressed the Mexico City protest. Her son was among those disappeared in the 19970s.
On Mother’s Day 2012, many Mexican mothers have “nothing to celebrate,” stressed Norma Ledezma, co-founder of Justice for Our Daughters in Chihuahua City. “As families, we want to take this occasion to tell society not to forget that in Mexico there is a home with a plate and a seat empty…”
Chihuahua, Coahuila and Nuevo Leon have been among the hardest-hit places in the violence that has steadily gnawed away at the fabric of Mexican society. In all three states, so-called narco-violence, femicides and threats and attacks against Central American immigrants passing through Mexico to the United States have registered extremely high volumes. Recent headlines include the discovery of at least 12 murdered young women outside Ciudad Juarez, Chihuahua, and the revelation that nearly 800 skeletal remains collected in the state of Chihuahua since 2007, mostly of men, remain unidentified by authorities.
The Chihuahua state prosecutor’s office lists 213 women missing in the state since 1993, with about 123 cases in Ciudad Juárez alone. But non-governmental organizations estimate a higher number. A review of the official list reveals a spike in cases after 2008, the year when widespread narco-violence broke out and thousands of army troops and federal police were deployed in Joint Operation Chihuahua and its successors.
While the international press usually homes in on stories about Ciudad Juárez, which borders the United States, alarming episodes of violence have increased in the state capital of Chihuahua City in recent weeks. In addition to a familiar pattern of disappearances, women’s murders and constant homicides, violence has erupted in very public places, even in broad daylight. Recent incidents include shoot-outs and/or mass slayings outside a Wal-Mart, inside an Applebee’s restaurant and at the Colorado Bar, where 15 people were gunned down on the evening of April 20. A suspect, Javier Arturo Hernández Najera, is reportedly in custody for a crime committed by multiple shooters.
Three members of a ‘60s-style rock combo that regularly performed at the Colorado Bar were among the victims of the massacre. Relatives of the ill-fated members of “Freddy’s Friends” described the musicians as hard-working men who held day jobs, were devoted husbands and fathers and uninvolved with the intrigues of organized crime.
“It isn’t easy to deal with how this came down,” the son and daughter of guitarist Juan Luis Vázquez were quoted. “You get used to hearing about the violence, four dead over there, 13 over here, and you get used to it even though it touches you. It’s ugly but you get used to it. Now we ask ourselves: Why them?”
Across Mexico, thousands and thousands of people are asking the same question.
Alma García, representative of United Forces for Our Disappeared in Coahuila, told the press that the the caravan demanded that Mexican government officials comply with United Nations recommendations on forced disappearances, create a “program of internal attention” and, above all, undertake “immediate searches for the disappeared.” García’s movement also demands the creation of a national data base of disappeared persons, the formulation of investigative protocols and the appointment of a special prosecutor for disappeared persons.
Since the 1970s, mothers and their supporters have launched distinct movements related to forced disappearances in various parts of Mexico -- with minimal results.
In Ciudad Juarez /El Paso, the International Association of Relatives and Friends of Disappeared Persons pressured the Zedillo and Fox administrations into successively naming several special prosecutors charged with uncovering the truth about nearly 200 disappeared people, mainly men, who vanished in the Mexican border city during the 1990s. On another front, the Fox administration created a special office within the federal attorney generals’ office to investigate and prosecute Dirty War disappearances.
A central player in both the Dirty War and narco-war chapters who was widely said to have first-hand knowledge of the whereabouts of victims of forced disappearance, retired army General Mario Arturo Acosta Chaparro, was shot dead in Mexico City last month. The former military official was assassinated as a truth commission assembled by the Guerrero state government began forming to investigate the Dirty War disappearances.
After 1997, victims’ relatives and women’s rights’ activists succeeded in getting first the Chihuahua state government and then the Mexican federal government to establish special law enforcement divisions officially dedicated to probing femicides and women’s disappearances in Ciudad Juarez. Fifteen years later, the cases have passed through the hands of almost as many prosecutors.
In 2009, the Inter-American Court of Human Rights handed down a judgment ordering Mexico to thoroughly investigate the disappearances of young women. As a signatory to the Court, the Mexican government is obliged to follow the verdict.
Despite a slew of measures arising from civil society pressure over the decades, few cases of forced disappearance have been cleared up and no credible prosecutions have ensued.
As old cases piled up, Mexico’s National Human Rights Commission documented 5,400 new cases of disappeared persons -- both men and women -- from 2006 to 2011, though non-governmental organizations speak of 10,000 or more people forcibly disappeared during the same time frame.
A recent report from the United Nations Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances contended that not all the latest cases could be attributed to organized crime operating alone. “On the contrary, state participation in forced disappearances is also present in the country,” the report stated.
Last year, Javier Zúniga of Amnesty International compared forced disappearance in Mexico with the situation that prevailed under the military dictatorships of South America during the 1970s.
“We have walked alone in the middle of stares and stigmatizing commentaries, and we have been treated like lepers, marginalized and condemned to the worst pain a human being could live: not knowing the whereabouts of our sons and daughters,” the new mother’s movement declared. “But now we are not alone. We have found hundreds of mothers and we unite our clamor and our love to recover our loved ones and bring them home.”
International Workers Day in Mexico: Last May Day of Pan Era
From Weekly News Update on the Americas, May 6.
Mexican unions marched on May Day, International Workers Day, as always, but this year more divided than usual by the elections. While there are generally two May Day celebrations, one by the official unions and another by the independent unions, unfortunately this year there were rifts among the independents, presenting the spectacle of a labor union movement divided against itself.
For a wonderful photogragh of the FAT on May Day, see the cover of La Jornada, see: http://www.jornada.unam.mx/2012/05/02/fotos/portada.jpg
[Weekly News Update on Mon, 05/07/2012 - 23:29.] Left-leaning independent unions dominated celebrations of International Workers Day in Mexico on May 1, while some labor federations decided not to hold marches, reportedly because of concern over security. Tens of thousands of union members, campesinos and other activists participated in the independent unions’ annual march to Mexico City's main plaza, the Zócalo. The left-leaning daily La Jornada reported that more unions and more unionists took part than in previous years.
The demonstration was largely a repudiation of what participants called the “PRI-AN,” that is, of the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI), which controlled the national government and most state governments from 1929 to 2000, and the conservative National Action Party (PAN), which has held the presidency since 2000. Speakers called for a “punishment vote” against both parties in the presidential and national elections on July 1 and referred to this year's demonstration as “the last Labor Day march of the PANista era.”
Martín Esparza, secretary general of the Mexican Electrical Workers Union (SME), called for unionists to back presidential candidate Andrés Manuel López Obrador, “the only one who has made commitments to the working class.” Esparza denounced the National Electoral Institute (IFE), which controls the electoral process. He called for workers to prevent electoral fraud by forming their own “parallel IFE.” López Obrador lost to President Felipe Calderón Hinojosa in 2006 by very narrow margin in the official tally.
The PAN is almost certain to be defeated in the July 1 election with its candidate Josefina Vázquez Mota tied for second place with López Obrador, each having 26 percent of the vote. Enrique Peña Nieto of the PRI leads with 45 percent.
The “PANista era” may already be over on the labor front. During the past six years two successive PAN administrations have tried to remove Napoleón Gómez Urrutia from his post as the general secretary of the National Union of Mine and Metal Workers and the Like of the Mexican Republic (SNTMMSRM). In 2006 the government of then-president Vicente Fox Quesada (2000-2006) charged Gómez Urrutia in a $55 million corruption case involving union funds, and in 2008 Calderón's administration overturned his reelection as SNTMMSRM general secretary. Gómez Urrutia has been living in exile in Vancouver since 2006.
But the fight against the union leader collapsed this spring. On April 24 Mexicans learned that Judge Manuel Bárcena Villanueva in Mexico City had quashed the warrant for Gómez Urrutia's arrest, and on May 2 a panel of the Supreme Court of Justice of the Nation (SCJN) upheld a lower court ruling that the government exceeded its authority in nullifying the union's elections. Gómez Urrutia will return to Mexico shortly, according to his lawyer. (Milenio, April 24; LJ, May 3, May 4)
Populist Candidate López Obrador Moves up in Polls in Mexico as His Keynesian Impulses Give Way to Appeals to Business
By Dan La Botz
A longer version of this article was first published on May 19, 2012 in New Politics at http://newpolitics.mayfirst.org/node/629
Mexico’s voters face an increasingly murky choice in the rapidly approaching July 1 national election between three conservative, pro-business candidates and a populist candidate who until recently offered Keynesian solutions to the country’s endemic problems of inadequate economic growth, huge economic and social disparities, and a political establishment dominated by and in the service of a handful of oligopolies.
All of the candidates promise to address Mexico’s greatest problem, creating enough jobs for its citizens, three of them principally by freeing business from government, and one of them through greater government intervention. While all of the candidates support the capitalist system, Andrés Manuel López Obrador has spoken most directly to the needs of the country’s small businessmen, working class, farmers and the poor. For the last few months, however, he has striven to garner more support from business by adopting a more conservative economic program virtually indistinguishable from the others.
López Obrador, the former mayor of Mexico City and the candidate who almost won the last presidential election in 2006, had at the beginning of the current race been running behind the two other leading contenders for the Mexican presidency. Now he has moved up into a tie for second place with an estimated 26 percent of the projected vote. Tied with him in second place, also with 26 percent of the vote, is Josefina Vázquez Mota, former cabinet minister in the government of President Felipe Calderón and standard bearer of the National Action Party (PAN). Enrique Peña Nieto, former governor of the State of Mexico and candidate of the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) leads with 45 percent. Also in the race, Gabriel Quadri de la Torre, of the New Alliance Party (PANAL), a party created by the Mexican Teachers Union (el SNTE), trails far behind with only about 1 percent of the vote.
Neoliberalism v. Keynesianism
López Obrador, a populist who until very recently espoused Keynesian positions, is running against three pro-business candidates with neoliberal programs, that is, conservative programs aiming to promote business. While PRI candidate Peña Nieto talks more than the other two pro-business candidates about a state with a sense of social responsibility, he, the PAN candidate Váquez Mota, and the PANAL candidate Quadri de la Torre all argue that Mexico’s problems will be solved by completing the economic reform carried out over the last twenty years in order to create a free market in which capitalism can flourish. In particular, these three candidates would all privatize the Mexican oil industry and the electric power industry, and while the PAN attacks Peña Nieto for having blocked labor law “reform,” all of these conservative candidates are committed to restricting and weakening the power of the labor unions. The labor law "reform" would among other things make it easier to fire workers, harder to organize unions or to change unions, and harder to strike.
Quadri, the candidate of the Mexican Teachers Union’s political party, has adopted a surprisingly hardline, pro-business platform—or perhaps not so surprising given the checkered political history of the woman who gives him his marching orders, Elba Esther Gordillo head of the Teachers Union. Over the past few years she bounced back and forth between the PRI and PAN until she seemed to wear out her welcome with both parties, even though her million-member union represents a huge army of potential door-knockers. Vázquez Mota, the first woman candidate of one of the major parties, has descended in the polls, presumably because of her association with the current Calderón administration which has overseen the persistent economic crisis and the slaughter of 50,000 in the drug war, and will probably continue downward. In the next few weeks then, it is likely that this will be a contest between Enrique Peña Nieto of the Institutional Revolutionary (Party), the governor of the State of Mexico best remembered for his heavy-handed repression of the Atenco protestors a few years ago, and López Obrador. The key issue in Mexico, as in the United States and Europe these days, will be the economy.
López Obrador Abandons his Keynesian Program
While best known as mayor of Mexico City for his public works programs and his support for old-age pensions, it now seems that López Obrador's candidate Keynesian impulses have been inhibited by his appeal to big business. Even in his days as mayor he worked closely with Mexico’s richest businessman, Carlos Slim Helu, on the renovation of the city’s historic center and the accompanying gentrification. Still, what distinguished him in Mexican politics was his populist rhetoric, his mass following among the poor, and his advocacy of government intervention in the economy. Among all the candidates, he is still the only one who opposes the privatization of the oil and energy industries and stands against the proposed labor law “reform.”
In a recent article in the Mexico City daily El Universal, he described his program, in the traditional language of Mexican nationalism, as a tripartite development model, bringing together the state, the private sector, and the social sector. He wants in particular to support “national industry,” to develop the backward South of the country, to build more gasoline refineries in order to escape dependence on foreign energy corporations, and to improve agriculture. He opposes monopolies and puts forward an ideal of “free competition.” His specific platform planks for improving the economy and creating jobs, however, are strikingly conservative:
• To respect the autonomy of the Banco de México, the country’s central bank.
• To maintain macroeconomic policies aimed at keeping down inflation.
• To reduce the current government budget by 15% by lowering salaries of high level officials and reducing waste.
• To take on no further government debt.
• To create no new taxes.
López Obrador’s economic program is entirely utopian, hoping to find enough money for social programs and economic expansion simply by cutting the fat, taking away the politicos’ perks, enforcing the tax laws, and ending corruption. The plan to cut government by 15% through these measures is either incredibly naïve or simply a disguised austerity program. The idea that there will be no new taxes, that is, no taxes on Mexico’s billionaires, their corporations, and their profits means that the country’s enormous economic inequalities will continue, and condemns tens of millions to continued poverty.
At times it seems that López Obrador has two faces and each one spouts a different economic plan, a populist and Keynesian plan for his base of working people and a conservative, pro-business plan for the media and the business community. The problem is that such duplicity only makes him appear unreliable to the elites and unfaithful to the people, and both are too smart to be fooled.
All of the candidates' economic programs in their own words can be found at:
PANAL: http://www.eluniversal.com.mx/nacion/196546.html )
English language interviews with Mexican candidates for the presidency:
Lopez Obrador - http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/interview-with-mexican-presidential-candidate-andres-manuel-lopez-obrador/2012/05/18/gIQAqjFMZU_story.html
Josefina Vázquez Mota - http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/interview-with-mexican-presidential-candidate-josefina-vazquez-mota/2012/05/18/gIQAlhFMZU_story.html
Enrique Peña Nieto - http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/interview-with-mexican-presidential-candidate-enrique-pena-nieto/2012/05/18/gIQAGoFMZU_story.html
USW Welcomes Restoration of Legal Status to Mexican Miners Leader
SOURCE United Steelworkers (USW) Copyright (C) 2012 PR Newswire. All rights reserved.
[PITTSBURGH, May 3, 2012 /PRNewswire via COMTEX/] -- The United Steelworkers (USW) today lauded the decision of the Mexican Supreme Court to restore legal recognition to Napoleón Gómez Urrutia, General Secretary of the National Union of Mine, Metal and Steelworkers (Los Mineros).
The Court's Second Chamber ruled 3-1 that the Mexican Labor Secretary acted illegally when he withdrew legal recognition from the union leader in 2008.
“This is a major victory for Los Mineros and all Mexican workers,” said USW International President Leo W. Gerard.
The decision comes one day before the opening of the Mineros Convention in Mexico City, which will be attended by leaders of the USW and other labor unions from around the world.
Last week, another Mexican court threw out the last criminal charge against Gomez, who has lived in Canada with USW support since 2006.
“Today’s decision should sound the death knell for the Mexican government's vicious and illegal persecution of Napoleon Gomez and Los Mineros,” Gerard said.
The USW is the largest industrial union in North America and has 850,000 members in the U.S., Canada, and the Caribbean. It represents workers employed in metals, rubber, chemicals, paper, oil refining, renewable and atomic energy, plus the service sector.
This article refers to two very important legal victories by Los Mineros: the official recognition of Napoleón Gómez Urrutia’s election as General Secretary and the dismissal of the last remaining criminal charge against him. However, we would note that another significant case involving Los Mineros that merits attention remains pending before the second chamber of the Mexican Surpreme Court. That case involves a strike that began on July 30, 2007 at the Sombrerete, Zacatecas, mine. The issue in the case (whether a company may ever determine when a strike is initiated or concluded or whether this is an absolute right accorded to workers) was considered so serious that in mid-April a prominent group of academics, union leaders and lawyers including Arturo Alcalde, Néstor de Buen, and Alfonso Bouzas published a declaration addressed to the Supreme Court and hosted a press conference regarding the issue. – ed.
Mexican DMI Workers Visit UE Members at DMI in Ohio
A version of this article appears on the UE web site
10 May, 2012
During May Day week (April 30-May 6), UE hosted a delegation from Mexico's Frente Autentico del Trabajo (FAT) to Chicago. The group included FAT national leader Benedicto Martínez Orozco and two rank-and-file leaders from the newly-organized DMI auto parts plant - Juan García de la Cruz and Hilario Nava Maldonado. On May Day, Martínez dedicated a plaque, in behalf of the FAT on Chicago's Haymarket monument. Over the weekend the FAT delegation, along with around 50 UE members, participated in the big Labor Notes Conference.
But May 2 was a special part of the trip, especially for the two DMI workers. On that day they traveled to Edon, Ohio -- about three hours east of Chicago -- to meet with UE Local 715 leaders, and toured the DMI plant there. Although UE members had toured the Mexican plant last year, this was the first time that FAT members from DMI have visited a UE-represented plant of the same company they work for. At the Edon plant they met with the five-person UE local executive committee, met with the plant manager and discussed the outlook for the company and the auto industry, and toured the plant, comparing notes with UE members on machines, products and work methods.
The DMI workers in Iztapalapa, Mexico (near Mexico City) organized three years ago to get out of a corrupt government-controlled union and become members of the FAT's metalworkers division, STIMAHCS. They won a labor board election, even though the process was heavily stacked against them, but the company stubbornly resisted recognizing and bargaining with the new democratic union. UE Local 715 members signed petitions and put pressure on the company. The Mexican union finally achieved a contract in January 2012.
DMI is Diversified Machine Inc., a manufacturer of automotive parts with plants in Spain, France, and China, as well as Mexico and the U.S. Several of its plants, including Edon and Iztapalapa, were formerly owned by Metaldyne Inc.
Mexico's Cananea Strikers: Fighting for the Right to a Union
By David Bacon This article was first published in In These Times on May 16, 2012.
Trade union activists, including members of the miners' union, Los Mineros, protest in Mexico City's main square, the Zócalo, on September 1, 2011. The protest, called the Day of the Indignant, was organized by unions to demand jobs, labor rights and an end to the repression of political dissidents.
Jacinto Martínez is the labor secretary of Section 65 of the Mineros, Mexico's union for miners and one of the oldest unions in the country. His union has been on strike for five years at the huge Cananea mine, one of the longest strikes in the history of North America. Critical support for this strike has come from the United Steelworkers, and both unions have announced their desire to merge to form a single organization.
Below, Martínez describes the history of the strike and the horrifying conditions in Cananea today. I interviewed him two weeks ago. The following is the text of that interview:
Our town is where the Mexican Revolution began in 1906, at a time when miners there were virtually enslaved. The mine was eventually taken over by the government, which ran it for many years. Nevertheless, over the last hundred years there were many strikes in this mine over wages and working conditions.
Finally, in 1989, the government stopped all operations at the mine and President Carlos Salinas de Gortari declared that the mine was bankrupt. In August of that year the government sent in federal troops. The miners were expelled from the mine, and the mine was closed for three months. Then Salinas sold it to private owners, Grupo Mexico, the company run by the Larrea family. Really, it was basically given away. The government had just invested 400 million pesos in the ore concentrator alone. Grupo Mexico bought the whole mine for 650 million.
After the Larrea family took over, we've had nothing but battle after battle with them. They are one of the largest mining companies in the world, and one of the richest families in Mexico. The company was forced to make certain commitments in order to take over the mine, but they've never fulfilled any of them. One was to share with the workers five percent of the price they'd paid for the mine. Because of their failure, in 2004 we took action to force the company to pay what had become by that time a debt of 55 million pesos.
After that things became even more difficult. Before, the government was at least a little concerned for our welfare. Now all dialogue with the government has been cut off, and they give total support to Grupo Mexico.
We went on strike again on June 30, 2007, because of the deteriorating conditions in the mine. Once the strike started, the federal government, through the labor board, declared it illegal several times. Each time we've gone to court, and the courts have overruled the board and restored the strike's legal status. According to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, we have a right to return to our jobs.
Once again, on April 14, 2010, the strike was declared legal by the courts. Nevertheless, at 10 p.m. the same day the company withdrew recognition from our union and broke off its employer/union relationship with us. That was completely illegal. But the government then brought in police and troops, and allowed the company to reopen the mine.
At the time we went on strike, there were about 1,200 members of our union. Now there are still 850 people on strike, five years later. The company has tried to buy people off by offering them severance pay if they'll give up any claim to their jobs. In my case, after 23 years working in the mine, they've offered me 1,007,000 pesos [about $85,000]. They've said that in addition, they'd give me 830,000 pesos to try to buy me out. But I won't take their offer, nor will any of the strikers.
We don't have Social Security medical insurance, so the medical care we get comes from the company as part of our employment. If we take their offer, we will lose all our medical care. The 850 strikers have been fighting for this too. To make matters worse, on Mother's Day in 2008, the company gave us an additional gift by closing the hospital where we received our care. Counting children and retirees, an additional 1,200 people lost their medical care because of that.
The government stepped in to provide some services, but even though we can see a doctor again, we have no money to buy medicine. This has hurt our retirees especially, because now they have to pay for medicine, where in the past the company had to provide it. Some of us have severe problems because of working in the mine, like silicosis and high blood pressure, so doing without medical care is not an option.
To protest government support for the company, about 50 miners have gone to Hermosillo, the state capitol, where they are occupying a site near the government building. When they come back to Cananea, other workers go to take their place. We are not the only local union of miners on strike. Section 17 has been on strike in Taxco and Section 201 in Zacatecas. We are all facing Grupo Mexico.
We are also protesting over what happened at Pasta de Conchos in 2006. The union made many requests to the Labor Secretary, asking that the government conduct inspections of that mine. But there were none, and finally there was a terrible explosion in which 65 miners were trapped inside and died. The only thing they did was close the mine. The company even refused to go in and bring back the bodies and the government backed them up. The company and government claimed it was an accident. But the president of our union, Napoleón Gómez Urrutia, held a press conference and called it industrial homicide. After that, the government tried to arrest him and he had to flee to Canada.
Since we've been fighting Grupo Mexico, we've had the financial support of the United Steelworkers in the U.S., who also gave sanctuary to our president. That's how we've been able to survive. More than 80,000 workers are contributing to our ability to go on fighting. And we are also receiving contributions from our own members in Mexico who are still working. So our situation in Cananea isn't good, but we've been able to continue for five years. Our members still support the strike totally.
The company has been able to restart production, using about 3,000 workers who are employed by contractors. There are about 2,000 federal soldiers guarding them. They've turned Cananea into an armed camp. They have towers with machine guns watching over people, and you can't even pass through certain streets in the center of town. This is why we're supporting Andrés Manuel López Obrador in his campaign for president in our national elections in July. He's promised that if he's elected, he'll defend us.
Grupo Mexico is really destroying Cananea. The mine pumps water from about 70 wells. Cananea, with a population of 30,000, only has two or three. The mine is buying up land throughout this area, and now has more land than the town itself. They use it to dump the mine tailings, which have already buried part of the old town.
Meanwhile, of the 300 members of our union who betrayed us and went back to work, only about 50 are left. The only way they've been able to make the mine run is by bringing in 3,000 people from outside, from Oaxaca, Puebla and other states in the south. The economic situation in these states is worse than here in the north. There's no work, no jobs there.
Grupo Mexico has built special housing for many of the strikebreakers on the mine property, called colectivos. They're like barracks. For others, the company rents big houses in town, where a lot of them are housed together. The company then picks them up in buses in the morning and brings them back at night. That way it controls them. And the whole economy of Cananea has collapsed because these workers aren't living in the area like normal residents. Many of them actually come here because we're close to the U.S. border, and they're thinking about jumping the fence. The reality is that the economy here is pretty dead.
Grupo Mexico mistreats these workers. It's gone back to the same conditions people rose up against in 1906, when miners went on strike for the 8-hour day. The strikebreakers are working 12 hours a day. They all have to belong to a protection union, part of the CTM [the Confederation of Mexican Workers, affiliated to Mexico's former ruling party, the PRI]. Then, after working four or five months, the company fires them. They only get 1,300 pesos a week [about $100], so when people want to go home, they don't have enough money to get back. Some of the fired workers wander through the streets, begging for help from other workers so they can get home.
With people brought in from outside to work the mine, the only solution for the people of Cananea itself is to leave, to migrate. There's no other work here. Some go to other states, or to other cities in northern Mexico. They leave by themselves to look for work. Then right after they get paid on Friday, they send the money home to their families. Most go to the United States.
That's logical, because the border is only a half hour away, and Tucson's only three hours from here. And that's where the work is. Sometimes people just go to work for two or three weeks, and then come back, trying to find a way to keep on living here. They try to use the work in the U.S. to build up their reserves. This also happened after the three-month strike in 1998.
The people who are on strike are all people who live here, and most of us have been living here for generations. The head of our strike committee, Jesús Verdugo, is the third generation in his family to work in the mine. Now his children are old enough to work. But if we don't win the strike, they'll never work here. We're losing our traditions; we're losing the whole history of Cananea. And this is because of what Grupo Mexico and the federal government are doing to us.
You could say we're fighting for our right and ability to keep on living in Cananea.
Mexican Electrical Workers, Other Unions Found New Federation
The Mexican Electrical Workers Union (SME), the Mexican Miners and Metal Workers Union (SNTMMRM), several locals of the Mexican Teachers Union (el SNTE) and several other unions came together on April 21 and took the first step toward founding a new, independent labor federation that would be made up of many of the most militant Mexican unions. The unions, representing several hundred thousand workers, established a Provisional Committee to lead the project forward.
While the unions which participated are significant, still they represent only a small part of organized Mexican workers, most of whom are members of either “official” unions and federations or of the independent National Union of Workers (UNT). While there were UNT union leaders present, they were only there as observers.
Hector de la Cueva of the Center for Labor Information and Union Consultation speaking at the gathering stressed that it was just a first step in the construction of a new federation, a process which could take months and which should be open to other union sectors. With Mexico currently involved in the national election campaign until July 1, followed by summer vacations, there will not likely be much progress in the organization of the new federation until the fall.
International Tribunal for Trade Union Right to Freedom of Association
By Dean Hubbard
From April 29-May 3, the International Tribunal for Trade Union Freedom of Association (Tribunal Internacional de Libertad Sindical, or TILS), conducted its fourth set of public hearings and made its third annual public declaration in the Zócalo (main plaza) at the May Day mobilization of independent unions in Mexico City. The Tribunal is composed of preeminent jurists, scholars, writers and human rights activists from throughout the Americas, as well as Spain.
Continued Violations of Workers' Human Rights
The TILS held a public hearing on Sunday, April 29, at which 17 different independent unions presented testimony on grave abuses of the fundamental rights of human beings at work by the Mexican government, working hand-in hand with transnational corporations and “protection” and clientelist (or “charro”) unions.
These range from the continued detention of 12 members of the Mexican Electric Utility workers union (Sindicato Mexicano de Electricistas, or SME) as political prisoners, to the government’s ongoing refusal to release the bodies of 65 members of the Miners (Mineros) union killed in the Pasta de Conchos mine explosion, to its refusal to reinstate 26 trade union activists who were ousted at gunpoint by paramilitaries from their jobs at the state-owned oil company PEMEX. New violations include Honda’s hiring of armed paramilitary guards to prevent representatives of a recently recognized independent union from meeting with workers, and many other abuses of workers’ human rights.
Video (in Spanish) of the testimony at the Tribunal’s public hearing is available here: http://www.youtube.com/user/TILSMexico
At the same time, the Tribunal recognized that advances have occurred in the past year, as a result not only of the advocacy of the Tribunal but of amicus submissions from groups like the International Commission for Labor Rights (ICLR), solidarity provided by the international labor movement (as demonstrated by the work of the Tri-National Solidarity alliance and others), and most importantly the continued courageous activism of independent unions and their members in Mexico.
The most significant advance came as the Tribunal was conducting its work in Mexico City on May 2. Shortly after the Tribunal ended a press conference, the Second Chamber of the Supreme Court of Justice of the Nation (Mexico’s highest court) issued a ruling that the state must recognize the election 4 years ago of Napoleón Gómez Urrutia as Secretary General of the Mineros Union, overturning the denial of “toma de nota” (administrative recognition of the union’s elected leadership without which the union has no legal existence) by the Secretary of Labor of the Administration of Mexican President Felipe Calderón.
Urrutia has been in exile in Canada for six years because of fraudulent criminal charges against him by the Mexican government. The government initiated these charges after Urrutia referred to the 2006 deaths of the 65 miners at the Pasta de Conchas mine, owned by Grupo Mexico, Mexico’s most powerful corporation and the strongest political ally of the right wing PAN party of President Calderón, as “industrial homicide.” This was viewed as a betrayal by Grupo Mexico and the governing party, who expected Urrutia to continue in the “charro” tradition of his father, who preceded him as President of the Mineros union.
The week before the Tribunal began its work, a federal court dismissed the last of the eight arrest warrants against Urrutia, although the government may still appeal. The May 2 ruling confirmed that the Supreme Court is serious about a decision it made last summer holding that the state may not interfere with the internal affairs of a union by improperly denying “toma de nota” to its elected leadership.
Declaration to Hundreds of Thousands of Workers at May Day Rally
On May 1, the international workers’ holiday, as Occupy-inspired protesters moved through the streets of U.S. cities, the Tribunal delivered its Declaration to thousands of workers who filled the Zócalo, Mexico City’s historic central plaza. (See below).
The Tribunal's Resolution
The Tribunal has completed a draft of a detailed Resolution, which examines the facts of each of the 19 cases presented to it, analyzes the cases under relevant national and international labor rights norms, and makes detailed conclusions and recommendations regarding each, as well as the general situation facing independent unions and workers in Mexico. The members of the Tribunal expect to finalize and release the Resolution by the end of the month.
International Tribunal on Trade Union Freedom of Association Declaration of May Day 2012
To the independent Mexican trade union movement/ To the workers of Mexico and the world/ To national and international public opinion:
This is a special May Day. All over the world, workers are leaving their workplaces to show that better times lie ahead, and they are not willing to pay the costs of a crisis they did not cause. Even in the U.S., where until recently the origins of May 1 seemed to be forgotten, large mobilizations are taking place. Occupy, the Indignados--disgruntled workers are out in the streets everywhere. Today we hear in the major streets and plazas around the world the cry, “We are the 99%,” which resounds with the international solidarity among the peoples.
The members of this International Tribunal on Freedom of Association, constituted in response to the call of Mexican workers, are delighted to celebrate May Day and deliver their message in the Zócalo (central plaza) of Mexico City.
This session of our Tribunal is taking place at a time when capital’s anxiousness to further cheapen the labor force and reduce social rights has intensified. Even European workers today are subject to structural adjustment programs designed by the International Monetary Fund - the very same IMF that Mexico has given millions of dollars to, squeezed from the misery of its people. The defeat of the European social model will be a defeat for all workers in the world.
A new neoliberal avalanche is destroying jobs, human rights and hard won achievements across the world. Its main victims are the young, doomed to live with unemployment, precariousness and insecurity; migrants, whose most basic rights are taken away in both their homelands and their new destinations; and women, who suffer femicides carried out with maximum impunity. Unfortunately, Mexico has become a shocking example of all of this.
The use of violence and state-led repression is not unrelated to economic crises caused by excessive desire for profit. With a variety of excuses - drug trafficking, international terrorism and national security - authoritarian systems predicated on crushing the civil liberties of the most vulnerable people in society, are gaining new ground. Alas, Mexico is a cruel example of this as well.
The criminalization of social protest, the outlawing of strikes, and especially the limits on freedom of association are an expression of this gradual but accelerating advance on the rights of working people.
This all means that, today, freedom of association and the ability of workers to organize independently of employers and governments is more of a necessity than ever for survival of the working class and even of humanity. The exercise of human and social rights, and true democracy, cannot be complete without the freedom of those who work for a living to associate freely and without coercion of any kind.
It is against this background that this year the International Tribunal on Freedom of Association was again called into session in Mexico, to judge the State that is responsible for safeguarding this fundamental right and for ensuring compliance with international conventions for the benefit of all Mexicans. We take note that in Mexico there has been progress in granting constitutional status to international standards and in recognizing labor rights as human rights, but we demand full and true implementation of these changes.
In considering the testimony and documents submitted by many Mexican workers, the International Tribunal has confirmed a sharp increase of the violation of the rights of all the workers of Mexico, as well as the criminalization of social protest, in the midst of an alarming militarization of the country and violence that we know to have claimed 60,000 lives. Exiling the leader of the miners’ union and holding members of the Mexican electric utility workers’ union (the SME) as political prisoners are the most egregious examples of this criminalization. We demand his return and their immediate release.
We therefore conclude that, this year, at the end of six years of this government, the balance for working people is quite negative. Unfortunately, their situation included a reduction in their freedoms and rights, and in particular, a scandalous series of attacks on the free association of workers in favor of powerful economic interests in Mexico and abroad.
For example, we have found that far from being resolved, the Mexican government has, for years, maintained the state of the grave violations committed against the SME and the miners’ union. We call here for the immediate redress of these violations in accordance with the Constitution and international conventions.
Likewise, we found that workers in virtually all sectors - industry, energy, telecommunications, services, and education - are victims of all kinds of abuses, and that a long chain of obstacles still prohibits the free exercise of trade union organization.
Despite the law, mechanisms such as "toma de nota" (legal recognition of union leaders) and union registration are still being misused and applied arbitrarily by the authorities. Incredibly, we found that in the supposedly democratic Federal District (Mexico City), the Local Labor Board has issued a decree that illegally adds more than 300 "criteria" as prerequisites to granting recognition.
We also condemn the growing abuses by transnational corporations in the country, illustrated by the cases of Honda and Telefónica-Atento, as well as by Wal-Mart which, in addition to newly evidenced corrupt practices, benefits from a whole system of labor abuse in complicity with the authorities, including obstruction of real unionization.
On the basis of the above, therefore, we express our condemnation of the continuing practices that violate freedom of association, which are encouraged or condoned by the Mexican state; and we demand their immediate correction. And, as such, we call upon the various international human and labor rights bodies to act immediately to demand the respect of international norms in Mexico.
Sister and brothers, Mexican workers, nothing is inevitable. South America and other regions of the world are already showing that with organization and the determined struggle of the peoples, paths other than neoliberalism can be found, with more democracy and freedoms possible. It is possible. You can recover freedom of association and, with, it the possibility of improving your living conditions. Today, on May 1st, in streets across the world and here in Mexico, the workers are showing what a mobilized society can make possible. In the end, the workers will win.
Long live the activist workers of Mexico and the world!
Wal-Mart Scandal Investigation Expands—time to Look at Unions
The New York Times revealed in late April that Wal-Mart de Mexico (Walmex) had distributed US$24 million in bribes to Mexican officials, that the Mexican company had discovered the payoffs in 2005, but then the U.S. parent company shut down any further investigation.
U.S. government agencies are investigating possible violations of U.S. law. At the same time, some U.S. pension funds have taken legal action against the company and the French retailer Carrefour is allegedly contemplating legal action.
The Mexican Attorney General announced on April 26 that he would open an investigation into possible violations of the law.
Wal-Mart said that it had begun an investigation into its compliance with the U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) last fall and that it had disclosed the probe to the U.S. Department of Justice and U.S. the Securities and Exchange Commission.
Time to Look at the Unions
The International Campaign against Employer Protection Contracts in Mexico, founded in 2007, Alfonso Bouzas, an academic involved in the Campaign, said that they had been denouncing the irregularities in Wal-Mart de México’s labor agreements for some time. The Campaign claims (in its Boletín, CCPP No. 25, May 2012) that five “official” unions linked to the government and to the political parties, offer protection contracts to Wal-Mart. Protection contracts generally offer little more than the legal minimum wages, benefits and conditions and greatly restrict workers’ rights to select their union.
California State Teachers' Retirement System Files Lawsuit
Meanwhile, the Mexico Solidarity Network reported that the California State Teachers' Retirement System filed a lawsuit against current and former WalMart executives and board members, charging corporate mismanagement: “Known as a derivative action, the suit is brought by shareholders on behalf of the company against a third party. The retirement fund holds 5.3 million shares of WalMart. The suit claims WalMart officials participated in ‘rampant corruption,’ exposing the company to ‘potentially hundreds of millions of dollars of liability’ when WalMart executives in Mexico ‘approved of the payment of bribes as a business practice to speed WalMart's entry into the Mexican market and choke out the competition.’"
UNI Approves Resolution on Protection Contracts and Labor Reform in Mexico
UNI Americas Regional Executive Committee, meeting in Mexico City on 26-27 April 2012:
CONSIDERS that protection contracts are a threat not only to the fundamental rights and freedoms of Mexican workers but to those of workers in the region and in the whole world.
STATES that there is a serious, systematic, constant violation of workers’ fundamental rights in Mexico, and that protection contracts are one of the main causes of these violations.
STATES that protection contracts represent one of the worst models for imposing neoliberal policies in the region. They have negative consequences, notably they create a greater inequality and job insecurity for workers, and hinder economic development and productivity in companies where they exist.
WARNS of the proliferation of this type of contract in different countries in the region. They are largely introduced by Mexican companies that select unions for their own benefit, and pretend to engage in collective bargaining and respect workers’ representation.
REJECTS both the existence and the spread of these contracts inside and outside of Mexico.
STANDS IN FULL SOLIDARITY with Mexican union organizations in their fight against these kinds of contracts and in favor of the reform of structural, legal and institutional provisions that have made their existence possible.
CALLS ON the Mexican Government and companies to acknowledge their responsibility and contribution to the existence of protection contracts, as well as their negative impact on workers, and to the deterioration and degradation of the living conditions of Mexican people.
CALLS ON the Mexican Government and companies to consider the elimination of these contracts as a key, clear objective in their proposed labor reforms, and to set as minimum standards in these reforms the ILO international core labor standards.
DEMANDS that Mexican multinationals put an end to company-controlled unions and protection contracts in their regional and global expansion processes.
URGES the Mexican Government to sign ILO Convention No. 98 and to incorporate it in its labor policies.
Labor Shorts: UNTYPP, STUHM, FAT and SME
UNTyPP Local 3 finally gained recognition from Pemex: the company issued a letter indicating that the Local’s Secretary, Marcos Rayón, was to be recognized by Human relations.
Some 20 members from the Sindicato de Trabajadores Unidos de Honda de México demonstrated outside the G-20 Labor Ministerial Meeting on May 17 to protest the company’s failure to recognize the union. Click here for photo from El Milenio article and here for video
FAT PLAQUE UNVEILED ON HAYMARKET MEMORIAL
On May 1, the FAT was honored in Chicago by the Illinois Labor History Society (ILHS) during their annual May Day ceremony and commemoration of the Haymarket martyrs, their fight for the eight-hour day and workers’ rights. Benedicto Martínez spoke at the commemoration where he unveiled the plaque, and later at the May Day march. The plaque, containing the message “Through cross-border solidarity the working class is building a new world with dignity, rights, and justice for all. May, 2012 ” in both English and Spanish was added to the base of the Haymarket memorial.
MEXICAN PARTICIPATION AT LABOR NOTES
FAT national leader Benedicto Martínez Orozco and two rank-and-file leaders from the newly-organized DMI auto parts plant - Juan García de la Cruz and Hilario Nava Maldonado – joined some 50 members of the United Electrical Workers (UE) at the Labor Notes Conference in Chicago. They made presentations in four workshops and Martínez also addressed the international convention of Railroad Workers United.
José Humberto Montes de Oca from SME joined Martínez and UE’s Robin Alexander at the packed workshop Independent Unions in Mexico and the Tri-National Solidarity Alliance.
The L20 Trade Union Statement to the G20
The L20 Trade Union Statement to the G20 Employment and Labour Ministers’ Meeting in Guadalajara, Mexico, 17-18 may 2012 can be viewed at: http://www.ituc-csi.org/l20-trade-union-statement-to-the.html?lang=en
Book Review by Maria Lorena Cook
Bringing the Worker Back in: New Studies of Work in Mexico
Maria Lorena Cook, Cornell University, ILR School, reviews Hernández Romo, M. A. (Ed.) (2010). Estudios Laborales en México. México, DF: UAM-Iztapalapa and Plaza y Valdés editores. 215 pp. Abstract: This collection of “new studies of work” from Mexico represents one of several directions in research on labor and work in Latin America in recent years. Although firm-level, national, and transnational studies remain important, this research stream centers on individual workers, their web of relationships, and the reconfiguration of spaces of work, identities, and processes. Her review appears in Work and Occupations May 2012 vol. 39 no. 2 139-147.
New Repository of Mexican Labor Documents
Alfonso Bouzas has informed us that the Instituto de Investigaciones Económicas and UNAM have created an information repository which includes works by collaborating authors: http://ru.iiec.unam.mx/view/creators/index.B.html
New Law to Protect Journalists
In the last ordinary session of the Sixteenth Legislature of the Congress, the Bill for a Protection Mechanism for Human Rights Defenders and Journalists was finally passed unanimously in the Mexican Chamber of Deputies. A week before, the Senate had unanimously approved the new law and held a minute silence for HRDs and journalists who had been victims of violence too. The new law establishes a clear legal framework for cooperation between federal and state authorities to implement effective measures to protect people at risk because of their work in promoting human rights, freedom of expression and journalism.
CCPP No. 25 on Wal-Mart
We have been informed that the May, 2012 issue of Boletín C C P P (Campaña Internacional Contra los Contratos Colectivos de Protección Patronal en México) Number 25 covers the Wal-Mart scandal. (It will be available in Spanish at http://www.democraciaylibertadsindical.org.mx/index.php?option=com_flippingbook&view=category&layout=thumbnails&id=1&Itemid=15)
Labor Organizations Plan Event at ILO Meeting in Geneva
ITUC and IMF are organizing an event on violations to Freedom of Association in Mexico, during the ILO meeting in Geneva on the afternoon of June 12th.
G-20 Events in Mexico
G-20 events in Mexico City: June 13: (womens’ meeting and international forum on energy hosted by SME); June 14 – 15: international forum including a panel on labor on the morning of June 15 and march; June 17: march in Baja California and other events on June 17 – 19.