|Detail of poster for artistic exchange & the FAT's 13th convention|
|Artist Beatriz Aurora|
Mexican Labor News & Analysis
August , 2012, Vol. 17, No. 8
Contents for this issue:
- Waiting for September 6
- Mexico’s Independent Unions Prepare to Confront the Pri
- Mexican Miners Reelect Napoleón Gómez Urrutia; Chart Course
- SANDAK Workers Attacked by Management security, 3 Injured
- Honda Workers Demand Union Representation Election Again
- Mexicana Still Closed after Two Years of Failed Efforts
- Railroad Workers Demand National Union Keep Clear of Local Elections
- Mexican Government Gives Federal Employees 5.75% Raise
- Mexican Truckers Stage National Protest
- Labor Statistics and Scholarship Opportunity
Waiting for September 6
By Dan La Botz
In Mexico some are waiting with bated breath. Some are biding their time, while others are straining at the bit, anxious to act. Most Mexicans however appear to have already accepted the published results of the national presidential, congressional and gubernatorial elections that took place on July 1, and that will almost surely be made official on Sept. 6.
The presumption is that the Mexican Electoral Tribunal will recognize the election of Enrique Peña Nieto of the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) as president, despite objections filed by Andrés Manuel López Obrador of the Party of the Democratic Revolution (PRD). If so, Peña Nieto will be sworn in and become president on Dec. 1. While there will surely protests on Sept. 6 and Dec. 1, they are not likely to be in the hundreds of thousands as they were in 2006.
López Obrador, while exhausting every legal channel and continuing to hold press conferences denouncing election fraud, has all but promised that he will not attempt to carry out the sorts of massive protests he organized six years ago paralyzing Mexico City for weeks. In 2006 the Mexican election authorities declared Felipe Calderón the winner over López Obrador by less than one percentage point, while this time, the official results gave Peña Nieto first place by almost seven percentage points. Although López Obrador called foul in both cases, alleging fraud of various sorts, this time most Mexicans appear to be accepting the outcome, despite allegations of massive vote-buying by the PRI.
Parties and Unions Accept the Results
While the PRD has formally supported its candidate and his protests, its leaders have no stomach for a struggle. With a projected 134 out of 500 legislators in the lower house, the PRD wants to get down to business. The others parties seem to have accepted the election results as well and are proceeding under the supposition that that the PRI not only won the presidency but that with its satellite the Green Party has a plurality in both houses and could achieve a majority if it succeeds in creating an alliance with the New Alliance Party (PANAL). By and large the parties and legislators seem to have no interest in any further fights about the election.
The labor unions also appear to have accepted the official results. The PRI’s Congress of Labor (CT) unions, such as the Confederation of Mexican Workers (CTM) are rejoicing in the return of their patron party to power. Even the independent National Union of Workers (UNT) has said it accepts the results and will not participate in post-election protests. The Mexican Miners and Metal Workers Union (SNTMMRM), having been persecuted by the National Action Party (PAN) for the last six years, has also accepted the results, hoping to see an end to the abuse it has suffered under President Felipe Calderón.
Student Movement Fading
The #IAm132 student movement, that inspired protests around the country against Peña Nieto, the PRI and the Televisa television network that helped elect him, has largely subsided in less than three months. After a flurry of activity including massive protests in Mexico City, significant protests in the provinces, various conventions and proclamations, the student movement appears to have petered out. Carrying on a protest movement for six months, including through the summer holidays, has proven to be too much for the students, it seems. While various #IAm132 factions continue to meet, plan, and issue manifestos, it is not clear that the movement will be able to mount major protests on Sept. 6 or Dec. 1 as it had planned.
The student movement and its allies among the disaffected in the middle classes, workers, peasants and the urban poor has not been able to overcome the power of the establishment, media bias, endemic corruption and election fraud of one sort or another. By almost anyone’s count, two-thirds of all Mexicans voted for the conservative parties, the PRI and the National Action Party (PAN), while only one-third voted for the center-left PRD. The small Mexican left activist movement has simply been unable to change that balance of political forces. There will surely be protests in the next four months, and they may reach into the tens or even hundreds of thousands for a day or two, but at this point it seems highly unlikely—barring some new incident or the revelation of some other information—that Peña Nieto’s election will be overturned.
Mexico’s Independent Unions Prepare to Confront the Pri
By Dan La Botz
Mexico’s independent unions and democratic labor movements have been “pulverized” during the administration of President Felipe Calderón of the National Action Party (PAN), says labor attorney Nestor de Buen. De Buen, who has represented some of those independent unions, told the Mexico City daily La Jornada that the PAN’s Secretaries of Labor favored entrepreneurs and bosses, ignored violations of labor law, and effectively eliminated the right to strike. During the administrations of PANistas Fox and Calderón, the government persecuted the Mexican Electrical Workers Union (SME), the Mexican Miners and Metal Workers, and neglected the Mexicana Airlines employees. They acted, said de Buen, “as if it were a sin to have good working conditions.”
Still, the independent unions are not expecting any picnic under president Enrique Peña Nieto and his Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) either. The PRI, which ruled Mexico from 1929 to 2000, always controlled and backed its own “official” labor unions organized in the Congress of Labor (CT), made up of the Confederation of Mexican Workers (CTM) and other federations as well as most of the country’s major industrial unions. Only in the mid-1990s was an independent labor confederation, the National Union of Workers (UNT), created, as well as the independent coalition known as the Mexican Union Front (FSM). Still, those organizations as well as independent federations such as the Authentic Labor Front (FAT), struggled for existence under attacks from both the employers and the PRI government.
Fearing that they will face the same sort of prejudicial treatment again, leaders of the Union Association of Aviation Pilots (ASPA), the Mexican Telephone Workers Union (STRM), and the Mexican Electrical Workers Union (SME), gathered at the thirty-first regular convention of the Union of Workers of the National Autonomous University of Mexico (STUNAM), discussed the creation of a labor union front to resist the PRI’s call for a labor law reform bill that would make it more difficult for unions to organize and strike while also encouraging employers to hire subcontracted, part-time, and temporary employees. “It’s time for those of us in the unions and in peasant organizations to come together and give battle,” said Francico Hernández Juárez, head of the telephone workers.
Mexican Miners Reelect Napoleón Gómez Urrutia; Chart Course
Nearly one thousand delegates of the Mexican Miners and Metal Workers Union (SNTMMRM) met in a special general convention in Mexico City at the beginning of August where they reelected Napoleón Gómez Urrutia their general secretary, the union’s top office. Gómez Urrutia, however, remained in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada where he has been leading the union from exile for the last six years. The miners’ leader fled Mexico after being indicted on charges of embezzling US$55 million belonging to the union’s members. While he has since been cleared of all charges, he remains in Canada, fearing further persecution in Mexico.
The Miners voted to continue to support the strikes of their members in Local 17 in Taxco, Guerrero, Local 201 in Sombrerete, Zacatecas, Local 42 at the Cerro del Mercado mine in Durango, and Local 309 at La Patosa, also in Durango, as well as the five-year strike at the Cananea mine in Cananea, Sonora. Grupo Mexico, with the backing of the Mexican government’s police, defeated the union at Cananea in 2010. Grupo Mexico subsequently imposed a company union and by the spring of 2011 regular operations had resumed. The Mexican Miners union has never accepted the defeat and continues to insist that the union represents the former workers who should be returned to their jobs in the mine.
With mining deaths and injuries all too frequent, the Miners Union delegates also decided to carry out a vigorous fight for mine safety, both demanding that the government intervene to protect workers’ safety and using the union’s power when necessary.
The Miners union is also involved in a struggle for union recognition at the PKC-Mexico company in Ciudad Acuña, Coahuila. There the Miners face what they claim is unfair competition from the Confederation of Mexican Workers (CTM). The mining company has reportedly been pressuring and threatening miners to get them to vote for the CTM union. The new IndustiALL Global Union and the United Steel Workers have demanded that PKC allow the workers to exercise their free will in choosing a union.
General Secretary Gómez told the Miners that they must also be prepared to resist the proposed labor law reform backed by both the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) and the National Action Party (PAN). He warned workers that those parties and the CTM union federation were colluding in secret to pass a labor law reform which would take away their rights and undermine their conditions.
Two weeks after the convention, the Miners Union dedicated a bust to Napoleón Gómez Sada, the former general secretary and father of the current leader. The bust was dedicated on the occasion of a celebration of what is often referred to as the first Mexican strike, a miners’ strike at the Real del Monte mine in Pachuca in 1766.
SANDAK Workers Attacked by Management security, 3 Injured
Sandak Shoes, the world’s largest footwear producer, sent security guards to attack striking workers at its plant in Calpulalpan, Tlaxcala. Violating Mexican labor law, the company sent guards to break up the seals put on the gates by the striking union. Having done so, the guards then assaulted three women strikers, Yolanda Franco Espinoza, María Luisa Hernández Moreno and Margarita Maravilla Sánchez, sending them all to the hospital emergency room. As the events were taking place, the local labor board ruled that the company had the right to remove the seals, though this violates both the law and tradition.
Workers at Sandak went on strike almost a year ago, but the state labor board declared the strike illegal. The workers struck because the plant had closed without notice in July 2011, repudiating the existing labor agreement, and informing workers that they could work for piece rate from their homes. Rejecting that insulting proposition, workers struck.
Letter sent by UE; To support the Sandak workers, please use this as a model or draft your own!
August 22, 2012
Dr. Noé Rodríguez Roldán, Secretario de Gobierno
Lic. Miguel Moreno Mitre, Secretario Particular
VIA email: firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com
Dear Doctor Rodríguez Roldán and Lic. Moreno Mitre,
We are writing on behalf of the thousands of members of our union to express our grave concern with the actions of the Calzado Sandak company, a subsidiary of the transnacional Bata. We have been informed that its representative, C. Adán Nava Medina, was responsible for physical aggression against workers who were protecting the tools of their trade at the plant in Calpulalpan, Tlaxcala.
The information we received is as follows:
After the Sole Union of Workers at Calzado Sandak was notified of the ruling by judges Othón Manuel Ríos Flores, Justino Gallegos Escobar and Octavio Chávez López of court of the 28th circuit that the strike was “inexistente” and the labor Board abstained from ordering the reopening of the plant within 24 hours, the workers remained at the plant gates waiting for their workplace to re-open.
On August 20, 2012, in Calpulalpan, Tlaxcala, approximately at 11:05 a.m., C. Adán Nava Medina, a representive of the Calzado Sandak company of Bata Internacional arrived at the plant with security guards who, without the presence of representatives of the Labor Board tore off the seals placed by the Board, opened the gates and entered the plant. Some workers approached them to ask information about when work would begin again at the plant and the guards responded violently with shoves and blows. The other workers who were present came up to them to support their co-workers and prevent further acts of provocation and violence. There were varias people injured and three women – Yolanda Franco Espinoza, María Luisa Hernández Moreno and Margarita Maravilla Sánchez were taken to the emergency room at the IMSS hospital located in Calpulalpan, Tlaxcala.
Given the violence that had been experienced the police were called for support, but refused to intervene or to detain the aggressors. These attacks are also the responsibility of the Labor Board, as it was required to appear with the parties to the dispute to remove the seals and officially sanction the reopening of the plant.
For these reasons we ask that you immediately take appropriate measures to ensure the physical protection of the workers and protection of their labor and civil rights, specifically:
• Guarantee the physical safety and integrity of the workers;
• Guarantee the right of the workers at Calzado Sandak to execize their legitimate right to strike;
• Ensure the reopening of the plant that was arbitrarily and unjustly closed.
We look forward to hearing from you soon.
Bruce J. Klipple, President
Andrew Dinkelaker, Secretary- Treasurer
Robert B. Kingsley, Director of Organization
More Information and a Short Video
For more information and a short video in Spanish, see the FAT website.
Honda Workers Demand Union Representation Election Again
Honda workers are once again demanding that the Labor Board organize and carry out a representation election in the plant in El Salto, near Guadalajara, Jalisco.
Several years ago workers at the plant decided to organize a union, only to discover that management had already brought in a union affiliated with the Confederation of Mexican Workers (CTM) and had signed a contract unknown to the workers. When, in May of 2010 workers attempted to register their own Union of United Workers of Honda of Mexico, the Secretary of Labor rejected their petition on a minor technicality. The courts ordered the Labor Board in August of 2011 to carry out a representation election.
The company responded by signing a contract with another CTM affiliate, rather than with the union the workers wanted. They also had the union’s leader, José Luis Solorio, arrested for supposedly stealing a pen. While he was later released on bond, the charge continues to hang over his head.
Despite international solidarity from the United Auto Workers (UAW) union of the United States and the International Metalworkers Federation (IMF), the union has made little progress. The employer and the labor authorities continue to place obstacles in the independent union’s path.
Mexicana Still Closed after Two Years of Failed Efforts
Mexicana Airlines remains closed after two years of failed efforts by the government, the unions, and more than half a dozen different financial groups to put the company in the air again.
The airline, suffering from serious financial problems, was shut down by the Secretaries of Communications and Transportation and of Labor on August 27, 2010. As a result, more than 8,000 workers, some 6,000 of them union members were idled.
The Association of Airline Pilots (ASPA), the Flight Attendants Union (ASSA), and the ground workers unions have negotiated, lobbied and demonstrated throughout the last two years, but without success.
Railroad Workers Demand National Union Keep Clear of Local Elections
As Mexican railroad workers’ unions were in the process of voting for new local leaders in late August, Orlando Velasco Cabal, speaking on behalf of a slate running for office at Local 20 in Orizaba, demanded that the Mexican Railroad Workers Union (SNTFRM) general secretary, Victor Flores, “keep his hands off the election process and leave us to decide who will lead our local union during the next six years.”
Rank-and-file railroad workers and retirees have long complained that Victor Flores behaves as a dictator, controlling national and local elections, as well as using union funds for his own interests.
Mexican Government Gives Federal Employees 5.75% Raise
After several months of negotiation, the Mexican government has agreed to give 1.2 million federal employees a 5.75 percent wage increase. José Ayala Almeida, head of the Federation of Unions of Workers at the Service of the State (FSTSE), the country’s largest public employee organization, said that the increase will take affect at the end of August.
Mexican Truckers Stage National Protest
Originally published in FronteraNorteSur - FNS - University of New Mexico at http://fnsnews.nmsu.edu/2012/08/03/mexican-truckers-stage-national-protes
Fed up with deepening economic and security problems, Mexican truckers conducted convoy protests that brought traffic to a crawl on some of the nation’s highways in early August. Thousands of independent truckers affiliated with the Mexican Alliance of Transporter Organizations (AMOTAC) participated in actions in at least 12 states.
Frustrated by earlier negotiations with federal officials, the truckers demanded a halt to the monthly price increases of diesel fuel, an end to extra-weight hauling by bigger competitors, the return of trucks confiscated by tax authorities, financial support for the small trucking sector, and a transfer of the highway division of the Federal Police from the Federal Secretariat of Public Safety to the Secretariat of Communications and Transportation (SCT). They also objected to expensive highway tolls, taxes and a host of other current policies.
“The (authorities) do not want to address the demands of the sector,” charged Lauro Rincon Hernandez, an AMOTAC regional coordinator in the state of Veracruz. “The July 31 meeting was not fruitful. That’s why we decided to do this protest, and because we’ve had enough of the abuse.”
However, a full-scale mobilization to Mexico City of truckers was called off while in progress when AMOTAC and the Calderon administration reportedly reached an agreement on at least some of the outstanding issues.
Protestor Carlos Martinez said truckers were in a financial squeeze. As an example, Martinez said the independent long-distance haulers might make a 20 percent profit from a shipment, but that any earnings are eaten up by vehicle repairs and other maintenance costs.
Deteriorating security conditions responsible for the deaths of “hundreds of Mexicans” on the country’s highways contributed to the call for a national protest, AMOTAC said in a statement preceding the August 1 protests. The group repeated accusations that the Federal Police was responsible for the widespread extortion of independent truckers. The AMOTAC statement continued:
“We cannot allow these kinds of abuses to continue that will always be against the weakest, the least protected and the smallest, like the truckers, like the small businessman. We are the creators of thousands of jobs, the creators of wealth. We contribute to our country, and we are the vertebral column of our Mexico. We are the blood that the runs through the veins of Mexico.
We will not allow ourselves to be discriminated against and humiliated by our authorities like the SCT, which does not live up to its word to set up negotiating sessions, and the Federal Police, which is repressive and doesn’t resolve anything. We are Mexicans who have a right to dignified work and dignified treatment, as our Constitution establishes.”
Last December AMOTAC met with Federal Police officials, including Commissioner Facundo Rosas and General Coordinator Luis Cardenas Palomino, to discuss truckers’ grievances. At the meeting, AMOTAC leaders denounced Federal Police practices of charging “passage rights” to truckers in Aguascalientes and Jalisco, in a manner similar to organized criminal groups. Yet months later, complaints against the Federal Police still reverberate in the trucking community.
The Federal Police had no immediate comment on the August 1 protest.
Issuing a 7-point communiqué, the SCT contended that federal authorities had either complied with earlier AMOTAC demands such as reducing the allowable weights of truck loads or was simply enforcing existing regulations while reviewing others.
“Since the requests of AMOTAC are being addressed, demonstrations that affect third parties and are outside the law are considered unnecessary,” the federal agency said. “The SCT reiterates its commitment to having a regulation that strengthens the security and competitiveness of the trucking industry and its competitors.”
El Diario de Xalapa, August 2, 2012. El Universal, August 1 and 2, 2012. Articles by Edgar Avila Perez, Juan Jose Arreola, Notimex, and editorial staff. El Diario de Juarez, August 1, 2012.
Published: August 3, 2012 • Updated: August 5, 2012
Labor Statistics and Scholarship Opportunity
UFCW Canada Migrant Workers Scholarships
In 2010, UFCW Canada created this program to provide financial assistance to migrant workers’ children in sending countries, as a means to pursue their studies, and to fulfill the dreams that began when their fathers or mothers made the decision to migrate to Canada in order to improve their families’ lives. Since then UFCW Canada has helped 25 extraordinary recipients, ranging from four to 25 years of age. Applications due December, 2012 For more information see http://www.ufcw.ca/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=2058&Itemid=278&lang=en
Employment up in Informal Sector in Mexico City
According to INEGI, 30% of the labor force in Mexico City is now employed in the informal sector http://eleconomista.com.mx/distrito-federal/2012/07/16/labora-30-capitalinos-informalidad
Democracia y Libertad Sindical
Volume 27 of Democracia y Libertad Sindical is now available on line in Spanish at: http://www.democraciaylibertadsindical.org.mx/index.php?option=com_flippingbook&view=book&id=25:boletin-ccpp-27&catid=1:default-category
Caravan for Peace Update
The Caravan for Peace Begins a Long Ride Across the USA By Fred Rosen,
North American Congress on Latin America - NACLA, August 20, 2012
Global Workers Report Visa Abuse
Article 28 of the Federal Labor Act in Mexico: Does it protect Mexicans? Report by Global Workers Defender Network in the states of Oaxaca and Guerrero found that Mexican agricultural workers have paid anywhere from $1,000 up to $4,800 pesos to get an H-2A visa, a visa which in legal terms has no price. According to other sources, we know that this happens in a larger number of states and in higher dollar amounts. http://www.globalworkers.org/our-work/publications/Art28?utm_source=LIVE+STREAMING+NOW%3A+Global+Workers%27+press+conference+and+report+release&utm_campaign=Art+28+LIVE&utm_medium=email
Mexican Supreme Court Strikes Down Military Trials
August 22, 2012
In a far-reaching decision, Mexico’s Supreme Court has struck down as unconstitutional a section of the Military Code of Justice that kept trials of soldiers accused of crimes against civilians confined within the armed forces. Delivered on Monday, August 20, the 8-2 ruling came in the case of Bonfilio Rubio Villegas, an indigenous man killed at an army checkpoint in Huamuxtitlan, Guerrero, in 2009.
Excellon Blockade: Mexico Conflict Highlights Shortcomings of Canadian Mining Oversight
Excellon Blockade: Mexico Conflict Highlights Shortcomings Of Canadian Mining Oversight Posted Huff Post: 08/28/2012 6:14 am
La hora cero de #YoSoy132
Luis Hernández Navarro: La hora cero de #YoSoy132, La Jornada, Martes 28 de agosto de 2012