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25/09/2021

Autoparts firm agrees to ensure free union vote

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The US parent company of a factory job plant in Mexico said on Tuesday that it agreed to take steps to guarantee free labour to vote during workers’ struggle to overthrow the old union. Cardone operates a Tridonex automotive parts jobs plant in Matamoros, a border city across Brownsville, Texas. 

The export job facility was the subject of a complaint filed by the union in May under the free trade agreement between the United States, Mexico and Canada (known as the USMCA). The complaint alleges that the new unions were harassed, and supporters were fired for fighting the corrupt old unions, which had maintained low wages in Mexico for decades. 

Cardone said in a statement that it would work with Mexican authorities “to ensure a personal, free, and secret vote by employees” at the Tridonex plant. 

The Philadelphia-based company pledged to inform “employees of their rights to collective bargaining and freedom of association and an absence of retaliation or discrimination if they exercise those rights.” It also said it would offer all employees a copy of the current labour job contract, something old-line unions in Mexico frequently don’t permit workers to see. Cardone said it would also deliver some extra compensation for some fired employees. 

The independent union trying to organize the plant said it had not been consulted about the agreement. The outside organizer of that union, lawyer Susana Prieto, said, “We do not approve of the agreement.” “The United States has reached an agreement with Tridonex without taking into account the working class, violating its rights,” Prieto said.  But she also said of the agreement: “We won. The first (labour) complaint is taking effect.” 

The USMCA includes more worker guarantees than the previous trade pact, NAFTA. The USMCA establishes a commission to assess whether Mexico complies with labour regulations that allow workers to choose their union and vote on contracts and union leadership. Sanctions could be imposed if Mexico is not following its rules, including prohibiting certain products from entering the United States. 

Cardone said that under its agreement with the U.S. government, it “admits no fault or liability concerning the matters raised in the petition and does not believe that a denial of workers’ rights has occurred at the facility.” 

Earlier this month, supporters of the independent union said that they were harassed by old-guard union representatives while distributing leaflets. The women distributing the pamphlets stated state police stood by and may have prevented them from disseminating information outside the Tridonex plant beginning in late July. 

For decades, corrupt Mexican unions often signed low-wage “protection contracts” before factories started. Union voting is conducted by raising hands, or not at all. Workers in many factories in Mexico did not know they had a union until they saw that their dues were deducted from their wages. 

Mexican workers’ wages for similar jobs in the United States are about 15% of their wages. As part of USMCA approval. Mexico has passed labour law reforms, indicating that all unions will vote by secret ballot, and workers in all Mexican factories can vote to retain the current union. 

Source: US News

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