UE General President Peter Knowlton sent the following letter today to the president of the Mexican Senate, Ernesto Cordero, asking him to withdraw a bill that would make it harder for Mexican workers to organize independent trade unions. Improving wages and labor standards of Mexican workers is crucial to a North American Free Trade Agreement that improves the lives of working people in the U.S., Canada and Mexico.
Dear Senator Cordero:
On behalf of the members of the United Electrical, Radio and Machine Workers of America (UE), I write to express our union’s serious concerns about the bill introduced in the Mexican Senate on March 22 that would undermine the 2017 constitutional reforms on labor. We join with many other international organizations in condemning this legislation. It fails to uphold both workers’ rights and international agreements. The bill is out of compliance with existing commitments under the North American Agreement on Labor Cooperation and risks undermining the ongoing negotiation of a new North American trade deal. I urge you to ensure that this harmful bill does not pass, and that any future legislation enacting the Constitutional reforms is consistent with International Labor Organization standards, Mexico’s current commitments under its Constitution, and with its trade agreements.
The bill that is being rushed through without democratic input or proper consultation fails to address the entrenched structural issues in Mexico’s labor justice system that were at the core of Mexico’s constitutional reforms. As currently presented, the labor legislation will only cement the illegitimate and illegal practice of protection contracts, allowing corporations to profit from the exploitation of workers. The bill establishes egregious barriers to prevent workers from organizing democratic, independent unions and negotiating fair wages and adequate living conditions. It undermines the constitutional commitment to a free and secret vote to approve collective bargaining agreements, and it removes transparency requirements that would allow workers to access information about the organizations that allege to represent them. It maintains the grip employers and protection unions have on the labor justice system and undermines the rule of law.
We call on you to exercise leadership in the Mexican Senate and stop this harmful labor law. We encourage you to open a process of broad consultation and dialogue with independent labor unions, experts, and stakeholders to develop legislation that is true to the Constitutional reforms and allows Mexican workers to exercise their fundamental labor rights to freely associate and bargain collectively for better working conditions.