Friday, June 04, 2010


The struggle for independent real unions in Mexico has been a long and difficult one, pitting workers against not just "yellow dog" unions but also, bosses and the corrupt political class of the state. Here's a story about a recent victory in this struggle from the Maquila Solidarity Network.

Johnson Controls Interiors workers win independent union
June 3, 2010

A three-day strike by workers at a Johnson Controls auto parts plant in Puebla, Mexico, backed by an international solidarity campaign, has won the workers the right to be represented by a union of their free choice.

The Johnson Controls Interiors plant employs about 450 workers and produces seats and seat parts for major auto companies, including Ford and Mercedes-Benz.

On May 29, representatives of the striking workers and the company signed an agreement that recognizes the workers' decision to be represented by the National Union of Mine and Metal Workers (SNTMMSSRM or Los Mineros).

A company-controlled "protection union" linked to the Puebla State PRI government has held title to the collective agreement at the factory, but the workers have never received a copy of that agreement nor been consulted about whether they want to be represented by that union.

Precedent-setting agreement
The agreement sets an important precedent in Mexico where employers often sign "protection contracts" with corrupt unions without the workers' knowledge and/or consent in order to prevent those workers from organizing or affiliating with a democratic union.

In addition to recognizing Los Mineros as the workers' union, the agreement also includes the following provisions:

•No reprisals against the workers for participating in the movement;
•No legal action against those who participated in the strike;
•Payment of full wages for time lost do to the strike;
•An annual profit-sharing payment of US$100 per worker (20 times the $5 originally offered by the company); and
•Direct employment and union membership for all workers currently employed through a third-party employment agency.
In Mexico, the workers have received support from the Puebla-based Worker Support Centre (CAT), the Mexico office of the AFL-CIO Solidarity Center, and the Project for Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ProDESC). Organizations mobilizing international solidarity included USW, CAW, UAW, USLEAP, the International Metalworkers Federation (IMF), and MSN.

Dispute at FINSA plant continues
Meanwhile, the lengthy dispute continues at the company's FINSA plant, also in Puebla, where workers are attempting to rid themselves of another "protection union."

The workers at that factory have formed a Temporary Coalition of Workers in order to negotiate with the company. To date, Johnson Controls has refused to recognize or negotiate with the Coalition, and has fired many of its leaders.

On April 28, two members of the CAT team supporting the workers, Enrique Morales MontaƱo and Coral Juarez Melo, were visiting Johnson Controls employee in the community of Santo Toribio, Tlaxcala when Enrique was physically assaulted by the 17 year old son of Magdaleno Texis, a local leader of the CROM, the corrupt union that signed a "protection contract" with management at the FINSA factory.

Building international solidarity
FINSA workers are currently touring the United States, seeking solidarity with their struggle to be represented by an independent union.

MSN is joining with counterpart organizations in Mexico and internationally in calling on the company to meet with the Coalition of Johnson Controls Workers, reinstate workers who have been unjustly fired for supporting an independent union, and respect the workers' right to be represented by a union of their free choice.

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