On Monday, May 8th, workers at a Goodyear tire plant in San Luis Potosi voted to throw out an old-guard union that was accused of stealing a ballot box at a failed union election last month.
The skullduggery at the plant in the north-central state of San Luis Potosi illustrated the uphill battle Mexican workers face in unseating old-guard unions that once kept wages low and enjoyed government protection.
The Labor Department said employees voted 727 to 140 against renewing the labor contract held by a union affiliated with the Confederation of Mexican Workers. The vote opens the way for a new union organizing drive at the plant.
The Confederation of Mexican Workers, or CTM, for decades, functioned as a wing of the old ruling Institutional Revolutionary Party, the PRI. By signing contracts behind workers’ backs, such unions long-held Mexican industrial wages to about one-eighth or less of what workers earned doing similar jobs in the U.S.
Mexico’s Labor Department said the fraud occurred at the plant in April; eyewitnesses and video cameras saw when people associated with the old-guard union stole the ballot box used by workers at the Goodyear plant to vote in a previous election, whose results were thrown out.
“It was evident that after voting concluded, the members of that union, possibly in collusion with the company’s security guards, stole the ballot box,” the department said in a statement.
The department vowed at the time to re-do the elections with “exceptional” security measures “without any intervention by the union that holds the contract, and with the participation of domestic and international observers.”
The department said that observers from the international labor organization, the country’s human rights commission and independent groups oversaw the new vote Monday.
It was the latest in a series of votes to oust old-guard unions at automotive and other plants throughout Mexico; the votes have often come only after the United States has filed complaints under the U.S.-Mexico-Canada free trade agreement.