MEXICO CITY (AP) — Workers at a Goodyear tire plant in Mexico voted Monday to oust an old-guard union that was accused of robbing a ballot box in a failed union election last month.
The ruse at the plant in the north central state of San Luis Potosí illustrated the uphill battle Mexican workers face to topple the old-guard unions that once kept wages low and enjoyed government protection.
The Labor Department said the employees voted 727 to 140 against renewing the labor contract of a union affiliated with the Confederation of Workers of Mexico. The vote opens the way for a new union organizing drive at the plant.
The Confederation of Mexican Workers, or CTM, functioned for decades as a wing of the former ruling Institutional Revolutionary Party, the PRI. By signing contracts behind the backs of workers, such unions long kept Mexican industrial wages at about one-eighth or less of what workers earned doing similar jobs in the United States.
The Mexican Ministry of Labor said there was fraud at the plant in April; Eyewitnesses and video cameras watched as people associated with the old guard union stole the ballot box used by workers at the Goodyear plant to vote in a previous election, the results of which were thrown out.
“It was evident that after the voting concluded, members of that union, possibly in collusion with company security guards, stole the ballot box,” the department said in a statement.
The department promised at that time to redo the elections with “exceptional” security measures “without any intervention from the union that has the contract, and with the participation of national and international observers.”
The department said observers from the international labor organization, the country’s human rights commission and independent groups monitored the new vote on Monday.
It was the latest in a series of votes to oust old-guard unions at auto and other plants across Mexico; the votes have often come only after the United States has filed complaints under the US-Mexico-Canada free trade agreement.
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