Fresh GM union vote in Mexico headed for delay – sources

Logo of GM atop the company headquarters

By Daina Beth Solomon and David Shepardson

MEXICO CITY (Reuters) – A key workers’ vote at a General Motors Co plant in Mexico that has drawn scrutiny from the Biden administration over alleged rights violations is slated to be delayed past a deadline set by Mexican authorities.

The date for the contract ratification vote in the central city of Silao will likely be announced this week, two people familiar with the matter said.

Mexico’s labor ministry scrapped an initial union-led vote in April, citing “serious irregularities” in the process, and later ordered the GM union to hold a new ballot within 30 days of its May 11 statement on the veto.

As unions must announce such votes ten days in advance, the re-do will be delayed beyond the end of that period.

GM declined to comment. The company has previously said it would cooperate with both U.S. and Mexican governments, and that it condemned labor rights violations.

The office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) last month asked Mexico to review potential labor abuses at GM’s Silao plant under the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA), the free trade deal that replaced NAFTA.

The USTR voiced concerns that workers had potentially been denied collective bargaining rights in the April vote, which Mexican authorities halted half-way through the process.

USTR Katherine Tai last week touted the GM complaint as the first time the United States had “proactively enforced” a trade deal’s labor rules, part of an effort to “encourage a race to the top with higher standards and real, rapid enforcement”.

The contract ratification vote is required under Mexico’s 2019 labor reform, which underpins provisions in the USMCA, to ensure workers are not bound to contracts signed behind their backs.

The original vote was led by the Miguel Trujillo Lopez union, an affiliate of the Confederation of Mexican Workers (CTM).

A labor ministry report last month showed GM workers in Silao were on track to scrap the contract negotiated by CTM.

The top CTM leader, Carlos Aceves del Olmo, met with Labor Minister Luisa Maria Alcalde in late May to discuss how to proceed with the new vote, the two sources said.

The head of the Miguel Trujillo Lopez union did not reply to requests for comment. The Labor Ministry did not immediately reply to a request for comment.

(This story corrects name of union on second reference to make it “Miguel Trujillo Lopez” instead of “Miguel Lopez Trujillo” in last paragraph)

(Reporting by Daina Beth Solomon and David Shepardson; Additional reporting by David Lawder; Editing by Jan Harvey)