17 August, 2023899 Goodyear workers in the city of San Luis Potosí, Mexico, have voted to be represented by an independent union, celebrating a resounding victory after five years of struggle.
On 7 and 8 August, workers at Goodyear’s plant in Mexico held a ballot to determine which union would represent them. A total of 992 of the plant’s 1,144 workers took part in the ballot, with 899 voting for the Independent Union of Goodyear Tyre Workers (SITGM), 30 for a union affiliated with the Confederation of Mexican Workers (CTM) and 63 abstaining.
At a press conference held after the results were announced, SITGM’s Julio Cesar Flores Lopez explained that the ballot and his union's victory had been possible thanks to the workers’ struggle over the past five years.
“A group of workers initially spoke out in 2018 when they realized that Goodyear was not applying the sector-wide labour contract for the rubber manufacturing industry. Those workers were dismissed by Goodyear but then lodged a complaint with the rapid response labour mechanism under the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA), claiming that their rights had been violated,”
said Flores Lopez.
In Mexico, a sector-wide labour contract is an agreement between one or more unions and either several employers or one or more unions of employers. The agreement sets out the working conditions for a specific branch of industry.
The claims listed in the complaint included: various violations of collective rights by Goodyear for refusing to apply the most beneficial terms of the sector-wide labour contract; misinformation by the company and the CTM-affiliated union that had negotiated the previous collective bargaining agreement regarding the existence of a sector-wide contract; and failure by Goodyear to sanction those responsible for interfering in or obstructing the consultation, held in April, on approving the collective agreement.
Flores Lopez also told the press conference that the complaint had resulted in investigations by both the Mexican and US governments, which agreed on a remediation plan for Goodyear in July of this year. The union vote was part of that plan.
“The plan will benefit more than 1,140 workers and 4,000 family members. It states that Goodyear must apply either the sector-wide labour contract or any other more beneficial terms already provided. It also means shorter working hours, larger savings funds, more bonus days and more holiday bonuses, and ensures that workers will have a better quality of life with their families, because working in a tyre factory is hard.”
Finally, IndustriALL’s regional secretary Marino Vani said:
“Goodyear has behaved regrettably during this process. IndustriALL has condemned the company’s misconduct on several occasions in recent years. We now expect Goodyear to respect the rights of its workers, change its position, seek dialogue and provide better working conditions.
We congratulate the workers who decided to stand up for their rights and set up a union. They have shown that only through struggle is it possible to enforce laws. The next step will be to organize other workers in this sector.”