Kendy Rivera Cárdenas, a researcher with the UCLA Labor Center, joined an international delegation of 60 independent representatives to the central city of Silao, Mexico to oversee a historic union election in which over 6,000 General Motors workers elected the newly established, Independent Union of Auto Industry Workers, known by its initials SINTTIA in Spanish.
On Feb. 1 and Feb. 2, the delegation, in partnership with the AFL-CIO’s Solidarity Center, builds upon a UCLA Labor Center initiative launched last year that promotes research, data collection and policy engagement to promote compliance of more robust labor protections enacted through the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement.
The outcome of the election represents a turning point for Mexican union workers, who despite being protected by contracts previously, continued to earn meager wages since agreements have favored corporate interests in the past.
“We’re talking about a workforce that earns the U.S. equivalent of $9 per day, so these workers barely scrape by and can’t afford to purchase the cars they assemble. So this has led to a pattern of auto manufacturing leaving the U.S. for cheaper labor in Mexico,” said Gaspar Rivera-Salgado, project director at the UCLA Labor Center and director of the UCLA Center for Mexican Studies. “This pattern is unfavorable for Mexican and U.S. workers.”