Citlalli Chávez-Nava | February 3, 2022
UCLA Labor Center researcher Kendy Rivera Cárdenas 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 (GM) workers elected the newly established, Independent Union of Auto Industry Workers, known by its initials SINTTIA in Spanish. Supported by labor activists globally, SINTTIA is committed to improving wages and work conditions at the plant.
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 (USMCA).
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.”