On August 16, 2010, thugs entered a plant owned by Johnson Controls in Puebla, Mexico, and assaulted them, according to reports, "with sticks and stones, leaving many injured." Two of the members of the Executive Committee of the newly formed union at the plant, Cándido Barreucos and Vigilio Melendez, were beaten in a company office and forced to sign letters of resignation, reportedly at gunpoint. They are currently in a hospital with severe injuries.
The union, affiliated to the Mexico's national Mineworkers union, was recognized by Milwaukee-based Johnson Controls on May 29, 2010 after a three day strike by the workers at the company's Interiors plant, also known as Resurrection. The Mineworkers believe that the assailants are members of the COS, the company union that was ejected after the strike. Under the agreement ending the strike, Johnson Controls agreed to recognize the Mineworkers as the workers' union representative and promised to take no reprisals against the strikers.
Just a few days before the August 16 attack, the local NGO supporting workers organizing at Johnson Control plants in Puebla issued an alert in response to threats against their members. The Centro de Apoyo al Trabajador (CAT), a worker center in Puebla, reported that on August 9 Enrique Morales, Coral Juarez and Maria Luis Rosina were threatened by four men who surrounded them in an isolated area while on their way to visit Johnson Controls workers to inform them of their human and labor rights. One man made a specific threat against CAT director Blanca Velasquez, saying she should stop messing with the CROM, the company union at a second Johnson Controls plant in Puebla called FINSA where workers have also tried to organize an independent union. The CROM and COS at Johnson Controls plants are examples of protection contract unions rampant throughout Mexico, used by companies to keep out independent unions, too often with violent intimidation.
The UAW and Steelworkers issued a joint letter on August 18, 2010 condemning the attacks.
USLEAP accompanied Ms. Velasquez in June 2010 when she was in the US on a tour with Johnson Controls union workers to highlight their struggle and seek, unsuccessfully, a meeting with company executives in Milwaukee, WI.
NOTE: THE ACTION BELOW IS NO LONGER NEEDED:
Contact Mexican authorities and Johnson Controls.
(1) Urge the Mexican government to ensure the safety of workers organizing independent unions at Johnson Controls plants in Puebla as well as the safety of members of the NGO supporting these workers (the CAT) and demand that those responsible for violence and intimidation be brought to justice. Also urge the Mexican government to recgonize the Mineros as the authentic representative of the workers at Johnson Controls Interiors plant in Puebla.
(2) Urge Johnson Controls to respect the basic rights of its workers, remove the protection union COS at its Interiors/Resurrection plant, reinstate Cándido Barreucos and Vigilio Melendez whose resignations were coerced, guarantee the security of all of its employees, and honor the agreement it signed on May 29, 2010.