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Johnson Controls Workers Win Collective Bargaining Agreement!
Johnson Controls, Inc. (JCI) workers at the Interiors/Resurrection Plant in Puebla, Mexico have won a new collective bargaining agreement after a protracted struggle in which they faced down violent intimidation, threw out a protection contract union, and joined the Mexican Mineworkers Union. It marks the first democratic agreement for members of the Mineworkers Section 308, which represents 800 workers, more than half of whom are women. It is also the first JCI contract in Mexico with an independent democratic union. JCI has approximately 30 factories in the country.
Among other gains, the April agreement resulted in a 4.9% wage increase in addition to a 2.6% direct payment for each worker, supplementary school aid, an additional day of bereavement leave, and increases in life insurance benefits for natural and work-related deaths. The agreement also ensures stable employment and, most importantly, a democratic union capable of supporting its members. In the past, a company-backed “yellow union,” also known in Mexico as a protection contract union, theoretically represented workers, but most workers did not know that it existed and had never seen their contract or participated in electing its leadership.
The collective bargaining agreement comes after a struggle that erupted in May 2010 when workers at the Johnson Controls, Inc. (JCI) Interiors plant went on a three-day strike, during which time they had to fend off thugs. In August 2010, following another round of violent intimidation, the company agreed to recognize the Mineworkers Union as the workers’ representation, sign a collective bargaining agreement, and reinstate workers who had been fired.
The collective bargaining agreement was signed on April 8, 2011 after months of delay and violent intimidation directed at the Centro de Apoyo al Trabajador (CAT), the Mexican NGO that has been supporting JCI workers in Puebla. International support for the JCI workers was led in part by USLEAP in the U.S., the Maquila Solidarity Network in Canada, and U.S. and international unions, including the AFL-CIO’s Solidarity Center, the United Auto Workers, the United Steelworkers, Canadian Autoworkers, and the International Metalworkers Federation.
The Mexican Mineworkers’ Union is also celebrating the achievement of Napoleón Gómez Urrutia, the Mineworker General Secretary who is currently living in exile in Canada, who received the prestigious Meany-Kirkland Human Rights Award on April 18. The award, granted by the AFL-CIO, recognizes the work of a labor leader who courageously fights to improve working conditions in his or her country. Gómez, elected as General Secretary to the Mineworkers in 2002, was forced to seek exile in Canada in 2006 when the Mexican government accused him and other labor leaders of sedition in response to a mine explosion that killed 65 workers. Nevertheless, Gómez was reelected to his post and continues to lead the union from abroad.
USLEAP congratulates Napoleón Gómez Urrutia, the Mexican Mineworkers Union, the CAT, and the workers at the Interiors plant on their important victory.
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