Workers at the GM Silao Assembly plant in Mexico have voted in the independent SINTTIA union, ousting Mexico’s largest labor organization, which had represented employees at the facility for more than 25 years.
Employees at the GM Silao plant previously voted to oust the Confederation of Mexican Workers (also known as the Miguel Trujillo Lopez union) last year over poor working conditions and low pay, among other issues. This set the stage for workers to vote in a new union this week, with the independent SINTTIA union winning 78 percent of the vote.
One GM Silao plant worker, Jesus Barroso, told Reuters he voted for the SINTTIA union as he was tired of receiving a pay of just $23.27 per day (430 pesos) despite working at the plant for more than 11 years.
“We’re fed up. Being fed up is what’s making us take this decision,” the worker explained. “I think we have the right to give our families, our kids, a better quality of life.”
In a statement, GM said it planned to work with SINTTIA to negotiate a new contract with the GM Silao workforce.
“General Motors recognizes and appreciates the active participation of employees,” the automaker said in a statement sent to Reuters this week.
The United Auto Workers (UAW) union previously called on GM and Mexican labor authorities to ensure the GM Silao union vote went ahead in a fair and democratic fashion. U.S. lawmakers also expressed concern over the legitimacy of the coming election and the safety of opposition union leaders.
Silao plant workers voted to implement a new contract with the Confederation of Mexican Workers last year, but Mexican authorities later discovered serious irregularities in the voting process, including discarded ballots. Similarly, SINTTIA leaders received threats in the lead up to this week’s vote, which was overseen by more than 100 labor officials and was also being watched closely by officials from the U.S. government.
The Confederation of Mexican Workers, which has represented workers at GM Silao Assembly since 1995, received less than five percent of the vote in this week’s election.