Unions Denounce President Felipe Calderon’s Repression of Workers Rights
Workers from the United Steelworkers (USW) gathered in front of the Mexican Embassy at 1911 Pennsylvania Ave., NW on May 19 to protest Mexican President Felipe Calderon’s visit to Washington and, to condemn his government’s repression of democratic labor unions in Mexico. .
The USW and the AFL-CIO have denounced the Mexican government’s four-year long campaign to destroy the independent mineworkers’ union known as Los Mineros. Members of Los Mineros have been on strike since July 2007 at the Cananea mine in Northern Mexico over health and safety and other contract violations.
Grupo Mexico, the mining giant which operates Cananea, and the Mexican government have continuously tried to end the strike and crush the union.
USW President Leo W. Gerard states: “We call on the Mexican Government to withdraw its threat to use military force to dislodge the strikers and to negotiate with the Los Mineros to peacefully resolve this conflict."
Mexico has threatened and jailed union leaders, illegally frozen union bank accounts and failed to investigate or prosecute assassinations of union members. On February 11, a federal court gave Grupo Mexico permission to fire the striking workers and terminate the labor agreement. The government has threatened to use armed force to gain control of Cananea.
The Los Mineros strikers are resolved to continue occupying the mine until a fair labor agreement is reached. Los Mineros is one of the strongest and most democratic trade unions in Mexico. In a recent statement, The AFL-CIO Executive Council said: “We call on the Obama administration and Congressional leadership to take immediate and decisive steps to hold the Mexican government accountable for its systematic violations of fundamental worker rights and its effort to dismantle independent unions. We also request our Government to urge the Mexican authorities to peacefully resolve the situation in Cananea and to completely refrain from the use of military or police force.”