Judgment against Los Mineros Abuses Democracy to Serve a Billionaire’s Vendetta

Contact: Ben Davis, 202-550-3729

The United Steelworkers (USW) today condemned the judgement issued by Mexico’s Federal Conciliation and Arbitration Board (CAB) on May 10 against the National Union of Mine, Metal, Steel and Related Workers of the Mexican Republic – “Los Mineros” and issued the following statement: 

"This charge is part of a concerted effort by Grupo Mexico and its owner, Germán Larrea (Mexico’s second-richest individual with a net wealth of over $15 billion), to prevent Napoleón Gómez, who is currently a candidate for the Mexican Senate in the July 1 elections on the ticket headed by presidential candidate Andrés Manuel López Obrador, from being elected. 

Gómez has strongly criticized the abuses of labor, human and environmental rights by Grupo Mexico and other large mining companies – including the massive spill of toxic waste from a Grupo Mexico mine in 2014 which is now being litigated in the Mexican Supreme Court. Recently López Obrador accused Larrea of leading a campaign to defeat his ticket.[1]

The judgment from the Federal CAB, ordering the union to pay $55 million allegedly owed to former employees of Grupo Mexico, repeats the unfounded accusations in the criminal charges against the union’s President and General Secretary, Napoleón Gómez Urrutia, filed by Grupo Mexico’s lawyers in eleven separate courts – all of which were dismissed.[2] We have no doubt that it too will be dismissed on appeal.

What is especially disturbing is the use of the Federal CAB, an agency whose head reports directly to the President of Mexico, as an instrument to interfere directly with the election campaigns of López Obrador and Gómez Urrutia.  The tripartite CAB system has long been criticized for corruption, and in 2017 the Mexican Constitution was amended to abolish the Federal and state CABs and establish a new system of independent labor tribunals, along with other labor reforms.  Unfortunately, the Congress failed to pass implementing legislation that would set up and fund the labor tribunals, so the CABs are still in place.

Mexico’s abuse of a state agency to serve a billionaire’s vendetta against his workers clearly demonstrates why there can be no renegotiated NAFTA without tough and enforceable labor rights, starting with the abolition of the corrupt CABs."

The USW represents 850,000 workers in North America employed in many industries that include metals, rubber, chemicals, paper, oil refining and the service and public sectors.

[1] Mexico's Presidential Frontrunner Accuses Mexican Billionaires Of Plotting To Defeat Him, Forbes, May 3, 2018

[2] Mexican Court Drops Criminal Charges Against Union Leader, Wall Street Journal, Aug. 29, 2014. 

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