For more than two and one half years, miners employed by Grupo Mexico have been on strike, shutting down Grupo Mexico’s Cananea copper mine in the northwestern state of Sonora.
Last Thursday (Feb. 11th), a Mexican appeals court ruled that Grupo Mexico can lay off the strikers.
The court rejected a request for an injunction sought by the National Mining and Metal Workers Union against a 2009 federal labor arbitration board ruling allowing the company to end the collective contract of an estimated 1,200 unionized workers at Cananea, Mexico’s largest copper mine.
Grupo Mexico last year sought to end the contract, claiming force majeure after the mine had been shut for nearly two years by strikers.
On Friday, the AFL-CIO’s president, Richard Trumka issued a statement condemning the Mexican court’s ruling, stating that “the court effectively eliminated the right to strike in Mexico.”
While the right to strike has long been a fundamental right that labor unions (inlcuding the AFL-CIO) have long cherished, union bosses in the U.S. have been pushing to take that right away from workers through the hallucinogenically-named Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA).
While much of the media’s attention surrounding EFCA has been focused on the bill’s effective elimination of workers’ right to a secret-ballot vote on whether or not to unionize, a lesser-but-equally important provision of EFCA called binding arbitration.
As written, once a company is unionized, EFCA gives the federal government the power to have a government-appointed arbitrator impose a contract on a union, the employer and, just as importantly, employees. The government-imposed contract is binding on all three parties for a period of not less than two years.
As we’ve written before:
Under the oxymoronically-named Employee Free Choice Act, once binding arbitration kicks in, if employees had been tricked into unionization (under EFCA’s no-vote unionization provision) and the government imposes its contract on the employer and employees, employees..:
1) CANNOT vote to ratify or reject the government contract
2) CANNOT modify the government contract
3) CANNOT kick the union out (for two years)
4) and, perhaps most importantly, CANNOT strike in protest.
Note: A strike is the collective withholding of labor and, if workers cannot withhold their labor, then they effectively become economic serfs.
Employees will be voiceless, powerless and left with two options: Either keep their mouths shut and accept it, or quit as individuals.
It is hypocritical for AFL-CIO boss Trumka to decry the Mexican court’s ruling, claiming that the court effectively eliminated the right to strike while he and his fellow union cohorts are attempting to do the same thing to workers in the U.S.
“I bring reason to your ears, and, in language as plain as ABC, hold up truth to your eyes.” Thomas Paine, December 23, 1776
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