Protection Contracts in Mexico

Publication date: 
Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Factory workers in Mexico face a unique barrier to their right to freedom of association and collective bargaining through employers' widespread use of illegitimate collective bargaining agreements (commonly known as "protection contracts") signed CBA between an employer and an employer-dominated union that does not truly represent workers and their interests.  In determining the existence of protection contracts in Mexican factories, FLA assessors look for certain indicators that the union is not truly representing workers, and that there is therefore a violation of the freedom of association element of the FLA Workplace Code of Conduct. These indicators include:

1. There are no general assembly elections with worker participation;

2. Workers do not participate in meetings or in the development of agendas for meetings;

3. Workers do not receive prior notice of CBA negotiations, are not aware of who “represents” them in those negotiations, and do not have the opportunity to ratify new or revised CBAs;

4. Workers are automatically enrolled with the union upon hiring;

5. Workers are unaware of the existence of the union and the leaders that represent them;

6. The provisions of the CBA do not result in benefits to workers beyond the minimum legal requirements already in the labor code;

7. Workers are not provided with a copy of the CBA.

Find recommendations for how companies sourcing from Mexico should respond to finding protection contracts in place in their supplier factories in the FLA's complete issue brief below.  For further resources related to sourcing from Mexico, please see the Maquila Solidarity Network's Freedom of Association tool-kit and side-by-side comparison of Mexican labor law, ILO standards, and the FLA Workplace Code of Conduct.

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