Mexico: The Time Is Yet to Come: A New Labor Justice Era in Mexico

Note published on june 6, on ABA, section News by José María Galindo.

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In May 2019, an important labor reform was made public in Mexico. This reform to the Mexican legal system encompassed:

  • Replacement of Labor Boards by Labor Courts, dependent on the Judicial Branch;
  • Creation of a public federal center with conciliatory and registry functions, with similar local centers with conciliatory functions;
  • Personal, free, direct and secret vote for the election of union representatives;
  • Creation of procedures to guarantee the freedom of collective bargaining, assuring the representativeness of unions, the certainty in the execution and registry of agreements; and
  • Obligation of unions to ratify all existing collective bargaining agreements (CBAs).

For each specific reform a date was set to finalize implementation. Importantly, Section 23-A of the United States, Mexico and Canada Agreement (USMCA) established the obligation of all unions to ratify before May 1, 2023, by direct, personal, secret and free vote of all the workers, all existing collective bargaining agreements.

This deadline is about to arrive, and recently the Labor Authority made public a resolution stating that the unions have until May 1, 2023, to register their ratification process, which must be executed before July 31, 2023. This resolution was grounded on the number of CBAs that have been ratified. According to the public information of the labor authority, there are 139,000 existing CBAs as of March 2023, and only 13,468 of them have been ratified.

Only 9.6% of the existing CBAs, have been ratified up to now. It will be impossible for the unions to fulfill the obligation to ratify the 100% of the existing CBA. As a result, a new labor era will begin. As mentioned before, the importance of the creation of procedures to guarantee the freedom of collective bargaining and freedom of association will be relevant.

The consequence of not ratifying the existing CBAs is the termination of the CBAs, giving to interested unions the opportunity to request the representativeness certificate, or even a union free environment could be possible in Mexico.

We can conclude that a new Mexican labor era will begin after the expiration date for the ratification of the CBAs, several requests to obtain the representativeness certificate will be filled before the labor authority and possibly a lot of voting processes to determine which union represents the majority of the workers, will be executed.

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