Johnson Controls’ victory in Mexico

After three days of strike and local and international solidarity action, workers at a Johnson Controls plant (Resurrection) in Puebla, Mexico won recognition of freedom of association and agreement on an improved profit-sharing payment.

On May 25, 342 workers at the plant, which produces interior components for BMW and Ford, signed affiliation cards for the National Union of Mine and Metal Workers.

The workers demanded that the company remove the company-controlled “protection” union (the Confederacion de Organizaciones Sindicales, or COS) and pay legally required share of profits.

The protest began after the company announced that it would pay only $5 of profits sharing.

When agreement was not reached and in the face of increasing intimidation, the workers at the plant went on strike on May 26.

Over the next three days the plant fell behind on its ability to supply key clients, including Mercedes-Benz, BMW, Chrysler, Nissan and Volkswagen.

In addition, local and international solidarity action resulted in the legal representative of Johnson Controls and the sub-secretary for labour in the state of Puebla and the president of the Puebla Labour Board requesting negotiations with the workers.

The workers’ commission, accompanied by advisers from the union, the Worker Support Center, and the Solidarity Center, negotiated an agreement which was eventually ratified by the workers.

The key points are:

• Johnson Controls will end its legal relationship with the COS union.

• The company will recognise the workers’ freedom of association in that they have chosen to be members of the National Union of Mine and Metalworkers.

Johnson Controls will provide all necessary support for the registration of the collective bargaining agreement.

• The company will take no legal action against the workers because of the work stoppage.

• There will be no reprisals against workers who participated in the movement.

• The company will pay 100 per cent of lost time.

• Workers will receive a $100 bonus on May

31, when they return to work.

• The worker representatives will not make untrue allegations about labour conditions to the company in Mexico and the US. about labour situations that not true

• The company will offer employment to all current employees of the sub-contractor, OneDigit.

Throughout the dispute, additional pressure was applied by the International Metalworkers Federation and its affiliates, who contacted the Johnson Controls headquarters in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA, jamming their switchboard in support of the workers in Mexico and demanding that the company respect freedom of association at the plant.

Through this combined action the workers have secure representation by the union of their choice, which will be able to take over the collective bargaining agreement on behalf of the workers.

In addition the agreement includes the incorporation of about 80 sub-contracting workers into the union’s bargaining unit.

The IMF will continue to work with the workers at this plant, and at another Johnson Controls plant in Puebla, to ensure freedom of association is respected there.


Numsa News No 2, July 2010