Written by: Gonzalo Salvador
“As long as Mexican workers don’t have rights, workers in America are under threat.”
With these words Napoleón Gómez Urrutia, president of the Mexican mine and metalworkers’ union Los Mineros, addressed the AFL-CIO Executive Council at its meeting in Atlanta on Feb. 25.
AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka welcomed Gómez, who received the AFL-CIO’s Meany–Kirkland Human Rights Award in 2011 but could not attend the ceremony because of criminal charges filed against him by the Mexican government.
“Today, with the support of the Steelworkers, the AFL-CIO and the global labor movement, Napoleon has defeated the false charges against him and he is here with us,” Trumka said. “This is a great victory for democratic unionism and international solidarity.”
In his remarks, Gómez argued that low wages and repression of workers in Mexico hurt U.S. workers by reducing exports to Mexico and creating unfair incentives to relocate plants from the United States.
“Workers in the U.S. and Mexico have to fight together, even harder, for justice and against inequality,” he argued.
While the Los Mineros union has doubled the real wages of its members in the past decade, most Mexican workers face repression when they try to join democratic unions.
“That’s why we must work together to stop the [Trans-Pacific Partnership] and demand real labor reforms in both of our countries” Gómez said.