U.S. lawmakers urge GM, Mexico to safeguard worker rights ahead of union vote


By David Shepardson

WASHINGTON, Jan 28 (Reuters) - Three U.S. lawmakers on Friday urged General Motors GM.N and the Mexican government to safeguard worker rights ahead of a union vote next week of Mexican autoworkers at a pick-up truck plant in central Mexico.

Representative Earl Blumenauer, who chairs a House Ways and Means subcommittee on trade, along with Representatives Bill Pascrell and Dan Kildee raised concerns Friday about reports of worker intimidation ahead of next week’s union election at GM's Silao plant, where it builds the Silverado.

"It is imperative that GM and Mexico’s labor authority ensure that every single worker may cast a secret ballot freely and without intimidation," the lawmakers said.

GM did not immediately comment.

Last week, the United Auto Workers union pressed GM and Mexican officials to step up efforts to ensure workers can vote freely next month to choose a new union.

The election will allow some 7,000 workers at the Silao plant to choose among four new unions in line with a Mexican labor reform aimed at ensuring freedom of association, a key tenet of a new trade deal with the United States and Canada.

A vote last year on the collective contract was initially marred by irregularities including destroyed ballots, prompting the U.S. government to demand ramped-up scrutiny in a formal complaint under the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA).

Workers eventually voted to dissolve the contract, opening the door to elect a new union.

For decades, workers at companies across Mexico have often faced intimidation tied to contentious union votes and efforts to organize.

U.S. officials in September closed the GM complaint about last year's vote, but the U.S. Department of Labor and the office of the U.S. Trade Representative are still tracking the issue, a U.S. government labor committee report said last week.

(Reporting by David Shepardson)

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