U.S. NAO Public Submission 940001
Table of Contents
The International Brotherhood of Teamsters (IBT) files this complaint with the United States National Administrative Office (U.S. NAO), pursuant to provisions of the North American Agreement on Labor Cooperation (NAALC).
At various times in late November 1993, Honeywell, Inc., a U.S. company doing business in Mexico, fired 21 production workers for seeking to form an independent and free trade union at Honeywell's "Mexican Export Factory" (MEF) plant in Chihuahua, Mexico.
The IBT asks the U.S. NAO to hold public hearings with respect to these firings, pursuant to Article 16 of the NAALC. The IBT also seeks further relief as set out below.
Honeywell, Inc. engages in the manufacture of electronics equipment, including thermostats, circuit boards, and heating and air purifier switches.
Honeywell is a major U.S. company, with headquarters in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Honeywell has a plant ("MEF") in the city of Chihuahua, in the state of Chihuahua, which makes thermostats, parts for circuit boards, and heating and air purifier switches.
The Honeywell plant in Chihuahua employs approximately 480 production workers.
Until recently Honeywell has paid these workers the minimum Mexican wage of approximately 15 pesos a day in wages, and employees typically have earned $45 a week or less in wages and bonuses.
These depressed wages are exceptional even in the maquiladora area. To maintain them, Honeywell has used illegal threats and firings to keep its employees from joining a union.
Meanwhile, Honeywell has shifted work steadily from Minnesota and other states to Mexico. Such a shift has been harmful to IBT Local 1145, which has over 3000 members employed by Honeywell in Minnesota.
Recently, in late November 1993, and just days after ratification of the NAFTA treaty, Honeywell fired approximately 20 production workers, all or nearly all of whom supported joining an independent union.
Prior to being fired, all or nearly all of, these workers had expressed interest in joining the STIMAHCS, a union that is part of the Authentic Labor Front (F.A.T), Mexico's independent labor federation. The F.A.T. is not one of the union collectives sponsored by, affiliated with or dominated by the Mexican government.
On November 12, 1993, a union officer of STIMAHCS held an organizing meeting in Chihuahua with twelve Honeywell workers. The union officer ..... met with the twelve women in a meeting that was private, and not open to the public.
Independent unions like those in F.A.T are not able to hold such open meetings, or have an open presence in a plant like Honeywell's, because such employers would quickly fire any employee who attended.
One of the twelve women who met with ..... She was the leading woman supporter of F.A.T. at the Honeywell plant. She was the last employee to be fired.
The two Honeywell officials who handled her firing were ..... the personnel director, and ....., the superintendent.
The IBT expects soon to submit an affidavit from ..... The affidavit will show that the Honeywell officials kept ..... in an office for several hours. She was told that if she gave the names of other pro-union employees, Honeywell would give her financial assistance. She was told that Honeywell would close its Mexican plant before it would permit a union like STIMAHCS.
The fired women were told that they must sign resignation forms, to collect their severance pay, and waive their claims against Honeywell. Rather than lose this severance pay, many of the women signed the forms.
..... has continued to press charges. Her charge is now pending before the Mexican Mediation and Conciliation Board. Such labor boards have a reputation for refusing to reinstate workers like ..... when fired for supporting an independent union like F.A.T.
In December 1993, the Honeywell chairman, Michael Bonsignore, claimed to the press that ..... and others were laid off as a result of a "downsizing" and transfer of work.
In fact, the alleged transfer of work occurred much later, and related to only one of the divisions.
Furthermore, and more important, ..... and others were told they were being fired for their support of F.A.T.
Honeywell supervisors told ..... and other employees, directly, that they were being fired for their union activities.
Honeywell is part of a maquiladora employers' association, which uses spying, electronic surveillance, locked-door interrogations, threats, and firings to keep out independent union groups like F.A.T.
Since the firings, Honeywell has increased its own electronic surveillance of its employees in Chihuahua.
Furthermore, Honeywell normally hires additional employees when employees fail to return after Christmas break. This year, however, Honeywell has not hired such additional employees, to avoid hiring the approximately 20 fired production workers.
By the aforesaid abusive interrogations and by firing workers without cause, Honeywell has violated Article 123 of the Mexican Constitution.
By the same aforesaid acts, Honeywell has violated the Labor Principles contained in Annex One of the NAALC. This section provides a guarantee of the right to join unions.
By pressuring workers to accept statutory severance pay and relinquishing claims for reinstatement, Honeywell has further violated Section 123 of the Mexican Constitution and the Labor Principles contained in Annex One of the NAALC.
Furthermore, such an open and flagrant violation of basic labor norms should be presumed to have a chilling effect on the labor rights of U.S.-based employees of Honeywell, including the 3000 members of IBT Local 1145, and caused them significant economic harm.
The IBT requests the following relief:
Earl V. Brown, Jr.