Mexico Table of Contents
Labor unions are mostly representative of workers in urban areas. Most labor unions are affiliated with the PRI through the Confederation of Mexican Workers (Confederación de Trabajadores Mexicanos--CTM), which is associated with some independent unions and federations in an umbrella organization known as the Congress of Labor (Congreso del Trabajo--CT). During August 1991, the CT confirmed its direct relationship with the government party in a document called the Political Agreement Between the PRI and the Organization of the CT.
The CT, considered the labor sector of the PRI, consists of more than thirty organizations encompassing 85 percent of the unionized workforce. In the early 1990s, Mexico had an estimated 9.5 million unionized workers. The CT mediates between the labor unions and the government. At the same time, it provides the state with a formal mechanism for political manipulation of the labor force.
The CTM is the largest and most influential organization in the CT, comprising over 11,000 labor unions with more than 5 million union members. It is considered the spearhead of the Mexican labor movement. Since 1941 the CTM has been tightly controlled by its secretary general, Fidel Velázquez, considered one of the most influential political figures in Mexico.
The second organization within the CT is the Federation of Unions of Workers in the Service of the State (Federación de Sindicatos de Trabajadores al Servicio del Estado--FSTSE). The FSTSE was established in 1938 as an umbrella organization for labor unions within the federal civil system and other government-related organizations. In 1990 the FSTSE consisted of eighty-nine unions with a total membership of 1.8 million employees.
The Revolutionary Confederation of Workers and Peasants (Confederación Revolucionaria de Obreros y Campesinos--CROC) is the third largest labor organization within the CT. The CROC was established in 1952; since 1980, it has been under the leadership of Alberto Juárez Blancas. During the 1990s, the CROC had an estimated membership of some 600,000. Other important labor organizations are the Regional Confederation of Mexican Workers (Confederación Regional de Obreros Mexicanos--CROM), the National Federation of Independent Unions (Federación Nacional de Sindicatos Independientes--FNSI), the Confederation of Workers and Peasants (Confederación de Trabajadores y Campesinos--CTC), the International Proletarian Movement (Movimiento Proletario Internacional--MPI), the Confederation of Revolutionary Workers (Confederación de Obreros Revolucionarios--COR), the General Confederation of Workers (Confederación General de Trabajadores--CGT), the Authentic Labor Front (Frente Auténtico del Trabajo--FAT), and the Revolutionary Confederation of Workers (Confederación Revolucionaria de Trabajadores--CRT). There are, in addition, some 1.5 million members of independent unions and company labor organizations.
In theory, labor-management relations are well defined by the Labor Code, which leaves little margin for bargaining in labor disputes. All labor unions receive official recognition by applying to the Secretariat of Labor and Social Welfare. Once it is officially recognized, a union is protected by the Labor Code, which details the rights of each official organization to receive social security payments, to participate in profit sharing, and to use meeting halls, among many other benefits. The code stipulates that strikes are illegal if unauthorized by the secretariat and that workers participating in an illegal strike will be subject to government sanctions and dismissal by their employers.
Corruption, paternalism, and abuse of union funds have traditionally been rampant in the labor movement. In recent years, however, the traditional oligarchic leadership of most Mexican labor unions has been challenged by the rank and file, as well as by independent unions wishing to end the use of leadership positions to amass wealth and power. The lack of support for Salinas's presidential bid by the leadership of some powerful unions, in particular that of the union of oil workers, contributed to a change in government relations with union groups. President Salinas launched an anticorruption campaign during his first year in government, toppling from power strong labor leaders in corruption-related scandals. Although the level of corruption and abuse of power has not been substantially reduced, the political relationship and corporatist structure between the labor sector and the party are currently undergoing profound changes. There is a sharp distinction between two clashing forces in the labor movement: the traditional leadership that forcefully resists political change and a new generation that strongly supports the government's neoliberal policies currently in place. In the mid-1990s, labor groups have less impact on Mexican politics than they did in the past.
Traditionally, business interests in Mexico are driven by government policies and interests. In addition to participation of individual businessmen in politics, many business groups are represented in government agencies and commissions. There has always been a close connection between the business community and the different economic cabinets. The most influential of all business associations is the Confederation of National Chambers of Commerce (Confederación de Cámaras Nacionales de Comercio--Concanaco). The Confederation of Chambers of Industry (Confederación de Cámaras de Industria--Concamin) serves as the umbrella organization for industrial associations. There is also the National Chamber of Manufacturing Industries (Cámara Nacional de la Industria de la Transformación--Canacintra), which historically has represented small and medium-sized businesses. A sharp distinction exists between small and big business in Mexican politics. Although technically these organizations are not integrated into a particular political party, contributions of big business go first to the PRI to reward government policies that benefit big business and to make sure that such policies continue. According to PRI Finance Secretary Oscar Espinoza Villareal, the Mexican private sector contributed between 54 and 67 billion new pesos (for value of the new peso--see Glossary) to the campaigns of government party candidates for the August 1994 elections.
Business associations such as Concanaco play an active role in government policy debates. Most of the business sector currently supports the reduction of trade barriers, liberal economic policies, and conservative labor legislation. The success of the liberal policies launched during the Salinas sexenio greatly benefited the Mexican private sector. Thus, relations between the business community and the PRI improved significantly. A clear example of the improved relationship was a well-publicized gathering held in February 1993, when thirty of Mexico's multimillionaires pledged an average US$25 million each in support of the 1994 PRI election campaign. At the fund-raising dinner, television baron Emilio Azcarrago, considered the richest man in Latin America, pledged US$70 million to the government's party "in gratitude" for his prosperity during the Salinas administration. The great disparity in funding between the PRI and the opposition during the 1994 electoral race was clearly attributable to generous contributions from domestic private enterprises to the PRI.
Data as of June 1996
Mexico Table of Contents