Panasonic Workers Win Prolonged Battle for Labor Rights

Published on September 13, 2023

A union of workers at Panasonic Automotive Systems in the city of Reynosa, Mexico, achieved a contract with significant gains, including a wage increase that exceeded inflation rates and the reinstatement of workers fired for their union involvement. 

The Sindicato Nacional Independiente de Trabajadores de Industrias y de Servicios (SNITIS), an independent union that emerged as a response to the disappointment with conventional labor organizations in the state of Tamaulipas, in February of 2022, received an overwhelming amount of votes in their favor to represent workers in negotiations with Panasonic Automotive Systems. 

However, soon after the election, Panasonic refused to cooperate with SNITIS. Panasonic undermined the workers’ right to choose their union freely, hindered the negotiation process for a fair labor contract, and decreased paychecks to pay the unelected union, Confederación de Trabajadores Mexicanos (CTM).

After the clear labor rights violations, SNITIS utilized the Rapid Response Mechanism of the U.S. Mexico Canada Agreement (USMCA) to file a complaint against Panasonic. 

The U.S Trade Representative Katherine Tai and the Mexican Labor Ministry worked to conduct an investigation into the factory’s labor practices that were violating labor standards outlined in the USMCA. 

Subsequently, Panasonic reached an agreement with the workers’ elected union, SNITIS, that resulted in a 9.5 percent salary increase for the workers, which was above the annual inflation rate in Mexico of nearly 8.0 percent.

Additionally, the company reimbursed workers for dues to the CTM union deducted from their paychecks and hired back 19 workers who had been dismissed in retaliation for backing SNITIS. 

by Ashley Rosas Rosales