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Cablegate: Croc Meeting in Monterrey Mends Some Political

VZCZCXRO8101
RR RUEHCD RUEHGA RUEHGD RUEHHA RUEHHO RUEHMC RUEHNG RUEHNL RUEHQU
RUEHRD RUEHRS RUEHTM RUEHVC
DE RUEHME #1132/01 1061645
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 151645Z APR 08
FM AMEMBASSY MEXICO
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 1450
RUEHC/DEPT OF LABOR WASHINGTON DC
INFO RUCNCAN/ALL CANADIAN POSTS COLLECTIVE
RUEHXC/ALL US CONSULATES IN MEXICO COLLECTIVE
RHMFIUU/CDR USSOUTHCOM MIAMI FL
RUCPDOC/DEPT OF COMMERCE WASHINGTON DC
RUEAHLA/DEPT OF HOMELAND SECURITY
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHINGTON DC

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 04 MEXICO 001132

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

DEPT FOR DRL/AWH AND ILCSR, WHA/MEX, USDOL FOR ILAB

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: ELAB ECON PGOV SOCI PHUM PINR MX
SUBJECT: CROC MEETING IN MONTERREY MENDS SOME POLITICAL
FENCES, GIVES OVERVIEW OF LABOR MOVEMENT AND REELECTS
NATIONAL LEADER

1. Summary: On April 4-5, the CROC (Revolutionary
Confederation of Workers and Campesinos) held its 55 th
National Council Meeting in the northern Mexican industrial
city of Monterrey, Nuevo Leon. The CROC is perhaps the third
largest labor federation in the country and its Monterrey
meeting was attended by the leader of Mexico,s former ruling
party, a Senior GOM labor official, the governor of the Nuevo
Leon and representatives from the two largest labor
federations in the United States. The highlights of the
Monterrey meeting were the presence of the head of Mexico,s
former ruling party who sharply criticized the GOM,s
performance with regard to economic growth and job creation,
and the voice vote re-election of the CROC,s national
leader, Isais Gonzalez Cuevas. During his acceptance speech
Gonzalez Cuevas presented a general overview of some of the
problems facing Mexico,s organized labor such as company
controlled or &White Unions8, fake unions which exist only
on paper and disunity among the various elements of the
country,s labor movement. The CROC leader went out of his
way to highlight the cited lack of unity among labor
federations. His mention of the problem of disunity among
labor unions is interesting because he was discussing a
situation made significantly worse by some of his own
actions. End Summary.


CROC HOLDS NATIONAL MEETING IN MONTERREY
----------------------------------------

2. The CROC (Revolutionary Confederation of Workers and
Campesinos) held its 55th National Council Meeting in the
northern Mexican industrial city of Monterrey, Nuevo Leon on
April 4-5. Although the meeting was attended by delegates
from the 32 state organizations that make up this national
labor federation the star of this particular show was the
CROC,s national leader, Isais Gonzalez Cuevas. The meeting
was at times a raucous event during which the delegates and a
variety of invited participants attended round tables
discussions on a broad range of social and labor related
issues. Some of the issues discussed included topics like
global warming, combating drug addiction, domestic violence,
social security (a term used in Mexico to refer to both
health care and pension issues), economic development and
productivity, and dealing with issues of child labor.

3. The CROC is perhaps the third largest labor federation in
Mexico. In recent years the CROC has adopted a philosophy it
calls &social unionism8 which might be more accurately
described as &socially responsible unionism.8 This
philosophy holds that unions should not only concern
themselves with traditional labor issues but should also
attempt to address the topics that workers face during the 16
hours of the day when they are not at their jobs. For
example, the CROC has been particularly active in combating
the commercial sexual exploitation of children. Their
efforts in this area have, at various times, been supported
with limited funding from both USAID and the US Department of
Labor.


SPECIAL INVITEES
----------------

4. In addition to the thousands of union delegations from
across Mexico who attended the convention, the CROC event was
also attended by a number of high profile special invitees.
Among the invitees in attendance was Nuevo Leon,s Governor,
Natividad Gonzalez Paras, the ILO representative in Mexico,
an Undersecretary from the GOM,s Secretariat of Labor
(STPS), US representatives from the AFL-CIO and from the
Service Employees
International Union (SEIU), personnel from AmConsul Monterrey
and Mission Mexico,s Labor Counselor. The organizers of the
Monterrey meeting made every effort to underscore the
attendance of all the special invitees but labor the
federation appears to have made a special effort to highlight
the presence Beatriz Paredes Rangel, the national leader of
Mexico,s former ruling party, the Institutional
Revolutionary Party (PRI). The attendance Beatriz Paredes was
a significant event for the CROC; serving as clear sign that
the party and the union have agreed to put past differences
behind them.

MEXICO 00001132 002 OF 004


THE CROC MENDS POLITICAL FENCES
-------------------------------

5. In 2006, for reasons largely attributed to personal
ambition, the CROC,s national leader decided to support the
presidential candidacy of PRD (Democratic Revolutionary
Party) nominee Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador. Since the time
of its formation 1952, the CROC has been formally affiliated
with the PRI and has always supported the party,s
presidential nominees. However, just a few months before
Mexico,s July 2006 presidential election Gonzalez Cuevas
decided not to support the PRI candidate and instead chose to
endorse the PRD,s nominee. Ultimately, Gonzalez Cuevas,
decision was not enough to help the PRD win but many in the
PRI believe his actions were responsible for the PRI,s fall
from being Mexico,s opposition party to being the smaller of
its two main opposition parties.

6. Relations between the CROC and the PRI have not been the
same since July 2006. This cooling of relations between them
has been an issue the two organizations did little to
overcome until very recently. Last month, on March 4, PRI
national leader Paredes invited Gonzalez Cuevas to the
party,s 79th anniversary celebration and gave him a
prominent spot on the presidium. Gonzalez Cuevas apparently
reciprocated by inviting Paredes to the CROC,s Monterrey
meeting and allowing her to make a formal speech at the event.

7. According to press reports, while Paredes, speech
forcefully promoted issues important to Mexican organized
labor it also took numerous swipes at the GOM,s currently
ruling National Action Party (PAN). Paredes sharply
criticized Mexico,s weak economic growth under the former
and current PAN administrations. She was reminded those
present that the previous PAN administration had said it
could generate an economic growth rate of 7 percent a year
yet never came anywhere near that figure (actual average
annual grow rate was 2.3 percent). The PRI leader then
pointed out that while running for office Mexico,s current
president promised to be the &employment president8. Thus
far, Paredes underscored, Mexican workers were still waiting
to see even a fraction of the 1.3 million jobs the country
needs annually to keep up with the number of people entering
the job market.


CROC LEADER RE-ELECTED
----------------------

8. The main event at the CROC,s Monterrey meeting was the
re-election of the labor federation,s national leader Isaias
Gonzalez Cuevas. Gonzalez Cuevas, re-election nomination was
made (reluctantly it appears; see Septel) by the Secretary
General of the CROC in Nuevo Leon, Agustin Serna Sevin. Nuevo
Leon,s CROC leader called for the re-election of Gonzalez
Cuevas as the surest way to continue supporting the various
elements of the labor federation,s &social unionism8
philosophy. Serna Sevin also indicated that Gonzalez
Cuevas, continued leadership as the CROC,s national leader
would help promote unity within the labor federation.

9. Isais Gonzalez Cuevas, was re-elected for four more
years. The election itself was carried out by a &yea or
nay8 voice vote. There were no other candidates nominated
nor any opportunity for others who might have been interested
in running for the office of CROC national leader to step
forward. Gonzalez Cuevas, re-election process would not
have met even the broadest definition of what the
international community generally refers to as a free, open
and democratic union election. However, the process was a
fairly common and widely accepted method used by Mexican
labor unions which, in theory, negotiate internally when
electing or re-electing prior to the holding of a national
convention.


CROC LEADERS SAYS MEXICAN LABOR UNIONS IN CRISIS
--------------------------------------------- ---

10. According to media reports, Isaias Gonzalez Cuevas used

MEXICO 00001132 003 OF 004


his acceptance speech to present an overview on the state of
organized labor in Mexico. In this overview the CROC leader
reaffirmed what many other observers of Mexican labor have
stated before; namely that Mexico,s labor movement is in a
state of crisis. Gonzalez Cuevas firmly rejected exaggerated
suggestions that organized labor in Mexico might be fatally
wounded but he did make clear that there were real problems
in the movement that needed to be addresses. Three of the
most widespread ills cited by the CROC leader were (a) the
problem of company controlled unions, (b) protection
contracts and (c) outsourcing.

11. Company controlled unions are a particularly pervasive
phenomenon in Nuevo Leon and other parts of north Mexico
where the region,s private sector has created its own
company friendly/controlled unions; often referred to as
&White Unions.8 These &White Unions8 have been used to
keep more traditional unions from growing too large or from
being too aggressive (from the private sector,s perspective)
in contract negotiations or at promoting worker rights (from
the labor union,s perspective). The organizations that form
these company friendly unions can, and have been used to
supplant more traditional unions in a wide variety of
collective bargaining situations.

12. Gonzalez Cuevas next turned to the issues of protection
contracts and outsourcing. Unlike the phenomena of &White
Unions8 the problems of protection contracts and outsourcing
are not, comparatively speaking, limited to a particular
geographic region of Mexico. Protection contracts are used
to create unions which only exist on paper. Once
established, the holders of these contracts are views by GOM
labor authorities as legal representatives and bargaining
agents of the workers. Companies that employ protection
contracts often do so with the active support and collusion
of a legitimate Mexican labor federation and use them to
dictate salaries, and collect a cash portion of a workers
wages and benefits. Gonzalez Cuevas called on the GOM and
Mexico,s organized labor movement to do everything possible
to eliminate protection contracts. In discussing outsourcing
the CROC leader described it as a harsh tool blatantly used
by some to circumvent Federal Labor Laws with regard to job
cut backs and mandatory benefits. That said, he conceded
that outsourcing was a reality in today,s global economy.
Gonzalez Cuevas urged the GOM to establish some minimum
levels of government regulation of outsourcing in order to
give workers a basic level of labor rights and protections.


A CALL FOR UNINTY
-----------------

13. A major element of the CROC leader,s overview of the
problems of Mexico,s organized labor movement was the
emphasis he placed on the difficulties cause by a lack of
unity amount Mexican labor federations. In commenting on
this problem Gonzalez Cuevas pointed out that a lack of labor
unity was one of the main reasons why only about 7 million
workers in Mexico are unionized out of the more than 40
million in the country who are economically active. Gonzalez
Cuevas called for greater unity among Mexico,s labor
federations as a way of promoting and protecting the
interests of the country,s workers. The CROC leader,s
comments were noteworthy not just because, from labor,s
perspective, they are true but rather because he himself has
significantly contributed to the problems of labor disunity.

14. In 2006 when Gonzalez Cuevas supported the PRD and not
the PRI candidate for president many said he did so because
the former ruling party did not back his bid to be the
president of a major national labor umbrella organization.
Since his failed bid to lead this umbrella organization,
Gonzalez Cuevas has directed the CROC not to participate in
numerous labor actions or events organized by other PRI
affiliated labor organizations. His calls for labor
federation unity notwithstanding, just days after the end of
the CROC,s Monterrey meeting the federation announced that
once again it would not participate in the officially May 1
celebrations traditionally held by PRI affiliated labor
federations.

MEXICO 00001132 004 OF 004


COMMENT
-------

15. The CROC,s Monterrey meeting was a useful event for the
labor federation as it provided a very public forum to show
that the organization was mending its fences with the PRI.
This will be important in the days ahead as it would give the
CROC an opportunity to be heard by the party as the GOM works
with the Mexican congress in the current session of the
legislature on such matters as labor and energy reform. The
presence at the event of representatives from American labor
federations (AFL-CIO and SEIU) was also a plus for the CROC
as a sign that labor organizations in both countries are
attempting to coordinate their activities. These two items
are positive accomplishments for the CROC. However, in terms
of promoting worker interests, it would have been even better
for the CROC if the organization had begun to act on its own
call for greater labor unity in Mexico.


16. This message was cleared by AmConsul Monterrey.
Visit Mexico City's Classified Web Site at
http://www.state.sgov.gov/p/wha/mexicocity and the North American
Partnership Blog at http://www.intelink.gov/communities/state/nap /
GARZA

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