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U.S. says GM Mexican plant workers vote shows bargaining benefits

WASHINGTON, May 27 (Reuters) - U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) Katherine Tai said Friday the vote by General Motors GM.N workers at a pickup truck plant in Mexico to approve a new contract "demonstrates the significant benefits of true collective bargaining." Reuters reported earlier this month GM agreed to an 8.5% wage hike with a new, independent union at its plant in the central Mexican city of Silao. Tai said under labor protections under the USMCA trade deal that "workers no longer have to tolerate contracts negotiated behind their backs and have the right to vote on an agreement after it's negotiated." Workers voted Wednesday and Thursday to approve the contract, with 4,614 ballots in favor and 844 against, union SINTTIA said. GM declined immediate comment Friday. In May 2021, the USTR invoked powers under USMCA and asked Mexico to probe alleged abuses at the Silao plant after an April 2021 union contract vote. Those powers "helped workers get to this vote, and the United States will continue to work with Mexico to protect worker rights," Tai said. The deal with SINTTIA also marks the first major raise since the start of USMCA. Following a vote closely watched by U.S. officials, SINTTIA this year became the first independent union in the GM Silao plant's history, in an early test of USMCA labor rules. The pay deal appears to outstrip others recently struck by independent unions in Mexico's auto sector. Nissan 7201.T this year agreed to boost wages 6.5%, while last year Volkswagen VOWG_p.DE agreed for a 5.5% raise. GM won key changes to USMCA that allowed it to continue to build hundreds of thousands of high-profit pickups in Mexico for export to the United States annually. Under NAFTA, Mexican factory wages stagnated for more than two decades, in part because of a union system that made it hard for workers to organize freely. (Reporting by David Shepardson and Daina Beth Solomon Editing by Mark Potter) ((David.Shepardson@thomsonreuters.com; 2028988324;)) The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

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