Workers at the biggest General Motors production plant in Mexico are asking for a raise. A newly formed union at the plant, where many mid-level employees earn roughly $3 an hour, is seeking a 19.2-percent wage increase that would bring some wages as high as $6.62 an hour, according to a report from Reuters.
The wage hike would help workers at the plant in Silao, Mexico, deal with runaway inflation in the country, currently over 7 percent. GM countered with a proposed wage increase of 3.5 percent, which SINTTIA, the newly formed union at the plant, called a slap in the face.
The Silao complex cranks out more than a thousand Silverado and Sierra trucks per day, according to GM:
Reuters calls the trucks profitable, which is an understatement. The Chevrolet Silverado (badged the Cheyenne in Mexico) and the GMC Sierra are veritable cash cows for the U.S. auto giant. The trucks have given GM a 32.5 percent market share in their segment of the U.S. auto market — or just about a third of all truck sales in the U.S. That’s probably a big chunk of the profits that GM recently posted.
The automaker expects to make somewhere between $9.6 and $11.6 billion in 2022. These projections, along with new labor laws that are part of the USMCA agreement, have empowered GM workers in Mexico to finally ask the carmaker to address the wage disparity between workers in the U.S. and Mexico. GM factory workers in the U.S. start at $17.50 per hour.
Alejandra Morales is the Secretary General of the plant’s new labor union, SINTTIA (translated: National Independent Labor Union Of Automotive Workmen And Workwomen). Morales told Reuters that the requested raise would help combat inflation, account for the plant’s increased output, and fight the slumping purchasing power of the peso in a time when GM’s profits, in U.S. dollars, are strong.
The independent SINTTIA union replaced another union that operated largely unopposed at Silao for some 25 years. In that time, the union allegedly represented members poorly and was accused of corruption and bribes meant to keep worker pay low.
The deadline for negotiations is May 31, and SINTTIA says it’s ready to strike. Workers are reportedly not optimistic about the pay increase.