Mexico Mining Union Wins Battle to Pick Napoleon Gomez Urrutia as Its Leader

Napoleon Gomez Urrutia, May 28, 2008 Interview (I).

Editorial comment

The Mexican Supreme Court decision on Thursday May 3rd, that the National Union of Mine, Metal and Steelworkers (Los Mineros) is entitled to choose its own leader, is a huge victory for Mexican labor.  This is a resounding defeat for the Mexican right-wing employers who forced Napoleon Gomez Urrutia into exile in Canada in 2006 and persecuted him yet more after his election in 2008 as the General Secretary of Los Mineros.

Gomez Urrutia will return to Mexico stronger than ever because he continued to fight for the Mineros throughout his exile. He became fluent in English during his stay in Canada and used that time to advocate for workers and forge alliances with the International Metalworkers Federation, the AFL-CIO, and United Steel Workers (USW).

The first article describes yesterday’s court decision. The second, older, article gives an example of Gomez Urrutia’s activities in Canada.

Happy Cinco de Mayo!

Dady Chery, Editor
Haiti Chery

Mexico mining union wins battle to choose its leader

By Laurence Iliff
Dow Jones Newswires via 4-Traders

  • Supreme Court rules that mining union can pick its own leader
  • Court says government limited in judging union statutes
  • Union victory reinstates self-exiled leader Napoleon Gomez Urrutia

Mexico City, Mexico, May 4, 2012  –  The longtime leader of a key Mexican mining union is planning his return to Mexico following years of self-exile in Canada, after winning a series of court cases against the government, including a recent Supreme Court case and a criminal complaint, lawyers for the labor group said Thursday [May 3].

The leader of the National Union of Miners and Metal Workers, Napoleon Gomez Urrutia,

“has one foot in Mexico and one hand on his luggage,”

said Marco del Toro, a lawyer working for the union. Del Toro said Gomez has suffered a six-year persecution by the government for his defense of mining workers against politically powerful mining companies.

The miners’ union run by Gomez is best known for its strike against copper mine and railways operator Grupo Mexico SAB (GMEXICO.MX) that shut down the nation’s biggest copper mine at Cananea near the U.S. border for three years. Police removed the striking workers in the summer of 2010. Since then, Grupo Mexico has signed a contract with a different union and has been rapidly ramping up new operations at the mining complex with the goal of doubling output in coming years.

Officials for Grupo Mexico, which has two smaller mines still closed by the union, had no comment.

Miners’ union lawyer Carlos de Buen said the Wednesday ruling by the Supreme Court would allow Gomez to be formally reinstated as the union’s general secretary, which he called a critical win for the miners and other unions fighting government intervention in their internal affairs.

The Supreme Court ruled in a 3-1 vote that the Labor Ministry can’t deny its recognition of an elected union leader based on “eligibility factors,” and that only the union can decide whether a member is eligible to lead the group. The Labor Ministry said it accepted the high-court ruling and would “adjust its ruling based on those criteria.”

The Supreme Court ruling, and Gomez’s possible return to Mexico, could rekindle conflicts in the mining sector, and within the miners union itself.

A dissident group claiming to represent a majority of the union members said in a statement Thursday that it will file a complaint against the Supreme Court with the Organization of American States, insisting that Gomez’s election wasn’t legitimate.

Lawyers said the last of a series of arrest warrants against Gomez was recently struck down by a Mexican court, but that the government is likely to appeal, delaying his return for a time.

Federal prosecutors have alleged that Gomez misappropriated $55 million in union funds, charges he has repeatedly denied. Union lawyers said Thursday that all of the $55 million has been properly accounted for, including funds frozen by the Mexican government.

 

laurence.iliff@dowjones.com

Source: Dow Jones Newswires via 4-Traders

 

USW and Los Mineros meet in Toronto in further talks

By Tony Burke
Power in a Union

Napoleon Gomez Urrutia, head of Mexico's mining union Los Mineros, during an interview in Vancouver, British Columbia on May 28, 2008. Gomez Urrutia was already fighting trumped up charges of corruption and discussing how best to resolve a dispute over the certification of his re-election as head of the union (Credit: Reuters/Lyle Stafford, Canada).

Toronto, Canada, July 8, 2011. Persecuted leaders of one of Mexico’s largest and most democratic unions are in Toronto this week for unique negotiations on behalf of their members and to strengthen ties with the United Steelworkers.

Napoleón Gómez Urrutia and Juan Linares Montúfar, leaders of the Union of Mining, Metallurgical, Steel and Allied Workers of Mexico, known as Los Mineros, will be available for media interviews today between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m.

Gómez, Los Mineros’ National President, has lived in exile in Canada since 2006, after escaping threats and trumped-up charges of embezzlement from the Mexican government. Gómez continues to be persecuted by Mexico’s right-wing government despite the fact that international auditors and Mexican courts have exonerated him of any wrongdoing. Despite his exile, Gómez has been repeatedly re-elected by Los Mineros members as the union’s leader.

The support of Los Mineros members for Gómez is so strong that employers in Mexico continue to negotiate contracts with him despite his exile. This week, officials for the Mexican operations of steelmaking giant ArcelorMittal are meeting with Gómez in Toronto to negotiate a new collective agreement for workers.

Gómez is accompanied in Toronto by several Los Mineros representatives, including Juan Linares Montúfar. Linares, President of the union’s Justice and Oversight Commission, was unjustly imprisoned by the Mexican government for more than two years, until court victories and sustained international pressure finally led to his release on February 24th this year.

The Los Mineros leaders also are in Toronto for meetings with United Steelworkers (USW) officials. Gómez and USW International President Leo W. Gerard signed a joint declaration last year to develop a stronger and more comprehensive alliance between the two unions, which represent one million workers in North America.

Ken Neumann, United Steelworkers National Director for Canada, also will be available for media interviews today to discuss the union’s alliance with Los Mineros.

The United Steelworkers in the USA and Canada and Unite in the UK and Ireland are partners in the worlds first global union Workers Uniting.

 

Source: Power in a Union

 

 

Mexico mining union wins battle to choose its leader

By Laurence Iliff
Dow Jones Newswires via 4-Traders

  • Supreme Court rules that mining union can pick its own leader
  • Court says government limited in judging union statutes
  • Union victory reinstates self-exiled leader Napoleon Gomez Urrutia

Mexico City, Mexico –  The longtime leader of a key Mexican mining union is planning his return to Mexico following years of self-exile in Canada, after winning a series of court cases against the government, including a recent Supreme Court case and a criminal complaint, lawyers for the labor group said Thursday [May 3, 2012].

The leader of the National Union of Miners and Metal Workers, Napoleon Gomez Urrutia, “has one foot in Mexico and one hand on his luggage,” said Marco del Toro, a lawyer working for the union. Del Toro said Gomez has suffered a six-year persecution by the government for his defense of mining workers against politically powerful mining companies.

The miners’ union run by Gomez is best known for its strike against copper mine and railways operator Grupo Mexico SAB (GMEXICO.MX) that shut down the nation’s biggest copper mine at Cananea near the U.S. border for three years. Police removed the striking workers in the summer of 2010. Since then, Grupo Mexico has signed a contract with a different union and has been rapidly ramping up new operations at the mining complex with the goal of doubling output in coming years.

Officials for Grupo Mexico, which has two smaller mines still closed by the union, had no comment.

Miners’ union lawyer Carlos de Buen said the Wednesday ruling by the Supreme Court would allow Gomez to be formally reinstated as the union’s general secretary, which he called a critical win for the miners and other unions fighting government intervention in their internal affairs.

The Supreme Court ruled in a 3-1 vote that the Labor Ministry can’t deny its recognition of an elected union leader based on “eligibility factors,” and that only the union can decide whether a member is eligible to lead the group. The Labor Ministry said it accepted the high-court ruling and would “adjust its ruling based on those criteria.”

The Supreme Court ruling, and Gomez’s possible return to Mexico, could rekindle conflicts in the mining sector, and within the miners union itself.

A dissident group claiming to represent a majority of the union members said in a statement Thursday that it will file a complaint against the Supreme Court with the Organization of American States, insisting that Gomez’s election wasn’t legitimate.

Lawyers said the last of a series of arrest warrants against Gomez was recently struck down by a Mexican court, but that the government is likely to appeal, delaying his return for a time.

Federal prosecutors have alleged that Gomez misappropriated $55 million in union funds, charges he has repeatedly denied. Union lawyers said Thursday that all of the $55 million has been properly accounted for, including funds frozen by the Mexican government.

 

laurence.iliff@dowjones.com

Source: Dow Jones Newswires via 4-Traders

 

Los Mineros and Napoleon Gomez’s Exile

By Wade Rathke
Chief Organizer Blog

Prince George, British Columbia, October 22, 2010. I wanted to hear Napoleon Gomez Urrutia speak to the British Columbia Government Employees Union (BCGEU) leaders gathered in the northern part of the province to look at how their union connects to the community. Gomez is Secretary General of the 250,000+ member Union of Mining, Metallurgical, Steel and Allied Workers of Mexico, known popularly as Los Mineros in Mexico. Every year Gomez has been elected unanimously by the miners for the number of years since 2006. His miners are on huge strikes, where the Mexican government has intervened militarily throughout the country, in Guanajuato, Zacatecas, and Coahuila. He and his miners have been in a life-and-death struggle with Grupo Mexico in the giant copper mine in Cananea where the strike has gone on for several years.

Just more grist for the mills in the hard life of mines and miners? Not really, because the other part of this story is that Gomez is on the run. He ran from trumped up charges of embezzlement from the government, first to the United States and then to Canada where he has lived in Vancouver – and directed Los Mineros as its chief officer – since 2006 from a loaned office given him by the United Steelworkers regional office in BC. Gomez and three of his fellow officers, including one still be held as a political prisoner in Mexico, were accused by the Mexican government of misappropriating a fund of $55 million USD. Swiss auditors and Mexican courts have audited, investigated, and exonerated Gomez and his people, and the government has frozen $20 M USD in assets and accounts. The support of

Gomez by his members is so strong and consistent, that Gomez continues to negotiate contracts with the employers where the union has contracts after meetings in Vancouver where they travel to meet him and bargain with him, except of course for Grupo Mexico.

After a decades of calm in the 80′s and 90′s, Los Mineros have been involved in 30+ strikes in Mexico in the first decade of the 21st century under Gomez, and it is hard to escape feeling that this crackdown is prompted by the miners increased militancy. Gomez was quick to compare the abandonment by the Mexican government and the company of trapped miners in Coahuila, trapping and burying more than 60 miners in an underground grave, compared the job done recently to save the miners in Chile and earlier this year in China.

Talking to Gomez after his remarks, he seemed resigned. He has applied for permanent status in Canada, and seems not to believe a return to Mexico is anywhere close in his future. His English has become superb, and he has built huge support and solidarity throughout the international labor movement coupled with the Canadian Labor Congress and the AFL-CIO. He now carries 3 cell phones rather than the 5 he had in his early years as an exile.

Organizing is rough, but Gomez and Los Mineros are teaching the labor movement something about “the people united, shall never be defeated,” and that should give all of us heart and hope for the future, no matter how difficult and uncertain the future seems for them and for us.

 

Source: Chief Organizer Blog

 

 

Mexico mining union wins battle to choose its leader

By Laurence Iliff
Dow Jones Newswires via 4-Traders

  • Supreme Court rules that mining union can pick its own leader
  • Court says government limited in judging union statutes
  • Union victory reinstates self-exiled leader Napoleon Gomez Urrutia

Mexico City, Mexico –  The longtime leader of a key Mexican mining union is planning his return to Mexico following years of self-exile in Canada, after winning a series of court cases against the government, including a recent Supreme Court case and a criminal complaint, lawyers for the labor group said Thursday [May 3, 2012].

The leader of the National Union of Miners and Metal Workers, Napoleon Gomez Urrutia, “has one foot in Mexico and one hand on his luggage,” said Marco del Toro, a lawyer working for the union. Del Toro said Gomez has suffered a six-year persecution by the government for his defense of mining workers against politically powerful mining companies.

The miners’ union run by Gomez is best known for its strike against copper mine and railways operator Grupo Mexico SAB (GMEXICO.MX) that shut down the nation’s biggest copper mine at Cananea near the U.S. border for three years. Police removed the striking workers in the summer of 2010. Since then, Grupo Mexico has signed a contract with a different union and has been rapidly ramping up new operations at the mining complex with the goal of doubling output in coming years.

Officials for Grupo Mexico, which has two smaller mines still closed by the union, had no comment.

Miners’ union lawyer Carlos de Buen said the Wednesday ruling by the Supreme Court would allow Gomez to be formally reinstated as the union’s general secretary, which he called a critical win for the miners and other unions fighting government intervention in their internal affairs.

The Supreme Court ruled in a 3-1 vote that the Labor Ministry can’t deny its recognition of an elected union leader based on “eligibility factors,” and that only the union can decide whether a member is eligible to lead the group. The Labor Ministry said it accepted the high-court ruling and would “adjust its ruling based on those criteria.”

The Supreme Court ruling, and Gomez’s possible return to Mexico, could rekindle conflicts in the mining sector, and within the miners union itself.

A dissident group claiming to represent a majority of the union members said in a statement Thursday that it will file a complaint against the Supreme Court with the Organization of American States, insisting that Gomez’s election wasn’t legitimate.

Lawyers said the last of a series of arrest warrants against Gomez was recently struck down by a Mexican court, but that the government is likely to appeal, delaying his return for a time.

Federal prosecutors have alleged that Gomez misappropriated $55 million in union funds, charges he has repeatedly denied. Union lawyers said Thursday that all of the $55 million has been properly accounted for, including funds frozen by the Mexican government.

 

laurence.iliff@dowjones.com

Source: Dow Jones Newswires via 4-Traders

 

Los Mineros and Napoleon Gomez’s Exile

By Wade Rathke
Chief Organizer Blog

Prince George, British Columbia, October 22, 2010. I wanted to hear Napoleon Gomez Urrutia speak to the British Columbia Government Employees Union (BCGEU) leaders gathered in the northern part of the province to look at how their union connects to the community. Gomez is Secretary General of the 250,000+ member Union of Mining, Metallurgical, Steel and Allied Workers of Mexico, known popularly as Los Mineros in Mexico. Every year Gomez has been elected unanimously by the miners for the number of years since 2006. His miners are on huge strikes, where the Mexican government has intervened militarily throughout the country, in Guanajuato, Zacatecas, and Coahuila. He and his miners have been in a life-and-death struggle with Grupo Mexico in the giant copper mine in Cananea where the strike has gone on for several years.

Just more grist for the mills in the hard life of mines and miners? Not really, because the other part of this story is that Gomez is on the run. He ran from trumped up charges of embezzlement from the government, first to the United States and then to Canada where he has lived in Vancouver – and directed Los Mineros as its chief officer – since 2006 from a loaned office given him by the United Steelworkers regional office in BC. Gomez and three of his fellow officers, including one still be held as a political prisoner in Mexico, were accused by the Mexican government of misappropriating a fund of $55 million USD. Swiss auditors and Mexican courts have audited, investigated, and exonerated Gomez and his people, and the government has frozen $20 M USD in assets and accounts. The support of

Gomez by his members is so strong and consistent, that Gomez continues to negotiate contracts with the employers where the union has contracts after meetings in Vancouver where they travel to meet him and bargain with him, except of course for Grupo Mexico.

After a decades of calm in the 80′s and 90′s, Los Mineros have been involved in 30+ strikes in Mexico in the first decade of the 21st century under Gomez, and it is hard to escape feeling that this crackdown is prompted by the miners increased militancy. Gomez was quick to compare the abandonment by the Mexican government and the company of trapped miners in Coahuila, trapping and burying more than 60 miners in an underground grave, compared the job done recently to save the miners in Chile and earlier this year in China.

Talking to Gomez after his remarks, he seemed resigned. He has applied for permanent status in Canada, and seems not to believe a return to Mexico is anywhere close in his future. His English has become superb, and he has built huge support and solidarity throughout the international labor movement coupled with the Canadian Labor Congress and the AFL-CIO. He now carries 3 cell phones rather than the 5 he had in his early years as an exile.

Organizing is rough, but Gomez and Los Mineros are teaching the labor movement something about “the people united, shall never be defeated,” and that should give all of us heart and hope for the future, no matter how difficult and uncertain the future seems for them and for us.

 

Source: Chief Organizer Blog

 

 

Mexico mining union wins battle to choose its leader

By Laurence Iliff
Dow Jones Newswires via 4-Traders

  • Supreme Court rules that mining union can pick its own leader
  • Court says government limited in judging union statutes
  • Union victory reinstates self-exiled leader Napoleon Gomez Urrutia

Mexico City, Mexico –  The longtime leader of a key Mexican mining union is planning his return to Mexico following years of self-exile in Canada, after winning a series of court cases against the government, including a recent Supreme Court case and a criminal complaint, lawyers for the labor group said Thursday [May 3, 2012].

The leader of the National Union of Miners and Metal Workers, Napoleon Gomez Urrutia, “has one foot in Mexico and one hand on his luggage,” said Marco del Toro, a lawyer working for the union. Del Toro said Gomez has suffered a six-year persecution by the government for his defense of mining workers against politically powerful mining companies.

The miners’ union run by Gomez is best known for its strike against copper mine and railways operator Grupo Mexico SAB (GMEXICO.MX) that shut down the nation’s biggest copper mine at Cananea near the U.S. border for three years. Police removed the striking workers in the summer of 2010. Since then, Grupo Mexico has signed a contract with a different union and has been rapidly ramping up new operations at the mining complex with the goal of doubling output in coming years.

Officials for Grupo Mexico, which has two smaller mines still closed by the union, had no comment.

Miners’ union lawyer Carlos de Buen said the Wednesday ruling by the Supreme Court would allow Gomez to be formally reinstated as the union’s general secretary, which he called a critical win for the miners and other unions fighting government intervention in their internal affairs.

The Supreme Court ruled in a 3-1 vote that the Labor Ministry can’t deny its recognition of an elected union leader based on “eligibility factors,” and that only the union can decide whether a member is eligible to lead the group. The Labor Ministry said it accepted the high-court ruling and would “adjust its ruling based on those criteria.”

The Supreme Court ruling, and Gomez’s possible return to Mexico, could rekindle conflicts in the mining sector, and within the miners union itself.

A dissident group claiming to represent a majority of the union members said in a statement Thursday that it will file a complaint against the Supreme Court with the Organization of American States, insisting that Gomez’s election wasn’t legitimate.

Lawyers said the last of a series of arrest warrants against Gomez was recently struck down by a Mexican court, but that the government is likely to appeal, delaying his return for a time.

Federal prosecutors have alleged that Gomez misappropriated $55 million in union funds, charges he has repeatedly denied. Union lawyers said Thursday that all of the $55 million has been properly accounted for, including funds frozen by the Mexican government.

 

laurence.iliff@dowjones.com

Source: Dow Jones Newswires via 4-Traders

 

Los Mineros and Napoleon Gomez’s Exile

By Wade Rathke
Chief Organizer Blog

Prince George, British Columbia, October 22, 2010. I wanted to hear Napoleon Gomez Urrutia speak to the British Columbia Government Employees Union (BCGEU) leaders gathered in the northern part of the province to look at how their union connects to the community. Gomez is Secretary General of the 250,000+ member Union of Mining, Metallurgical, Steel and Allied Workers of Mexico, known popularly as Los Mineros in Mexico. Every year Gomez has been elected unanimously by the miners for the number of years since 2006. His miners are on huge strikes, where the Mexican government has intervened militarily throughout the country, in Guanajuato, Zacatecas, and Coahuila. He and his miners have been in a life-and-death struggle with Grupo Mexico in the giant copper mine in Cananea where the strike has gone on for several years.

Just more grist for the mills in the hard life of mines and miners? Not really, because the other part of this story is that Gomez is on the run. He ran from trumped up charges of embezzlement from the government, first to the United States and then to Canada where he has lived in Vancouver – and directed Los Mineros as its chief officer – since 2006 from a loaned office given him by the United Steelworkers regional office in BC. Gomez and three of his fellow officers, including one still be held as a political prisoner in Mexico, were accused by the Mexican government of misappropriating a fund of $55 million USD. Swiss auditors and Mexican courts have audited, investigated, and exonerated Gomez and his people, and the government has frozen $20 M USD in assets and accounts. The support of

Gomez by his members is so strong and consistent, that Gomez continues to negotiate contracts with the employers where the union has contracts after meetings in Vancouver where they travel to meet him and bargain with him, except of course for Grupo Mexico.

After a decades of calm in the 80′s and 90′s, Los Mineros have been involved in 30+ strikes in Mexico in the first decade of the 21st century under Gomez, and it is hard to escape feeling that this crackdown is prompted by the miners increased militancy. Gomez was quick to compare the abandonment by the Mexican government and the company of trapped miners in Coahuila, trapping and burying more than 60 miners in an underground grave, compared the job done recently to save the miners in Chile and earlier this year in China.

Talking to Gomez after his remarks, he seemed resigned. He has applied for permanent status in Canada, and seems not to believe a return to Mexico is anywhere close in his future. His English has become superb, and he has built huge support and solidarity throughout the international labor movement coupled with the Canadian Labor Congress and the AFL-CIO. He now carries 3 cell phones rather than the 5 he had in his early years as an exile.

Organizing is rough, but Gomez and Los Mineros are teaching the labor movement something about “the people united, shall never be defeated,” and that should give all of us heart and hope for the future, no matter how difficult and uncertain the future seems for them and for us.

 

Source: Chief Organizer Blog

 

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