U.S. Labor Leader Seeks Union Support in Mexico

Por Sam Dillon The New York Times , 23/01/98

John J. Sweeney, president of the A.F.L.-C.I.O., began a two-day trip to Mexico today that he said was aimed at encouraging Mexican and American unions to help each other in cross-border organizing drives and to find other ‘’practical ways to work together.’’

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When the North American Free Trade Agreement, or Nafta, was being negotiated in the early 1990’s, the A.F.L.-C.I.O. reached out to the confederation, seeking to form an alliance that would give the labor movements of both countries more bargaining leverage. But the confederation refused to cooperate with the A.F.L.-C.I.O. because of its unconditional support for the Mexican Government’s position on Nafta, said Luis Manuel Guaida, a Mexican labor lawyer who is a consultant to the American Chamber of Commerce.

Since the passage of Nafta and Mr. Sweeney’s election to the A.F.L.-C.I.O. presidency in October 1995, the American federation has decided to reach out to smaller and more militant Mexican unions that for years have been persecuted here but are growing fast.

‘’Now Sweeney is seeking ties with independent unions, and that’s very significant,’’ Mr. Guaida said. ‘’This should set off alarm bells at the C.T.M. that they better wake up.’’

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