Employers Associations and Trade Unions in Mexico

1. Brief Description of Employees’ and Employers’ Organizations

Article 356 of the FLL defines a union as “the association of workers or employers for the study, advancement, and defence of their respective interests.” It follows from this definition that labor unions may not include both workers and management members.

Labor unions can be organized as follows:

  • trade unions, encompassing workers of the same profession, skill, or specialty;
  • enterprise unions, encompassing workers employed in the same enterprise;
  • industrial unions, encompassing workers who work in two or more enterprises in the same industry;
  • national industry-wide unions, formed by workers employed in the same industry but who are located in two or more states (including the Federal District) and various trades; and
  • multi-craft unions, established in municipalities that do not have 20 or more workers of the same profession, trade, or specialty.

Similarly, there are different types of employers’ unions or associations, as follows:

  • those formed by employers in one locality who are engaged in one or more activities; and
  • national associations, comprising employers in several states.

2. Rights and Importance of Trade Unions

Trade (or craft) unions may enter into their own collective agreements provided they represent the majority of the workers engaged in that trade within the company.

3. Types of Representation

Unions may represent its members at either the national or local levels. In order to gain official recognition, unions must register with the Secretariat of Labor and Social Welfare in cases where the federal government has jurisdiction, and with the local conciliation and arbitration board in cases of local jurisdiction.

A union cannot be dissolved or suspended, nor can its registration be cancelled, by administrative decision. Cancelling the registration requires a legal process that demonstrates that the union has been dissolved or it no longer complies with legal requirements. A union can be dissolved only when it is so agreed by two-thirds of its membership or when the term specified in its bylaws has expired.

4. Number of Representatives

The FLL does not provide how a union’s board of directors should be constituted, although reference is made to “general,” “internal,” and “recording” secretariats. This information is most commonly contained in the union’s bylaws.

Some labor unions—especially the larger ones—are divided into sections representing specific groups of workers, work areas, specialties, etc. These sections do not have, as a general rule, their own legal standing and in collective matters must act through the board of directors of the principal union.

Unions are represented by their secretary general or by a person appointed by the board of directors, unless the bylaws provide otherwise.

The general membership meeting is the supreme decision-making body of a union. The bylaws must specify the manner in which general membership meetings should be convened, the intervals at which they should be held, and the required quorum.

5. Appointment of Representatives

The FLL does not provide how a union’s board of directors should be constituted, although reference is made to “general,” “internal,” and “recording” secretariats. This information is most commonly contained in the union’s bylaws.

6. Tasks and Obligations of Representatives

Unions are under a permanent obligation to report periodically to the labor authorities any new members. They must also advise the labor authorities of any changes in the board of directors or amendments to their bylaws.

7. Employees’ Representation in Management

Workers have no representation in the company’s Management.

8. Other Types of Employee Representative Bodies

Employees also have the right to designate representatives to be part of mixed commissions (safety and health, profit-sharing, training, productivity and development, and the like), for which they need not be unionized. Meetings of workers for these purposes are, strictly speaking, temporary accords for the protection of their mutual interests—that is, coalitions.

For more information on these articles or any other issues involving labour and employment matters in Mexico, please contact Oscar De La Vega, Partner at De La Vega & Martinez Rojas S.C. ( at
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