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Mexican State-Labor Relations and the Political Implications of Free Trade

Mexican State-Labor Relations and the Political Implications of Free Trade

Abstract

Mexican State-Labor Relations and the Political Implications of Free Trade SAGE Publications, Inc.1995DOI: 10.1177/0094582X9502200106 Maria Lorena Cook by Throughout Latin America, organized labor has been seriously affected by a decade of economic crisis and neoliberal economic restructuring that has resulted in increased unemployment, declining real wages, and reduced union prerogatives. In Mexico these economic changes have been accompanied by a dramatic reduction in organized labor's political influence and the virtual destruction of union militancy and autonomy. Plant closures, layoffs, and the dismantling of strongly prounion collective bargaining agreements have eliminated or debilitated once militant workers' organizations in such industries as auto, mining, and steel. The capacity of either official or independent unions to articulate an alternative vision for Mexican economic and social development-a capacity in existence as recently as the late 1970s-is scarcely in evidence today. These changes have also brought about an initial restructuring of state-labor relations in Mexico. Because of the historical significance of Mexican labor's relationship with the regime, changes in state-labor relations affect the nature of the regime itself: its social bases, the relationship between party, government, and social sectors, and forms of mediation between state and society. In the 1980s it was commonplace
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