On July 31, 2019, the Mexican Ministry of Labor (“STPS,” by its acronym in Spanish) issued the Protocol for the Legitimization of existing Collective Bargaining Agreements (Protocol), which was published in the Official Gazette of the Federation. The Protocol will require all unions in Mexico that are parties to collective bargaining agreements to revisit employee support for the current agreement; otherwise, if the legitimization process is not carried out, the collective bargaining agreement will be terminated.

The Protocol took effect August 1, 2019, and remains in effect until the Federal Center for Conciliation and Labor Registration becomes operational, on May 1, 2021, as ordered in the reform of the Federal Labor Law. The Protocol’s guidelines establish that the content of a collective bargaining agreement must be approved by the majority of the employees covered by it, through a process in which the employees will freely and directly vote in order to legitimize the collective bargaining agreement before the STPS.

The procedure for the legitimization of an existing collective bargaining agreement will begin with the request of the certified union. The union must give notice to the STPS through a website established by the STPS for that purpose. In this notice, the union must provide information regarding itself, the employer, the collective bargaining agreement, and the consultation and voting process that will be provided to the employees to determine if the majority supports the collective bargaining agreement.

The vote may be carried out with verification by a public notary or with verification of a labor authority.

The union will provide a list of employees with a right to vote, excluding confidential employees and those that started rendering their services after the date on which the notice to the STPS was submitted. Likewise, employees who have been dismissed during the three months prior to the presentation of the notice will be entitled to vote, except for those who voluntarily terminated their employment relationship.

The union shall notify STPS of the outcome of the vote within three business days after the date of the election. If a public notary verifies the consultation process, the corresponding notarial certification must be included in this notice.

If the STPS finds that irregularities occurred in the consultation procedure, the results of the election will be declared void. If the STPS does not make observations or question the results during the 20 business days following the date on which the union gave notice of the result, the collective bargaining agreement shall be deemed legitimate, and the union may request a certificate of legitimization from the STPS.

If the vote demonstrates that the collective bargaining agreement does not have the majority support of the employees, said agreement will be terminated. The benefits and working conditions included in the collective bargaining agreement that are superior to those established by the law, however, will be retained for the benefit of the workers.

The STPS may request the Labor Boards to urge unions that have collective bargaining agreements registered before them to legitimize their collective bargaining agreements before May 1, 2023. Otherwise, those collective bargaining agreements will be terminated.

Employers should bear in mind that the process of legitimizing collective bargaining agreements is completely independent of annual revisions to the collective bargaining agreements, which is why the Protocol does not impose any obligations on companies but rather on unions. On the other hand, it is expected that the Labor Boards will continue accepting collective bargaining agreement revisions without requiring the legitimization of the respective collective bargaining agreement before the STPS. Employers should stayed tuned for further developments, as there is a possibility that new requirements will be established.