On July 31st, 2019, the Ministry of Labor and Social Welfare ("STPS", for its Spanish acronym), published in the Federal Official Gazette, the "Protocol for the legitimation of existing collective bargaining agreements" (the "Protocol") , which is part of the reforms made in May of this year to several labor regulations to transparent, legitimize and democratize collective labor relationships and negotiations between companies and Unions.

The process of legitimation and union "democratization" consists in submitting the collective bargaining agreements to the direct approval of the employees affiliated to the Union. If the collective bargaining agreement does not have the approval of at least the majority of the employees through personal, free, direct and secret vote, then it will be terminated; however, those benefits and labor conditions that are above the standards of the Federal Labor Law will remain valid.

The Protocol sets forth the process through which the Union that executed the collective bargaining agreement must submit it to legitimation, including the following actions, among others:

  • The Union shall provide electronic notice to the STPS of the query to the employees, with at least 10 business days in advance.
  • The notice must contain certain general information regarding the Union, the collective bargaining agreement and the employer; as well as the date and time of the query, in case the Union considers appropriate for the query to be verified by a public notary or by an officer of the labor authority.
  • Employer must facilitate for the query to be carried out and provide its employees with a printed copy of the collective bargaining agreement with at least three business days before the date of the query.
  • The union must use the documents (call, ballots and voting minutes) generated through the electronic platform established by the STPS to perform the query process. These formats will be the only documents authorized for carrying out the query process, therefore, any other documentation used will be considered invalid.
  • The Union will notify the STPS the results of the query through the electronic platform within the three business days following the query. If the Union does not provide such notice, the collective bargaining agreement will not be deemed as legitimated.
  • The employer must not have any intervention during the query procedure.
  • STPS will have a twenty business day period after receiving the results from the Union to make any observation regarding the query. In case STPS does make any comments, the collective bargaining agreement will be deemed as legitimated.

Under the Protocol, STPS may request the Conciliation and Arbitration Boards to request Unions to legitimate their collective bargaining agreements under this Protocol. In case they do not carry out the legitimation process before May 1st, 2023, the collective agreement will be terminated.

The new Protocol became effective as of August 1st, 2019 and will be in effect until the Federal Center for Conciliation and Labor Registry commence its registration and verification activities.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.