Mexican Union Revitalization In The Face Of Dual Transitions: Adapting To A New Context With Old Labor Laws

Other Titles


Starting in 1982 Mexico embarked on an economic transition that shifted the Mexican market to export-based development. In 2000, as this model was becoming firmly entrenched, Mexico experienced a democratization process. This paper explores and maps the responses and adaptations of labor unions and confederations in Mexico in the face of the country's dual transitions. It employs concepts from the union revitalization literature of the Global North, uses Bensusán's (2004) typology of unions in Mexico, and draws on data from union literature and interviews with union leaders. By employing the concept of the servicing model of unionism, I describe how the previous political exchange between the state and labor unions can be understood as a "corporatist servicing model." The economic transition disrupted the corporatist servicing model, but unions did not engage in revitalization processes due to the combined weakness of their organizations and strength of the government. In the face of the political transition, however, some unions have surprised observers by expanding their use of revitalization tactics. Some unions in the new democratic context are expanding their autonomy and becoming more responsive to union members. Despite this movement toward more responsible, authentic unionism, these unions still refrain from a full, transformative revitalization project. In most cases the government's repressive powers still limit the ability of labor organizations to sustain strong critique of employers or the government. While democracy has allowed some unions to implement revitalization tactics, the political and economic atmosphere continues to limit many unions' desire to implement transformative revitalization projects. Unions' ability to fundamentally revitalize, or to alter their strategy beyond autonomous cooperation with employers, continues to be impeded by the remaining repressive power of the government. This context allows union leaders to use revitalization tactics to reinforce their positions without fully transforming the union. Thus we see union leaders using revitalization tactics for purposes that are antithetical to the true purpose of union revitalization.

Journal / Series

Volume & Issue



Date Issued




Unions; Revitalization; Mexico


Effective Date

Expiration Date




Union Local


Number of Workers

Committee Chair

Cook, Maria L

Committee Co-Chair

Committee Member

Martinez-Matsuda, Veronica
Turner, Lowell

Degree Discipline

Industrial and Labor Relations

Degree Name

M.S., Industrial and Labor Relations

Degree Level

Master of Science

Related Version

Related DOI

Related To

Related Part

Based on Related Item

Has Other Format(s)

Part of Related Item

Related To

Related Publication(s)

Link(s) to Related Publication(s)


Link(s) to Reference(s)

Previously Published As

Government Document




Other Identifiers


Rights URI


dissertation or thesis

Accessibility Feature

Accessibility Hazard

Accessibility Summary

Link(s) to Catalog Record