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MX23_AG_SNAC_Alejandro

MEXICO - Agriculture

Alejandro Martínez

General Secretary, National Union of Food and Commerce (SNAC)

Bio

Alejandro Martínez is General Secretary of SNAC and Director of Section XI of the Federation of Workers of Mexico City in the CTM. In 2012, he joined Barcel as a salesperson and started his trajectory in SNAC. In 2019, he was elected national secretary general of the executive committee. Martínez has a master’s degree in senior business management from IPADE and another in government and public management in Latin America from Pompeu Fabra University in Barcelona.

"Our goal is to develop leaders from within the workforce, from the bottom up, and ensure they will not require the services of a union forever."

SNAC’s vision is to strategically create better working conditions together with member companies that will result in higher productivity and profit increases, benefiting everyone.

What challenges are companies in the food and commerce industry facing in terms of their workforce?

We are facing a talent and leadership crisis that goes far beyond the food and commerce industry. This is something that every workplace is trying to deal with and solve, especially when it comes to hiring, retaining, and engaging leaders and employee. The risks associated with generational changes, combined with a new post-pandemic reality, are great. New generations of employees need to be trained quickly and must be encouraged to embrace company values and mode of operation, while helping them identify with and develop a sense of belonging and purpose within a community. Avoiding conflict and dissatisfaction, and trying to make everyone happy in the workplace, is not an effective, let alone realistic, strategy. As a union, we also strive for excellence and are aware of our role as advocates; however, our role must also be understood as that of educators of our affiliates and even of their families. Based on observable trends, it is safe to assume that 30 years from now, at least half of the current unionized jobs will be gone. We need to be ready for a new automation revolution that will lead to robots and AI taking over many current jobs. We must develop the right set of skills amongst our members so that they may face future challenges and be ready for the type of jobs that will be available to them in the future.

Why is SNAC promoting the idea of a smart union?

A smart union is not about brain-related intelligence, it is about leadership style and the drive to innovate by using new technologies to serve people and not the other way around. Our goal is to develop leaders with a clearly defined methodology, overcoming the type of confrontational attitude that union leaders are typically associated with, and promote in its stead collective consciousness and intelligence, and develop the skill sets that will allow workers to maximize their potential and transform companies from within. Smart leadership is about establishing strategic alliances between the unionized workers and the companies, because, directly or indirectly, we are also stakeholders. By developing professional union leaders, it is possible to plan strategically and create together with the companies better working conditions, which lead to productivity and profit increases that can only be accomplished through this type of strategic partnering model that takes advantage of all knowledge and contributions from the bottom up. Our union has become an MVP for the companies we work with, as well as for our affiliates. I am a firm believer that strategic planning can be done with both union and business thinking. The most mature model within the SNAC methodology is that of Grupo Bimbo, and it is no coincidence that Bimbo is the world’s number-one company in its realm, while its work culture is regarded as a role model for other companies, as evidenced by the awards and acknowledgements it receives on an annual basis. In Mexico, the unions within Grupo Bimbo are strong and constitute an integral part of the company’s success; we have built this work culture and its achievements together for more than 80 years.

What are your goals for the union?

Our goal is to develop leaders from within the workforce, from the bottom up, and ensure they will not require the services of a union forever. We want to capture the bottom of the social pyramid, help them grow and develop, prepare them and propel them into management, a better life, and personal and professional growth in or outside the company. We want to help them become better persons and citizens. Empowering the working class with the model of a smart union is my personal goal and legacy. It is the way to recalibrate the balance of power and help the world be a better place for everyone.

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