Napoleon Gomez Urrutia earned worldwide recognition for leading the struggle for labor rights in Mexico. Unanimously elected to serve as President and General Secretary of the National Union of Mine, Metal, Steel and Allied Workers of the Mexican Republic over 13 years ago, Mr. Gomez has been unwavering in his staunch support of unions and the working class. He also sits on the executive committee of the IndustriALL Global Union, which represents a staggering 50 million members worldwide. His professional influence extends globally, including work with organizations like the United Steelworkers Union of North America.
After graduating as a Doctor of Philosophy from Oxford, Napoleon Gomez began work as the Director General at the Mexican Mint in 1979, a position he held for over 12 years. During this time, Napoleon also served as the International President of Mint Directors Conference, becoming the first Mexican to serve in such a role. Afterwards, he took a job as the Director General at the Autlan Mining Group. Eventually, he became active as a leader with the National Union of Mine, Metal, Steel and Allied Workers of the Mexican Republic.
Under his stewardship, the National Union of Mine, Metal, Steel and Allied Workers of the Mexican Republic has remained steadfast in its activism on behalf of its constituency. Once elected, Napoleon Gomez immediately took measures to reinforce and rejuvenate the union. He demanded employers adopt policies like mandating wage increases proportional to growing profits. He established a productive partnership with the global trade union movement, and he also challenged government policies of low, stagnant wages and expendable labor.
His commitment to social justice and human rights fuels a variety of published works, including contributions to well-respected publications like La Jornada. Mr. Gomez also earned widespread acclaim for his NY Times, best-selling book titled Collapse of Dignity: The Story of a Mining Tragedy and the Fight Against Greed and Corruption in Mexico. The book details the harsh realities facing the labor movement. His writing earned a Gold Medal at the Independent Publisher Book Awards.
Napoleon Gomez’s advocacy work has been similarly recognized on several occasions. In November 2011, AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka called Mr. Gomez “truly courageous.” When presenting Mr. Gomez with the George Meany-Lane Kirkland Human Rights Award, Mr. Trumka added, “Napoleón is a hero, because every day he fights for the lives and welfare of the Mexican workers and their families.” Approximately one year later, Mr. Gomez was nominated for the Edelstam Prize from The Harald Edelstam Foundation. This honor highlights contributions and exceptional courage in standing up for the Defense of Human Rights. In 2014, Napoleon Gomez also won the Arthur Svensson Prize for Trade Union Rights from Industri Energi, The Sentiments of the Nation from the Asamblea Popular de los Pueblos de Guerrero. That same year the National Association of Democratic Lawyers (ANAD) awarded Napoleon Gomez Urrutia with the prestigious 2014 Emilio Krieger medal, in recognition of his fight to defend and promote social justice and the rights of Mexican people.
Napoleon Gomez set the example as a progressive thinker, implementing social programs that benefit the lives of more than 250,000. He launched a strategic national educational program with the Monterrey Institute of Technology and Higher Education that provides scholarships for the members of the Miners’ Union and their families who wish to get training, certificates, or pursue a Bachelors or Engineer University Program. Other important social programs which make a difference in the lives of thousands include Minero con Casa, which provides every member of the union with a home, and Minero Seguro, which provides members and their families access to special medical and life insurance.