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Union of Colombian Workers (UTC)

Union of Colombian Workers (UTC)

The Union of Colombian Workers (Unión de Trabajadores de Colombia—UTC) was the most important labor confederation in Colombia from 1950 to 1980. It was created in 1946 at the urging of the Catholic Church to counter the leftist Confederation of Colombian Workers (CTC). The strong religious tendency within the early UTC (Jesuit advisers remained active until the 1960s) made the confederation acceptable to female workers and traditional factory owners. During the wave of industrialization in Colombia after 1945, the UTC organized the new industrial workers, and by 1950 it had replaced the CTC as the largest confederation.

During its early years, the UTC had tried to avoid partisan issues, but in 1963 a new UTC president, Tulio Cuevas, linked the UTC with the Conservative Party. Backing and funds from the Colombian and U.S. governments fueled the expansion of the UTC, whose membership reached half a million workers in 1971. The rank and file became disenchanted with the corrupt and autocratic leadership, and in 1980 the 100,000 members from Cun-dinamarca bolted from the UTC. Other unions followed, many of which later joined the new Unified Central of Workers (CUT). By 1986, the UTC's membership had dropped to 80,000, representing barely 13 percent of unionized workers in Colombia. The UTC has continued to decline, and its future survival is seriously in doubt, as is that of the CTC. The obsession of leaders with preserving their plush posts, however, has blocked attempts to merge the former rivals, which have been eclipsed by the CUT.

See alsoLabor Movements .


Hernando Gómez B. et al., Sindicalismo y política económica (1986).

René De La Pedraja, "Colombia," in Latin American Labor Organizations, edited by Gerald Greenfield and Sheldon L. Maram (1987), pp. 179-212.

Fernando López-Alves, "Explaining Confederation: Colombian Unions in the 1980s," in Latin American Research Review 25 (1990): 115-133.

Additional Bibliography

Farnsworth-Alvear, Ann. Dulcinea in the Factory: Myths, Morals, Men, and Women in Colombia's Industrial Experiment, 1905–1960. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2000.

Silva Romero, Marcel. Flujos y reflujos: Reseña histórica sobre la autonomía del sindicalismo colombiano. Santafé de Bogotá: Universidad Nacional de Colombia, Facultad de Derecho, Ciencias Políticas y Sociales, 1998.

                                   RenÉ De La Pedraja

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