2/2 © Reuters. Vehicles wait in a queue for border customs management, to cross into the U.S., on the Zaragoza-Ysleta border crossing bridge in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico December 12, 2019. REUTERS/Jose Luis Gonzalez 2/2 By Daina Beth Solomon MEXICO CITY (Reuters) -U.S. unions on Monday filed the primary labor rights petition in opposition to Mexico
© Reuters. Vehicles wait in a queue for border customs management, to cross into the U.S., on the Zaragoza-Ysleta border crossing bridge in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico December 12, 2019. REUTERS/Jose Luis Gonzalez
By Daina Beth Solomon
MEXICO CITY (Reuters) -U.S. unions on Monday filed the primary labor rights petition in opposition to Mexico underneath a brand new regional commerce pact, vying to convey a criticism in opposition to an auto components firm on the border that they are saying has denied employees the appropriate to unbiased illustration.
The petition – filed by the most important U.S. labor federation, the American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO) – states that employees at Tridonex in Matamoros, throughout from Texas, have been blocked from electing a union of their selection.
The US-Mexico-Canada Settlement (USMCA) that changed NAFTA final yr, enshrines that proper as a part of its goal to provide extra energy to employees to demand higher salaries. It was additionally meant to forestall low labor prices from leeching extra U.S. jobs.
Because the 1994 NAFTA, which had few enforcement instruments for labor guidelines, wages in Mexico have stagnated and now rank because the lowest within the Organisation for Financial Cooperation and Improvement (OECD), a membership of 37 industrialized nations.
Reuters reported final week https://www.reuters.com/world/americas/mexico-autos-town-labor-rights-falter-despite-us-trade-deal-2021-05-03 that a whole lot of employees had sought to be represented by a brand new union led by activist-attorney Susana Prieto since 2019, but state labor officers by no means scheduled an election. Prieto stated 600 of her supporters at Tridonex final yr have been fired, in what some employees described as retaliation for his or her efforts to modify unions.
Tridonex’s guardian is Philadelphia-based Cardone Industries, which is managed by Canadian firm Brookfield Asset Administration.
Cardone stated it didn’t agree with the AFL-CIO’s assertions, however would handle any issues that would come up within the criticism course of.
“We don’t consider that the allegations within the criticism are correct and welcome a full inquiry in order that the information could be disclosed,” the corporate stated in a press release, with out detailing which components it disputed.
The present union at Tridonex, SITPME, additionally rejected the AFL-CIO’s allegations.
“It is all incorrect,” stated union chief Jesus Mendoza. “Nearly all of employees at Tridonex are 100% with SITPME.”
Below USMCA’s “Speedy Response Mechanism,” corporations in Mexico and america can face tariffs and different penalties for failing to make sure employee rights, similar to freedom of affiliation.
The AFL-CIO’s petition marks the primary time the commerce deal’s labor enforcement is being put to make use of, and can be carefully watched by firms and labor activists.
“That is precedent-setting,” stated Cathy Feingold, director of the worldwide division of the AFL-CIO, which lobbied for higher worker-rights provisions within the USMCA. “It is going to be a check for this new system.”
The AFL-CIO will ship its petition to the U.S. Workplace of Commerce and Labor Affairs, which has 30 days to evaluation the declare and decide whether or not to convey the case to the Mexican authorities for additional evaluation.
Mexican labor officers would then work with U.S. counterparts to agree on phrases of remediation. All the course of, together with a ultimate stage to find out potential sanctions and penalty charges, have to be resolved inside 5 months.
A U.S. official stated President Joe Biden’s administration would analyze circumstances that fall underneath the USMCA’s labor provisions.
“We’ll rigorously evaluation Speedy Response complaints filed for any denial of rights,” the individual stated.
Neither the Mexican labor ministry nor the state authorities of Tamaulipas, the place Matamoros is positioned, replied to requests for remark.
“Most of this might get fastened fairly rapidly if the political will is there,” stated Benjamin Davis, director of worldwide affairs for the United Steelworkers, a part of the AFL-CIO.
Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, who signed a labor reform into legislation in 2019, has vowed to dispose of Mexico’s ubiquitous safety contracts that critics say put firm pursuits over employee rights. Stamping out safety contracts can be a purpose of the USMCA.
But the brand new legislation is being step by step rolled out all through Mexico and modifications is not going to begin to attain Tamaulipas state till 2022.
Davis stated Mexico nonetheless has an obligation to ensure the reform is enjoying out on the bottom.
“The rights begin instantly, even when establishments aren’t in place but,” he stated.
The petition was additionally backed by the Service Workers Worldwide Union, which represents Cardone staff in america, together with U.S. nonprofit Public Citizen’s World Commerce Watch, and Prieto’s union, referred to as SNITIS.
Prieto stated she hoped the efforts of Tridonex staff to make clear their scenario might encourage different employees to talk out.
“That is one thing that may very well be a boomerang in Mexico,” she stated.