WASHINGTON — The U.S. Department of Labor and International Labor Organization today announced the launch of a joint initiative in Leon, Guanajuato, that will support workplace democratic processes in Mexico through the impartial observation of workplace votes and the capacity-building of workers, employers and other key stakeholders on the issues of freedom of association and collective bargaining.The Observation and Engagement for Rights Verification and Realization Initiative, or OBSERVAR, aligns with U.S. obligations in the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement and the goals of Mexico’s 2019 labor reform to support worker voice in the designation of worker organizations and promote collective bargaining by representatives fairly selected by the workers.The department has awarded the ILO a three-year, $5 million cooperative agreement to implement the project.“Ensuring union votes in Mexico are free and fair is foundational to securing independent, democratic unions that can bargain in good faith for better wages and working conditions,” said Deputy Undersecretary for International Affairs Thea Lee. “This unique project will bring the International Labor Organization –recognized as the global authority on freedom of association and trusted as an impartial observer – into workplace votes to certify that they are conducted fairly and lawfully.”Today’s launch event was organized by the ILO and hosted by the government of Mexico. As part of the event, a tripartite roundtable was held with representatives from government and employer and worker organizations who discussed the importance of freedom of association and collective bargaining in creating and sustaining positive industrial relations. In a nod to a defining moment in USMCA enforcement, the event was held near Silao where, in August 2021, the ILO served as the international observer during a vote to confirm a collective bargaining agreement at a General Motors plant. That vote was part of an unprecedented comprehensive plan to remediate a past denial of the rights of freedom of association and collective bargaining for workers at the same facility under the USMCA.Learn more about the department’s international work.

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