WASHINGTON – The U.S. and Mexico announced today an agreement on a course of remediation to address a second petition filed under the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement’s Rapid Response Labor Mechanism at the VU Manufacturas auto parts facility in Piedras Negras, Coahuila. Implementation of the agreement seeks to remedy denial of freedom of association rights that undermined the majority union’s ability to represent workers in collective bargaining negotiations and their right to strike.
The agreement represents yet another U.S.-Mexico joint effort to ensure that workers in Mexico can freely exercise their labor rights, including protections obtained through prior Rapid Response Mechanism actions.
The agreement includes a commitment by VU to create a climate that promotes respect for workers’ choice of union representation and is free of interference in union activities to the detriment of the most representative union. The commitment includes imposition of sanctions against company employees responsible for undermining workers’ rights, including dismissals, and cooperation with labor authorities to investigate and sanction violations of freedom of association and collective bargaining rights under Mexican law.
The government of Mexico agreed to this course of remediation after its review of the petition in response to the U.S request for review under the Rapid Response Mechanism, which found sufficient and credible evidence of a denial of rights at the VU facility. Based on its findings, the government of Mexico committed to provide in-person trainings to all workers, supervisors and human resources personnel at the facility on the rights of unions during collective bargaining negotiations and the exercise of the union’s right to strike. The government will also conduct appropriate remediation to hold VU responsible for violating workers’ freedom of association and collective bargaining rights.
The agreement reflects a strong commitment from the company and the government of Mexico that the denial of freedom of association and collective bargaining rights will be properly remedied. The course of remediation will be timebound to provide sufficient time to monitor implementation and support the workers’ ability to freely exercise their rights.
“The Biden-Harris administration remains steadfast in addressing denials of labor rights under the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement and to achieving sustainable freedom of association and collective bargaining rights across Mexico,” said Deputy Undersecretary for International Labor Affairs Thea Lee. “We commend the government of Mexico for committing to take action to remedy a denial of workers’ rights at VU, including taking the important step of initiating sanctions proceedings to deter future violations. This will send a strong message beyond this facility.”
“Through concrete, measurable commitments, this course of remediation seeks to remedy serious violations of workers’ rights at the VU Manufacturas facility,” said U.S. Trade Representative Ambassador Katherine Tai. “The harm from these violations is ongoing, which is why the United States will be monitoring implementation of the plan closely. I want to thank the Government of Mexico for its commitment to workers’ rights and to bringing this facility into compliance with the labor law.”
The petition that led to this agreement was filed on Dec. 29, 2022, by the Liga Sindical Obrera Mexicana, a Mexican union, and the Comité Fronterizo de Obreras, a Mexican labor rights organization. The two groups alleged that VU continued to illegally discriminate against the fairly elected representative union, LSOM, by favoring another union that also seeks to represent workers at the facility. This included allegations that the facility denied access rights to LSOM organizers in violation of Mexican law and allowed members of the company union to intimidate and threaten LSOM members.
The USMCA Rapid Response Mechanism is the first of its kind and allows the United States to take enforcement action based on the labor situation at an individual factory in Mexico if such facility fails to comply with domestic freedom of association and collective bargaining laws.
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