By Ambassador Jayme White and General Counsel Greta Peisch
For far too long, workers have been mistreated by employers who try to reduce costs, loosen labor rights, and create unsafe conditions for their employees. One of the core tenets of the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) is to stop this race to the bottom and stand up for labor rights by enabling fair competition that helps, not hurts, workers across North America.
The USMCA includes a first-of-its-kind Facility-Specific Rapid Response Labor Mechanism (RRM) between the United States and Mexico. This dispute settlement mechanism expedites enforcement and defends workers’ rights to freedom of association and collective bargaining for wages, hours, and working conditions at their places of work. The Biden-Harris Administration believes that trade must benefit workers, raise labor standards, and drive a ‘race to the top.’
This record of success under the Biden Administration is delivering significant wins for workers, in concrete and tangible ways:
- At the Teksid auto parts factory in Frontera, Mexico, workers fought for almost a decade to have their lawfully elected independent union, Los Mineros, recognized by management, as well as reinstatement for colleagues fired in retaliation for union activities. Los Mineros, along with the AFL-CIO and the United Auto Workers, raised the issue with the Administration, which in turn invoked the RRM. Through conciliation sessions led by the Government of Mexico, Teksid finally paid years of previously-owed union dues, provided reinstatement and backpay for 36 workers, and recognized Los Mineros as the workers' bargaining representative.
- At a Panasonic facility in Reynosa, Mexico, the RRM set the stage for a free and fair election for workers to select an independent union, which then held CBA negotiations that resulted in substantial wage increases, and reinstatement with backpay for dismissed workers.
- At Mex Mode, in Puebla, Mexico, the United States worked with Mexico prior to invoking the RRM, and Mexico quickly addressed issues we identified at the facility. As a result, the company issued a neutrality statement, recognized the independent union, and provided access to the facility for organizing and representational activities, actions the independent union called “historic.”
- After the United States invoked the RRM for the first time, at a General Motors facility in Silao, Mexico, workers selected new union representation that negotiated a collective bargaining agreement that increased wages.
These are just a few examples, and they are only the beginning. As part of the Biden-Harris Administration’s new approach to trade policy, we are putting workers at the center of policy development. We are enforcing our existing trade agreements like the USMCA to ensure they help workers – even those that live beyond our border.
Our success cannot solely be judged by how much we trade. Trade must also help support good-paying jobs, respect labor rights, and ensure safe conditions for our workers and those of our trading partners. The RRM is a critical tool to fulfilling that goal. We will continue to utilize this innovative mechanism to enforce USMCA commitments, advance workers’ rights, and create a more resilient and competitive North American economy.