Today, the U.S. Trade Representative is announcing an agreement with Mexico for a comprehensive remediation plan to address a denial of workers’ right of free association and collective bargaining that Mexico found to have occurred for workers at a General Motors facility in Silao, Mexico, in connection with a worker vote, organized by the existing union, to approve or reject the workers’ collective bargaining agreement.
USTR launched this action on May 12th in response to information indicating serious violations of workers’ rights in connection with a recent worker vote, organized by the existing union, on whether to approve their collective bargaining agreement. The Mexican labor authorities released a resolution outlining some of the same concerns.
This action shows the Biden-Harris Administration’s commitment to workers and a worker-centered trade policy. The United States’ worker-centered trade policy requires protecting workers’ rights, including ensuring American workers are not forced to compete against foreign workers who are deprived of their rights, including the right to organize and collectively bargain.
USTR is committed to taking aggressive and appropriate action, and using all available tools, to ensure that our trading partners cannot gain an unfair advantage by allowing workers to be exploited or disadvantaged.
In this action, USTR employed the USMCA to help protect collective bargaining rights in Mexico. It is not enough to have promises in a trade agreement --- effective action and diligent, continuing engagement are required. USTR’s action today not only helps workers in Mexico to exercise their rights, but also helps American workers by preventing trade from becoming a race to the bottom.
The United States will monitor the implementation of the remediation plan closely. If after the agreed-upon date for remediation, the U.S. determines that the Denial of Rights has not been remediated, the U.S. may decide to impose further remedies.
This remediation plan includes the following commitments:
- A new vote will be held by August 20, 2021, or else the CBA will be terminated and workers will retain their rights under the CBA.
- Mexico’s Labor Ministry (STPS) will oversee the vote, ensure that the voting area is secure, and ballots are safeguarded.
- STPS federal inspectors will be present at the facility, starting this week and through the vote, to ensure that the vote is free of intimidation and coercion.
- This vote will have more than 5 times the number of STPS federal inspectors that were present at the April vote.
- These inspectors will conduct random interviews of workers at the facility, on company-provided transportation, and at pick-up/drop-off sites for that transportation.
- The International Labor Organization will send international observers to the vote, and in the leadup to the vote, to help ensure that any irregularity is noted and documented.
- Mexico’s National Electoral Institute will send domestic observers to the vote to help ensure that any irregularity is noted and documented.
- Mexico will investigate and, as appropriate, will sanction anyone responsible for the conduct that led to the suspension of the April vote and any other violation of law related to that vote that occurred before the vote, at the vote, after the vote, or in the leadup to the August vote.
- STPS will disseminate to workers materials explaining their rights with respect to the vote and will ensure that any materials disseminated by the union or the company align with STPS’ materials.
- STPS will monitor an email address and will create and staff a hotline phone number with STPS inspectors to receive and respond to complaints from workers about the voting process.
- STPS and the Federal Center for Labor Conciliation and Registration (Center) will work to update the Center’s protocol for overseeing future legitimization votes to incorporate lessons learned from this situation, in order to strengthen the strengthen the ability of the Center to oversee such votes, investigate any violations that occur, including during and after voting, sanction those violations, and to develop comprehensive and transparent criteria for accrediting observers.
- General Motors will issue a statement of neutrality and zero-tolerance policy for retaliation.