WASHINGTON – United States Trade Representative Katherine Tai and Secretary of Labor Marty Walsh today released the following statements after workers at a Saint Gobain facility in Cuautla, Mexico elected a new, independent union to represent them in collective bargaining agreement negotiations. This vote comes after the United States received a Rapid Response Mechanism (RRM) petition under the United States – Mexico – Canada Agreement (USMCA).
This is the sixth time an independent union has won a representational vote in connection with the USMCA RRM, demonstrating the Agreement’s durability and success in advancing workers’ rights beyond the United States.
“This resolution is another historic win for workers, who will now be represented by the union of their choice as they negotiate better working conditions,” said Ambassador Katherine Tai. “Through the USMCA, we are strengthening labor standards across North America, which creates a race to the top in trade and can help us deliver economically meaningful benefits to workers – including those that live beyond our border.”
"The workers of Saint Gobain have freely chosen an independent democratic union through a fair election and will now have the opportunity to bargain collectively for better wages and working conditions,” said U.S. Secretary of Labor Marty Walsh. “This is a win for workers and union democracy, and yet another example of how labor protections in the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement and Mexico's labor reforms are delivering meaningful change for workers."
The United States government spoke with dozens of workers and collaborated with the Government of Mexico and the facility to secure additional actions, including the company issuing a statement recognizing the independent union’s bargaining rights and noting a zero-tolerance policy regarding reprisals. Additionally, the company has posted materials about workers’ rights and set up a complaint email address. The United States will continue to work with the Government of Mexico and closely monitor events at the facility to help ensure that good faith collective bargaining occurs and that workers are free to exercise their rights in a climate that is free from intimidation, retaliation, and coercion.
On September 27, 2022, the AFL-CIO, United Steelworkers, and Sindicato Independiente de las y los Trabajadores Libres y Democráticos de Saint Gobain México, a Mexican union, filed a USMCA RRM petition regarding the Saint Gobain México, S.A. de C.V. Nicolas Bravo 8, a facility in Cuautla, Mexico that exports automotive glass. The petition contained troubling allegations regarding denials of workers’ rights of free association and collective bargaining pertaining to a collective bargaining agreement approval vote in July 2022 and an upcoming vote to determine which union would represent the workers in collective bargaining agreement negotiations. During the United States’ review of the matter, the Mexican union petitioners won the representational vote at the facility and the situation at the facility improved for workers.
Following these developments, while the United States determined that any past denial of rights with respect to the votes no longer existed, the United States will continue to monitor progress at the facility closely.
The Government of Mexico remained engaged on this issue, helped run a fair union election, and worked with the company to address immediate issues. The Government of Mexico will continue to monitor the situation moving forward. As a result, the United States determined that further immediate action on the petition is not needed at this time.