WASHINGTON – The United States and Mexico today announced the resolution to a United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement’s (USMCA) Rapid Response Labor Mechanism (RRM) petition related to the Manufacturas VU facility in Piedras Negras, State of Coahuila, where workers were previously denied their right of free association and collective bargaining. Today’s announcement marks the fifth time the United States has successfully used the RRM to benefit workers and follows the request for review that the United States sent to Mexico on July 21, 2022.
“Rapidly resolving this matter again demonstrates the Biden-Harris Administration’s success putting trade policy into action,” said Ambassador Katherine Tai. “The steps taken by the United States and Mexico to promote workers’ rights and workplace democracy reflect our shared commitment to ensure that workers are able to organize freely and support the union of their choice. I commend the Government of Mexico for helping to facilitate a prompt conclusion to the important concerns raised by Mexican workers.”
“Workers at Manufacturas VU Auto Components facility now have a union – chosen through a fair election – with whom they are consulting as they prepare for negotiations for their first collective bargaining agreement,” said Secretary of Labor Marty Walsh. “The Department of Labor commends the government of Mexico’s efforts and we look forward to continuing our collaboration to promote respect for workers’ freedom of association and collective bargaining rights.”
The Government of Mexico conducted a review in response to the request and took actions as a result of that review, including a supervised union representation election, in which VU workers voted in favor of an independent Mexican union, La Liga Sindical Obrera Mexicana (LSOM). LSOM will be the first union to represent workers at the facility for purposes of collective bargaining.
Prior to the vote, and during the period of review, the Government of Mexico educated workers on the voting process and its implications, including by posting informational materials at the facility, and provided training to VU human resources and supervisory personnel. The Government of Mexico also facilitated a written commitment from the employer to remain neutral in the vote, which the employer then communicated to workers at the facility. Officials from Mexico’s Federal Center for Conciliation and Labor Registration (Federal Center) conducted site visits in the weeks leading up to the vote in order to investigate allegations of misconduct and oversaw the vote, which took place at the facility on August 31, 2022.
At the request of the Government of Mexico, officials from the International Labor Organization and Mexico’s National Electoral Institute served as election-day observers. On September 9, 2022, the Federal Center issued LSOM a certificate of representation, which authorizes LSOM to bargain collectively on behalf of VU workers.
In addition, the Government of Mexico will conduct further inspections at the facility to monitor the situation and respond appropriately to any allegations raised.
The United States Trade Representative and the Secretary of Labor co-chair the Interagency Labor Committee for Monitoring and Enforcement (ILC). On June 21, 2022, LSOM, an independent Mexican union, and Comité Fronterizo de Obreras, a labor organization, filed with the ILC a USMCA RRM petition. The petition alleged that workers at the VU automotive components facility in Piedras Negras were being denied the right of free association and collective bargaining.
The ILC reviews RRM petitions and accompanying information that it receives within 30 days. The ILC determined, based on its review of the petition, that there was sufficient, credible evidence of a denial of rights enabling the good faith invocation of enforcement mechanisms. The United States Trade Representative submitted a request to Mexico to review the matter. The Government of Mexico found that the denial of rights at the facility had been resolved during the review period.
As a result of the above actions taken to resolve the action, the United States agrees that there is no ongoing denial of rights related to the request for review that the United States sent to Mexico. Read Ambassador Tai’s letterdirecting the Secretary of the Treasury to resume liquidation of entries of goods from the Manufacturas VU facility.