For the first time in 2023, and the sixth time overall, the United States has sought Mexico’s review under the USMCA’s Rapid Response Labor Mechanism
WASHINGTON – United States Trade Representative Katherine Tai today announced that the United States has asked Mexico to review whether workers at the Manufacturas VU (VU) facility in Piedras Negras, State of Coahuila, are being denied the right of free association and collective bargaining. The request is the second time the United States has asked Mexico to review labor conditions at this facility in response to a petition, and the United States is committed to working with Mexico and the employer to ensure a meaningful and lasting outcome for workers. The request marks the sixth time the United States has formally invoked the Rapid Response Labor Mechanism (RRM) in the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA).
“A core tenet of the Biden Administration’s worker-centered trade policy is ensuring workers’ right to organize and collectively bargain without fear of retribution or intimidation. Despite this facility taking positive actions in 2022, some of the failures we identified previously appear to be recurring.” said Ambassador Katherine Tai. “The Rapid Response Labor Mechanism allows us to return to a facility to address new concerns, and we look forward to working with the Government of Mexico to promptly address this issue.”
“This is the second time in less than a year we’ve received allegations of workers’ rights violations by VU Manufacturing. The Biden Administration is unrelenting in its efforts to champion workers’ rights to organize and bargain collectively, here and abroad,” said U.S. Secretary of Labor Marty Walsh. “The Rapid Response Mechanism addresses real workplace issues and helps to get the parties to do what they should, which is to resolve issues in good faith at the bargaining table.”
In connection with the U.S. request, Ambassador Tai has directed the Secretary of the Treasury to suspend the final settlement of customs accounts related to entries of goods from the VU facility.
The United States Trade Representative and the Secretary of Labor co-chair the Interagency Labor Committee for Monitoring and Enforcement (ILC). On December 29, the ILC received a RRM petition from two Mexican labor organizations, La Liga Sindical Obrera Mexicana (LSOM) and Comité Fronterizo de Obreras (CFO). The petition alleged that workers at the VU automotive components facility in Piedras Negras are being denied the right of free association and collective bargaining. The ILC reviews RRM petitions that it receives, and the accompanying information, within 30 days.
The ILC determined that there is sufficient, credible evidence of a denial of rights enabling the good faith invocation of enforcement mechanisms. As a result, on January 30, the United States Trade Representative submitted a request to Mexico that Mexico review whether workers at the VU facility are being denied the right of free association and collective bargaining. From the date of the request, Mexico has ten days to agree to conduct a review and, if it agrees, 45 days to complete the review.
In June 2022, LSOM and CFO filed a RRM petition concerning the same facility. The United States Trade Representative requested review and Mexico found a denial of rights that had been remediated at the facility. Remediation included a free and fair vote for representation at the facility, which LSOM won. USTR announced the successful resolution of that petition on September 14, 2022.
Information about this request, review, and resolution can be found here. More information on USTR’s use of the Rapid Response Labor Mechanism can be found here.
A copy of the request for review can be found here.
A copy of the letter to the Secretary of the Treasury can be found here.