The AFL-CIO, the largest federation of unions in the United States, submitted a request for the US government to file the first labor complaint against Mexico under the new North American trade agreement, USMCA, the union reported.
The reasoning is that workers at the Tridonex auto-parts plant, in Matamoros, are not being allowed to disassociate themselves from the union to which they are currently affiliated, belonging to the CTM [Confederation of Mexican Workers], to join a different one represented by lawyer Susana Prieto.
She stated that around 600 of her followers at Tridonex were fired last year, in an action that some workers described as retaliation for their efforts to change unions.
Under the USMCA’s “Rapid Response Labor Mechanism”, companies in Mexico and in the United States may face tariffs and other sanctions for failing to guarantee workers’ rights, such as freedom of association.
The petition by the AFL-CIO marks the first time in which the mechanism to enforce work conditions under the USMCA has been put in practice and it could be the beginning of a series of complaints under the agreement, experts warned.
“Deriving from the pressure and monitoring by the American government, we will have labor conflicts like never before, it is part of the re-arrangements and many unions will disappear because they have not understood the new dynamics and companies will have to re-align their strategies”, said Oscar de la Vega, labor lawyer at the D&M Firm.
I believe that the United States will place special emphasis on labor conditions existing in industrial branches such as aerospace, products and components, auto-parts, auto assemblers, cosmetics, industrial bakeries, steel and aluminum, glass, cement and plastics.
This is the first step of something that was known that would happen, particularly in the automotive sector, said Germán de la Garza, expert on labor matters at Deloitte México.
“It is very likely that, in the next few months, we will start to see an increase of this type of complaints in other sectors”, he added.
For Benjamin Davis, director of International Affairs at United Steelworkers, this action shows the commitment of American unions to improve working conditions in Mexico and thus avoid unfair competition for American companies.
“I believe that it is very important, it reflects the commitment of US unions to fight for labor rights and better salaries in Mexico, following the path of the reforms promoted by the Mexican government.
“While a Mexican worker earns only 10 percent of what her counterpart in the United States does and does not have the right to democratically elect her union, there cannot be justice in the North American labor market”, he pointed out.