First USMCA Labor Complaint Concluded Successfully: USTRBy Antonio Gozain | Fri, 09/24/2021 - 13:57
The US announced the conclusion of the labor complaint that reviewed whether workers at a General Motors facility in Silao, Guanajuato, were being denied their freedom of association and collective bargaining rights. The US Trade Representative (USTR) Katherine Tai and Labor Minister Marty Walsh noted the “successful conclusion” of the first labor complaint under the Rapid Response Mechanism (RRM) of USMCA.
“Workers at a General Motors plant in Silao, Mexico, voted on the approval of their existing collective bargaining agreement under free and democratic conditions after the US requested a review on May 12, 2021,” said the USTR.
The course of remediation, announced on July 8, 2021, arose from a review requested by the US on May 12 under the RRM after it detected irregularities during April’s elections at the GM Silao plant. “I commend the Mexican government for stepping in to suspend the vote when it became aware of voting irregularities. Today’s action will complement Mexico’s efforts to ensure that these workers can fully exercise their collective bargaining rights,” said Tai back on May.
Complying with USMCA’s commitments during remediation, workers voted in August to reject their collective agreement. Inspectors from the Ministry of Labor and Social Welfare (STPS) supervised voting, while INE and International Labor Organization representatives worked as observers. STPS later confirmed the voting results.
“The action taken by the US and Mexico reflects our growing commitment to make trade work for workers. We will continue to collaborate closely with Mexico to strengthen the voting legitimization process and guarantee that workers in Mexico can access their rights to freedom of association and collective bargaining,” said Tai. The resolution of the first labor complaint under the USMCA “demonstrates the commitment of the Mexican government” to establish a model of labor based on “greater union, democracy and transparency,” said Tai.
In August, unionization grabbed the spotlight in the automotive industry, when Volkswagen de México and SITIAVW did 2021’s salary revision, which ended in a 5.5 percent salary increase. The agreement was reached in “an environment of challenges, where the automotive industry struggles to keep recovering after more than a year of the COVID-19 pandemic, and in the face of the semiconductor (chip) shortage,” said Volkswagen in a press release.
This week was also important for unions in Mexico, following CTM’s loss against the Autonomous Confederation of Workers and Employees (CATEM) in Nissan’s Aguascalientes plant. The voting represented an “inflection point” in Mexico’s labor democratic life, said to El Economista Pedro Haces, General Secretary of CATEM.