US Labor Deputy Secretary Visits SLP Auto Cluster
US Deputy Secretary of Labor Julie Su visited San Luis Potosi this week to meet with the main actors behind the state’s Labor Reform, which affects the area’s automotive cluster. Labor rights were the reason behind the first dispute among USMCA’s members.
The Labor Reform follows complaints by US President Joe Biden’s administration pertaining to the rights of workers at auto parts factories in Mexico, which were allegedly denied their labor rights under the new North American Trade deal of 2021. A second complaint in one month involved workers at a Tridonex auto parts factory in Matamoros, Tamaulipas. These workers had recently voted to elect a union but the complaint claimed that the workers were being denied collective bargaining and free association rights.
The Labor Reform, promoted by the Pan American Development Foundation (PADF), was signed by the Ministry of Economic Development (Sedeco), the Ministry of Labor and Social Security (Canacintra), the Automotive Cluster and the Association of Human Talent Management Executives of San Luis Potosi (Aderico). San Luis Potosi has over 200 auto parts manufacturers.
The reform aims to promote the generation, compilation, standardization, consultation and exchange of information related to compliance with labor rights, said Fernando Toriz, Representative, PADF. It will also support training in labor matters regarding union democracy and prevention of violence in the workplace.
Other attendants at the meeting included US Deputy Assistant Secretary Thea Lee, US Consul General in Monterrey Roger Rigaud and representatives of the Automotive Cluster of San Luis Potosi, the State of Mexico and Guanajuato, the National Network of Automotive Industry Clusters (Redcam), the National Auto Parts Industry (INA), the National Council of the Maquiladora and Import Manufacturing Industry (Index) and the Mexican Employers' Confederation (Coparmex).
Deputy Secretary Su recognized the advances made in the Labor Reform but emphasized the continued room for improvement. The progress made so far includes the legitimization of more than 3,600 companies through the Labor Reform, although many more are yet to be added.
“The amount of work that needs to be done is tremendous... There is a broad recognition that this is going to require resources to do right. We are... watching to see that the rest of the commitments also come through” said Secretary Su. Su also called for US companies to be exemplars for labor rights in the country, referencing Tridonex and General Motors plants facing scrutiny last year for workers’ rights violations.
“We hope there will be leadership also from American companies to support the USMCA commitments and to help create a culture in which there is broader recognition that what is good for workers is good for business,” Su said.