USTR Urges Mexican Government to Investigate Unique Fabricating
The US Trade Representative (USTR) has urged the Mexican government to investigate Unique Fabricating, an automotive company in Queretaro accused of denying its workers the right of free association and collective bargaining. The US government will begin talks with Mexico to investigate the plant over the allegations.
This is the seventh occasion in which the USMCA’s Rapid Response Labor Mechanism has been called. The most recent complaint was filed by the Industrial Union of Workers in the Transformation, Construction, Automotive, Agriculture, Plastics and General Industry, Commerce and Services, Similar, Annexes and Related Industries of the State of Queretaro. This union seeks to represent workers at Unique Fabricating and alleges that the Autonomous Federation of Independent Trade Unions (FASIM), which negotiated the current labor contract, receives benefits from the company.
“The USMCA's Rapid Response Labor Mechanism is an important tool to defend workers' rights and helps us advance a worker-centered trade policy around the world,” says US Ambassador Katherine Tai, who instructed the US Secretary of the Treasury to halt the liquidation of all outstanding entries of goods from the company’s facility.
The Interagency Labor Committee for Monitoring and Enforcement (ILC) received the complaint last Feb. 2, 2023. The ILC has a 30-day period to review petitions, at which the commission decides whether there is sufficient and credible evidence of a denial of worker’s rights. As a result, the USTR has requested Mexico to review whether employees at Unique Fabricating plant are being denied the right of free association and collective bargaining. Mexico has 10 days to agree to conduct a review and, if agreed, 45 days from the submission of the request to complete the review.
“We look forward to working with the Government of Mexico to promptly address these issues as we pursue a shared goal of raising labor standards and creating a race to the top in trade,” says Tai.
This the second time the Rapid Response Labor Mechanism is invoked during 2023, as the Members of the Democratic Union of the League of Mexican Workers called for a strike on Feb. 25 against VU Manufacturing for allegedly intervening on a new collective bargaining agreement regarding wage increases, reports MBN.
Pablo Franco, Legal Representative, League of Mexican Workers, claims that the workers have not received any proposals from the company other than the general minimum wage plus US$0.16. He further alleges that the company is attempting to use outdated labor laws to its advantage.