U.S. Asks Mexico to Investigate Labor Issues at G.M. Facility

The Biden administration announced yesterday that it was asking Mexico to review whether labor violations had occurred at a General Motors facility in the country, a significant step using a new labor enforcement tool in the revised North American trade deal, the New York Times reported. The administration is seeking the review under the novel “rapid response” mechanism in the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement, which replaced the North American Free Trade Agreement and took effect last summer. Under the mechanism, penalties can be brought against a specific factory for violating workers’ rights of free association and collective bargaining. The administration “received information appearing to indicate serious violations” of workers’ rights at the G.M. facility, in Silao in the central state of Guanajuato, in connection with a recent vote on their collective-bargaining agreement, the Office of the United States Trade Representative said. The vote was stopped last month amid accusations that the union at the facility had tampered with it, according to news reports. Mexico’s Labor Ministry said on Tuesday that it had found “serious irregularities” in the vote and ordered that it be held again within 30 days. The updated North American trade agreement required Mexico to revamp its labor system, and the country overhauled its labor laws in 2019. Sham collective-bargaining agreements known as protection contracts, which are reached with employer-dominated unions, are widespread in the country. Now unions are holding votes to affirm the existing agreements. Read more.