Unions Say Mexican Auto-Parts Maker Is Violating Trade Deal -- Update
By Yuka Hayashi
WASHINGTON -- U.S. and Mexican labor groups filed a complaint
against a Mexican auto-parts manufacturer, alleging that it
violated the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement by suppressing its
workers' rights to unionize.
The complaint, filed Monday with the U.S. government, is the
first case that seeks to use a new labor-dispute provision of the
USMCA trade agreement signed into law last year by former President
Donald Trump with bipartisan support.
The complaint provides an early test of President Biden's pledge
to press for strict adherence to labor and environmental rules
under existing trade agreements.
A spokesman for the U.S. Trade Representative's office, which
will be one of the agencies reviewing the complaint, said the
agency would carefully review it. Mexico's Economy Ministry said it
hadn't been notified of the complaint and had no comment.
The complaint from the labor groups led by AFL-CIO alleges that
Tridonex, an auto-parts factory located in the Mexican state of
Tamaulipas, "harassed and fired" workers who were trying to
organize with a Mexican labor group seeking to improve wages and
A lawyer representing the workers, Susana Prieto, was jailed for
a month by the local officials before agreeing to a ban on
appearing in labor court, the complainants said.
Tridonex, a subsidiary of Philadelphia-based Cardone Industries
Inc., manufactures auto parts exported to the U.S. market.
A Cardone spokesman said the company doesn't believe the
allegations in the complaint are accurate and would welcome a full
"We fully support our Tridonex workers being represented by a
union and are committed to compliance with all applicable labor
laws and regulations," he said.
AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka said the alleged harassment was
"a textbook violation of the labor laws Mexico has pledged to
Other complainants were the Service Employees International
Union (SEIU), Public Citizen and SNITIS -- the Sindicato Nacional
Independiente de Trabajadores de Industrias y de Servicios
U.S. union leaders were among those pressing for tougher
labor-enforcement provisions in the USMCA. They said that its
predecessor agreement, the North American Free Trade Agreement,
didn't have sufficient measures, leading to U.S. manufacturing job
The USMCA's provision for labor-dispute settlement, known as the
Rapid Response Labor Mechanism, makes it easier for labor unions to
bring complaints against specific facilities in Mexico.
Still, the dispute, which could result in a punitive step
against the company including the imposition of an import tariff by
the U.S., could take months to unfold.
A committee made up of officials from the trade representative's
office and the Commerce Department will first review the case. And
if it determines a violation has occurred, the U.S. will then
request the Mexican government to investigate the case and come up
with a remedy.
If the dispute isn't resolved then, an international panel of
experts will review under the provisions of USMCA.
U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai has said in recent weeks
she was eager to take steps to enforce the rules of the USMCA. As a
House congressional staffer for the Democrats, Ms. Tai played an
significant role in designing and negotiating the USMCA, which
replaced Nafta last year.
"My view is that we did our very best to put in the most
effective tools for enforcement that we know how," Ms. Tai said
during a Senate hearing last month. "I am not afraid to use the
She also noted that the U.S. has "a number of concerns" with
Mexico's performance of its commitments under USMCA.
Write to Yuka Hayashi at firstname.lastname@example.org
(END) Dow Jones Newswires
May 10, 2021 20:23 ET (00:23 GMT)
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