May 13, 2021 (UPI) — The Biden administration on Wednesday said it has asked Mexico to review whether labor violations took place at a General Motors facility.
In a statement, U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai said the United States asked Mexico to review whether workers at the facility were being denied the right of free association and collective bargaining.
Tai added it was the first time any nation had used the new Rapid Response Labor Mechanism established in the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement, which replaced the North American Free Trade Agreement last summer.
“Using USMCA to help protect freedom of association and collective bargaining rights in Mexico helps workers both at home and in Mexico, by stopping a race to the bottom,” she said. “It also supports Mexico’s efforts to implement its recent labor law reforms.”
The office of the U.S. Trade Representative said it had “received information appearing to indicate serious violations” of workers’ rights at the GM facility in Silao in the state of Guanajuato in connection with a recent worker vote organized by the existing union to approve their collective bargaining agreement.
“I commend the Mexican government for stepping in to suspend the vote when it became aware of voting irregularities,” Tai said. “Today’s action will compliment Mexico’s efforts to ensure that these workers can fully exercise their collective bargaining rights.”
Mexico’s government later said it would begin the review as requested, The New York Times reported.
“If there is mistreatment of workers within a company that exports to the United States, if fair wages aren’t being paid, if there is no democracy, we have to intervene and establish a government-to-government dialogue,” Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said.
GM issued a statement saying it believed it did not have any role in the alleged labor violations, adding it had asked a third-party firm to review the issue.
“General Motors supports the labor provisions of the USMCA, including the rapid response process,” the company said. “As a company, we respect and support the rights of our employees to make a personal choice about union representation and any collective bargaining on their behalf. GM condemns violations of labor rights and actions to restrict collective bargaining.”