Features, Law and Politics, National

Unions File NAFTA Complaint About Mexican Labor Bill

January 28, 2018

By Steve Wishnia and Neal Tepel

MONTREAL, Quebec—The AFL-CIO and Mexico’s leading labor federation filed a formal complaint against Mexico with the U.S. Labor Department Jan. 25, charging that amendments proposed to Mexico’s labor law would violate the North American Free Trade Agreement’s labor standards. The legislation, introduced in December by members of the governing Institutional Revolutionary Party, would eliminate restrictions on employers’ use of subcontractors. The complaint by the AFL-CIO and Mexico’s Unión Nacional de Trabajadores (National Workers Union) says that “brazenly violates the central obligations of the NAALC—namely to ‘provide high labor standards’ and to ‘strive to improve those standards,’” referring to the North American Agreement on Labor Cooperation attached to NAFTA. The complaint, filed as U.S., Canadian, and Mexican officials met in Montreal to discuss modifications to NAFTA, is intended to influence them to beef up its weak labor standards, such as allowing Mexican factories to have laxer health and safety regulations. AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka said that Mexico’s economy of low wages and minimal labor rights keeps salaries depressed in all three nations. Meanwhile, Canada’s negotiators proposed last year that the U.S. eliminate so-called “right-to-work” state laws, on the grounds that they artificially drive down wages. Read more

January 28, 2018

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