The United States filed its first labor complaint with Mexico under the U.S.-Mexico-Canada trade agreement on Wednesday after the alleged destruction of ballots for a union election at a General Motors plant in northern Mexico’s city of Silao last April.
The U.S. Trade Representative invoked the “rapid response” mechanism under the USMCA. This mechanism allows a delegated panel to investigate whether labor laws allowing workers to choose their union and vote on contracts and leadership are being enforced in Mexico.
“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,” said Katherine Tai, U.S. Trade Representative.
One specific union election triggered the said complaint where an old-guard union was caught allegedly destroying “no” votes and replacing them with “yes” votes.
Inspectors from the Labor Department said they “discovered that at the offices where the union itself had the ballot boxes, ballots that were part of the vote had been destroyed, making it impossible to continue with the vote.”
The election is supposed to decide whether workers at the plant would still recognize the union that has long controlled the plant’s labor contract.