Industry News

USTR Requests Labor Review of Mexico's Largest Auto Assembly Plant

May 30, 2024
By: Hannah B. Kreinik

The United States Trade Representative (“USTR”) is seeking another Rapid Response Mechanism (“RRM”) review by the Mexican government against a Volkswagen automotive assembly plant, the largest of such facility in the country. The USTR has previously made 23 RRM requests, see the most recent of these requests here. The USTR makes clear, yet again, that labor rights are a priority under the USMCA especially in the automotive industry (see another RRM request against an auto plant here).

This most recent RRM request is against a Volkswagen facility located in Cuautlancingo, Mexico and includes allegations of a denial of rights for workers. Specifically, the request lists a violation of free association, collective bargaining, and a dismissal of employees due to union activities. However, this request also claims wrongdoing on part of a Mexican union, Sindicato Independiente de Trabajadores de la Industria Automotriz Similares y Conexos Volkswagen de México. The request asserts that the union was also participating in discrimination based on worker’s union activities, candidacy during elections, and prior union relationships. The Mexican government will have 10 days to respond to the USTR’s RRM request, and 45 days to investigate if it pursues the matter.

As the USTR continues to utilize the RRM under the USMCA to influence labor rights in the USMCA territories, importers should be aware of any labor issues in their supply chains. Factory workers should have access to union activities, be able to vote in union elections, and have freedom of association and collective bargaining opportunities. In addition, workers should not be concerned by repercussions for engaging in any of the listed activities. In the day and age of enforcement against human and labor rights violations, importers need to be prepared and vigilant of their product’s production lines.

The attorneys at Barnes, Richardson & Colburn are here to assist with potential RRM issues in your supply chain.