WASHINGTON – A report released today under the North American Agreement on Labor Cooperation by the U.S. Department of Labor responds to a submission filed by U.S. and Mexican labor unions and worker advocacy groups that alleges that the Mexican government has failed to meet its obligations under the NAALC with respect to a large chain of Mexican retail stores.
Filed with the department’s Bureau of International Labor Affairs by the United Food & Commercial Workers Local 770; the Frente Auténtico del Trabajo; the Los Angeles Alliance for a New Economy; and the Project on Organizing, Development, Education, and Research – with research assistance from Change to Win – the submission focuses on Chedraui retail stores. It alleges that the government of Mexico failed to enforce its labor laws effectively with respect to freedom of association and collective bargaining, specifically citing concerns about so-called “protection contracts” (referring, generally, to collective bargaining agreements negotiated through unions that do not represent covered workers, without worker support or knowledge).
The submission also alleges that the government of Mexico failed to effectively enforce its labor laws with respect to minimum employment standards, specifically with respect to the stores’ use of volunteers as part a government outreach program, and employment and workplace discrimination, specifically with respect to pregnancy discrimination.
The department published its report within 180 days of initiating review. It is the second issued under the department’s new streamlined process for timely review of labor submissions received under U.S. free trade agreements.
The report determines that there is insufficient evidence, at this time, to support specific conclusions related to the Mexican government’s application of labor laws at Chedraui stores, in light of information in the submission and additional information obtained during the review. Nonetheless, the report discusses in detail the department’s longstanding, serious concerns regarding issues raised in the submission. These concerns include, in particular, protection contracts and the primary factors that facilitate them, such as structural bias in the Conciliation and Arbitration Boards that administer labor justice in Mexico.
The report notes that constitutional and legislative reforms pending in Mexico’s Congress would go a long way towards addressing these concerns. The department urges expeditious passage and implementation of the reforms and will continue to monitor and engage with the Mexican government on these and other issues in the submission.
For more information about ILAB’s work in Mexico, visit https://www.dol.gov/ilab/map/countries/mexico.htm