U.S. request to Mexico triggers initial application of USMCA labor mechanism; customs implications for imports

The U.S. request is the first time any country has invoked the “rapid response labor mechanism.”

“Rapid response labor mechanism” as contained in the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement

The Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) today issued a release announcing that the United States has asked Mexico to review whether workers at a U.S. automotive manufacturer’s facility in Mexico are being denied the right of free association and collective bargaining.

The U.S. request is the first time any country has invoked the “rapid response labor mechanism” as contained in the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA). 

Summary

Under the USMCA, Mexico must have in place specific laws necessary for the effective recognition of the right to collective bargaining. The rapid response labor mechanism provides for expedited enforcement of collective bargaining and free association rights at the facility level so that:

  • The first step is for the United States to submit a request that Mexico review whether there is a denial of rights and then to attempt to remediate any issues it finds. 
  • If the United States and Mexico are subsequently unable to agree that the issue has been resolved, the United States may request the establishment of a rapid response labor panel to determine whether there has been a denial of collective bargaining rights.

The USTR and the U.S. Labor Department received information appearing to indicate violations of workers’ rights at the manufacturer’s facility in Silao (in the Mexican state of Guanajuato) in connection with a recent worker vote, organized by the existing union, to approve a collective bargaining agreement. 

The U.S. Treasury Secretary in the meantime has been directed to suspend the final settlement of customs accounts related to entries of goods from the company’s Silao facility.


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Amie Ahanchian
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