A Mexican auto parts supplier became the first company to receive a labor violation complaint under the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) on Monday.
The complaint against the Tridonex auto parts factory in Matamoros, Mexico, just across the border from Brownsville, Texas, alleges workers were denied independent union representation in violation of the trade pact, which replaced the North American Free Trade Agreement in July 2020.
The AFL-CIO, the largest U.S. labor federation, filed the petition with the U.S. government alleging the plant’s workers have not been allowed to organize with an independent union, Sindicato Nacional Independiente de Trabajadores de Industrias y de Servicios Movimiento 20/32 (SNITIS), in place of a company-controlled union or ratify a collective bargaining agreement.
“For two years, workers at Tridonex have been harassed and fired for trying to organize with SNITIS, an independent Mexican union of their choice, to replace a corrupt ‘protection’ union,” AFL-CIO’s petition states.
The petition was backed by the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) and (SNITIS 20/32), along with U.S. nonprofit Public Citizen’s Global Trade Watch.
In recent years, maquiladora industry workers in Matamoros have demanded a 20% raise and a one time bonus of 32,000 pesos ($1,607), calling themselves the “20/32 movement.”
The Tridonex plant, which has around 4,000 workers, refits secondhand car parts for sale in the U.S. and Canada. Most of the workers earn between $176.72 to $212.06 pesos ($8.82-$10.64) a day, according to SNITIS. Tridonex is a subsidiary of Philadelphia-based Cardone Industries.
In a statement, Cardone said, “We do not believe that the allegations in the complaint are accurate and welcome a full inquiry so that the facts can be disclosed. We fully support our Tridonex workers being represented by a union and are committed to compliance with all applicable labor laws and regulations. We will be transparent in addressing requests for information and proactive in addressing any concerns identified through the process.”
“We are committed to leading labor practices, fostering constructive relationships with employees, and respecting the universal principle of freedom of association and the right to collective bargaining,” Cardone said.
The AFL-CIO petition was filed under the USMCA’s rapid response mechanism, which focuses on the denial of specific labor rights. Enforcement efforts can result in additional tariffs or other import restrictions.
The petition was sent to the U.S. Office of Trade and Labor Affairs, which has 30 days to review the claim and determine whether to bring the case to the Mexican government for further review.
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