The Department of Labor and the US Trade Representative’s Office have discovered violations of labor rights at the Volkswagen plant, which is the largest auto assembly facility in Mexico.

The Interagency Labor Committee for Monitoring and Enforcement of the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) has requested a review by the Mexican government of the committee’s finding that workers’ rights were denied at a Volkswagen assembly plant in Puebla, Mexico. This request follows a petition filed on April 25, 2024, by 10 fired workers who allege that Volkswagen Mexico violated their freedom of association and collective bargaining rights at the plant, which is the largest and longest operating auto factory in the country.

The petition was filed under the USMCA’s Rapid Response Labor Mechanism, which allows for the investigation of alleged violations of workers’ rights. The petition specifically addresses the wrongful dismissal of 10 members of the outgoing leadership committee of the Independent Union of Workers of the Automotive, Similar and Related Industries Volkswagen de Mexico (Sindicato Independiente de Trabajadores de Industria Automotriz, Similares y Conexos Volkswagen de México) after a recent union election.

Deputy Undersecretary for International Affairs Thea Lee expressed concern over the alleged violations of freedom of association at the Volkswagen plant in Puebla, given its important role in Mexico’s economy and the nation’s independent trade union movement. She stated that retaliating against workers for their union activities goes against the basic and fundamental rights protected by the USMCA.

The Interagency Labor Committee, co-chaired by the Department of Labor and the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative, found sufficient and credible evidence of the workers’ rights being denied and initiated the review request. Ambassador Katherine Tai emphasized the United States’ commitment to ensuring that workers can engage in union activity without fear of reprisals. She also highlighted the positive impact of the Rapid Response Labor Mechanism, which has already benefited almost 30,000 workers and their families.

The Mexican government now has 10 days to decide whether to conduct a review and 45 days to investigate the claims and present its findings. The Volkswagen Mexico plant in Puebla employs over 6,000 workers and manufactures 2,300 vehicles per day, with a majority of those vehicles being exported to the U.S. in 2023. The U.S. government is dedicated to working with Mexico to address the issues at this facility and ensure that workers’ essential rights are upheld.  

Share This Article
Leave a comment