Mexico Looks for Answers on US Labor Rights Violations

November 1, 2007

The National Administrative Office (NAO) of Mexico's trade pact enforcement agency has issued an immediate call for answers to questions about progress in granting collective bargaining rights to public sector workers in North Carolina.

The call for answers from the Labor Ministry department is in reponse to a complaint filed by UE, UE Local 150, Mexico's Frente Autentico del Trabajo (FAT) and more than 50 North American labor organizations in October 2006 charging North Carolina with violating workers' rights protected under NAFTA's labor side agreement (see: Unions Charge North Carolina Violating NAFTA Labor Rules). Mexico's request represents the first step being taken in investigating the allegations. UE also filed the complaint with the U.S. government.
The complaint's 53 co-signer including dozens of labor unions in the U.S., Canada and Mexico, as well as two global union federations, the International Federation of Chemical, Energy, Mine and General Workers' Unions (ICEM) and Public Services International (PSI).

The North America Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) between the U.S., Mexico and Canada includes a side accord on labor conditions, the North American Agreement on Labor Cooperation (NAALC). Under this agreement, the government of each NAFTA country established an administrative office (NAO) to receive and investigate charges that essential labor rights are being violated in either of the other two NAFTA countries.

The NAO in Mexico has now sent a six-page query to the U.S. NAO. It asked for answers to questions related to a state law โ€“ North Carolina General Statute ยง 95-98 โ€“ that prohibits collective bargaining in the public sector, as well as a progress report by the U.S. NAO following a rebuke of the state law last March by the Freedom of Association Committee of the International Labor Organization (ILO), an agency of the United Nations (see: UN Labor Panel Finds U.S. in Violation, Calls for Repeal of NC Bargaining Ban).

Specifically, the Mexican government asks, "What have the governments of the United States and North Carolina done in respect to the recommendation of the Freedom of Association Committee?"

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