Mexico, US Concludes VU Manufacturing Complaint in Fifth USMCA Labor Investigation

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Flags of Mexico, the United States and Canada are pictured at a security booth at the Zaragoza-Ysleta border crossing bridge in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, January 16, 2020. REUTERS/Jose Luis Gonzalez

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MEXICO CITY (Reuters) – Mexico and the United States have settled the latest in a series of labor grievances under a regional trade deal, saying on Wednesday workers at auto parts plant VU Manufacturing in northern Mexico could vote for the association of their choice.

US officials in July called for an investigation under the 2020 United States-Mexico-Canada (USMCA) agreement, the fifth such case aimed at improving working conditions in Mexico, after activists claimed the company had interfered in workers’ efforts to choose their union. Continue reading

Michigan-based VU Manufacturing, whose factory in the Mexican border town of Piedras Negras makes auto interior parts like armrests and door pads, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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US labor officials said the Mexican government has trained workers and managers to ensure fair union elections on August 31, including asking the company to issue a statement vowing to remain neutral.

The Mexican government also requested election observers from the Mexican Electoral Institute and the United Nations-backed International Labor Organization.

The workers eventually elected an independent union, La Liga Sindical Obrera Mexicana, which will negotiate the plant’s first collective bargaining agreement, which includes about 400 people.

“Workers at the Manufacturas VU Auto Components plant now have a union – selected by a fair election – to consult with as they prepare to negotiate,” US Secretary of Labor Marty Walsh said in a statement.

Their rights to freedom of association and collective bargaining have previously been denied, the statement added.

Mexico’s economy and labor ministries said the peaceful vote ensured workers could vote for the group they felt best represented their interests and officials would continue to monitor workers’ rights at the factory.

Previous USMCA labor grievances have prompted probings at Mexican plants owned by companies including automakers General Motors and Stellantis.

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Reporting by Daina Beth Solomon; Edited by Anthony Esposito, Jonathan Oatis and Josie Kao

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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