Magazine article SourceMex Economic News & Analysis on Mexico

Complaints about Treatment of Mexican Migrant Workers in Two U.S. States Could Test NAFTA Labor Provisions

Magazine article SourceMex Economic News & Analysis on Mexico

Complaints about Treatment of Mexican Migrant Workers in Two U.S. States Could Test NAFTA Labor Provisions

Article excerpt

Independent unions and advocates for migrant workers have filed complaints against US agricultural producers charging them with violating the rights of their employees. Both actions could have implications under the labor provisions in the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). The US, Mexico, and Canada negotiated the NAFTA Agreement on Labor Cooperation to promote improved labor conditions and strong enforcement of national labor laws in the three NAFTA countries. Most of the 11 labor complaints filed under NAFTA have been by US labor unions accusing Mexico of failing to enforce its labor laws. Two of the most recent cases were a complaint against maquiladora plants for discrimination against pregnant women and one against the state of Baja California for interfering with workers' rights to choose their own union (see SourceMex, 01/21/98 and 05/06/98).

Better conditions sought for Washington apple pickers One of the two recent actions filed on behalf of the Mexican migrant workers involved a direct complaint under the NAFTA labor provisions. The complaint, filed by a coalition of four labor groups led by the Union Nacional de Trabajadores (UNT), accused fruit growers in Washington state of depriving migrant laborers of their basic labor rights. It said Washington fruit growers have deprived 45,000 apple pickers of overtime pay, safe working conditions, and the ability to organize without fear of retaliation. The complaint is the second brought by Mexican unions under NAFTA. The previous case charged US telephone company Sprint with improperly closing a California plant during a unionization drive. Joining the UNT in the new complaint are the Frente Autentico de Trabajadores (FAT), the Frente Democratico de Trabajadores Agricolas, and a metalworkers union. Two US labor organizations, the International Brotherhood of Teamsters and the United Farm Workers (UFW), have provided support to the Mexican unions. The Teamsters is working to organize apple packers in the state, while the UFW is seeking to unionize the fruit pickers. "Wages of warehouse and field workers have fallen below poverty levels," said the complaint filed by the Mexican unions. "Workers face high exposure to dangerous chemicals, safety hazards, and unsanitary conditions in fields and warehouses." The complaint, filed with the NAFTA office in Mexico City, also accused the US Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) of failing to adequately enforce safety laws to protect apple workers from pesticides. The four Mexican unions and their two US counterparts urged President Ernesto Zedillo's administration to demand high-level consultations with the US to highlight the poor working conditions of migrant workers. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.