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Office of Trade and Labor Affairs (OTLA)

New & Noteworthy

April 7, 2011: Colombia Action Plan Related to Labor Rights

The United States-Colombia Trade Promotion Agreement (Agreement) includes strong protections for workers’ rights based on the May 10, 2007 bipartisan Congressional-Executive agreement to incorporate high labor standards into America’s trade agreements. The Agreement includes obligations for Colombia to protect fundamental labor rights as well as to effectively enforce existing labor laws, which will enable American workers and businesses to compete on a level playing field.

In addition, President Obama insisted that a number of serious and immediate labor concerns be addressed before he would send the Agreement to Congress. These concerns include violence against Colombian labor union members; inadequate efforts to bring perpetrators of murders of such persons to justice; and insufficient protection of workers’ rights in Colombia. As a result, the U.S. and Colombian governments have agreed to an ambitious and comprehensive Action Plan that includes major, swift and concrete steps the Colombian government will take to address outstanding labor concerns.


December 15, 2010: US Department of Labor awards $6.5 million to promote worker rights internationally

The U.S. Department of Labor announced a grant award of more than $5.3 million to the International Labor Organization to support the global Better Work program by implementing projects in Bangladesh and continuing projects in Cambodia and Vietnam, a $640,000 grant award to the International Labor Organization to implement a project on fundamental rights, labor law and administration reform in the Republic of Maldives, and a $500,000 grant award to the Asia Foundation to implement a project to increased knowledge and awareness of the labor code and basic worker rights in Afghanistan.


July 30, 2010: Labor Consultations with Guatemala

U.S. Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis today announced that the U.S. government has requested labor consultations with the Government of Guatemala under the Dominican Republic-Central America-United States Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA-DR). This is the first time that the United States has requested consultations under the labor chapter of a U.S. free trade agreement.


December 21, 2006: The Bureau of International Labor Affairs, of the U.S. Department of Labor, issued a Federal Register Notice Specifying Reassignment of Functions and Procedural Guidelines Pertaining to Public Submissions

On December 21, 2006 U.S. Department of Labor issued a Federal Register Notice which reassigned the functions of the Division of Trade Agreement Administration and Technical Cooperation (TAATC) of the Bureau of International Labor Affairs (ILAB) to the Office of Trade and Labor Affairs in ILAB.  Additionally, the Notice specified procedural guidelines pertaining to public submissions filed under the North American Agreement on Labor Cooperation and the labor provisions of Free Trade Agreements currently in force as well as other Free Trade Agreements to which the United States may become a party.

This Notice supersedes the Revised Notice of Establishment and Procedural Guidelines published on April 7, 1994 and the Notice of Renaming the National Administrative Office as the Division of Trade Agreement Administration and Technical Cooperation; Designation of the Office as the Contact Point for Labor Provisions of Free Trade Agreements; and Request for Comments on Procedural Guidelines published on December 23, 2004.

  • View the Federal Register Notice [Text] [PDF]

August 10-11, 2006: II Regional Train the Trainer Seminar - Northwest Region, Seattle

The Second Regional Train the Trainer Seminar, held in Seattle August 10-11, 2006, is part of a series of regional seminars resulting from the Joint Declaration on Migrant Workers signed by Secretary Elaine Chao and Secretary Luis Ernesto Derbez of Mexico’s Secretariat of Foreign Relations (SRE) in 2004. The objective of the Seminar was to educate the participants on the rights of Mexican migrant workers under U.S. laws and regulations administered by the U.S. Department of Labor. The Seminar provided an opportunity for U.S. and Mexican officials to review progress made as part of the U.S.-Mexico Joint Declaration and Letters of Agreement on migrant workers in the United States.

Representatives from the Mexican Consulates in San Francisco, Portland, Los Angeles, and Seattle attended. The Consul General from Peru also attended. The U.S. Department of Labor was represented by the Office of Trade Agreement Implementation (OTAI), Regional Administrators of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and the Wage and Hour Division (WHD). The Washington State Department of Labor and Industries attended as well. The Seminar was organized by the DOL/SRE and Mexico’s Consulate in Seattle.


July 7, 2006: U.S. NAO Submission No. 2005-02 (Mexican Pilots), concerning allegations of sustained and recurring actions of non-enforcement of labor law by the Mexican government, was rejected for review

U.S. NAO Submission No. 2005-02 (Pilots), concerning allegations of sustained and recurring actions of non-enforcement of labor law by the Mexican government, was rejected for review by the Department of Labor's Office of Trade Agreement Implementation (OTAI) on July 7, 2006. In OTAI's view the allegations that the government of Mexico prevented the Mexican Airline Pilots Association (ASPA) from establishing a craft Union at Aviacsa Airlines and allowing for the improper dismissal of member pilots based on their union organizing activities were not adequately substantiated by the submitters. Accordingly, it was determined that a review of the submission would not further the objectives of the NAALC.


November 7, 2005: U.S. NAO Submission No. 2005-03, concerning allegations of worker rights violations in Hidalgo, was filed

On October 14, 2005, U.S. NAO Submission #2005-03 was filed by The Progressive Union of Workers of the Textile Industry, the Manufacturing, Cutting and Confection of Fabric and Garments in General and Related and Similar Industries in the Mexican Republic, a member of the "Vanguardia Obrera" Workers Federation of the Revolutionary Confederation of Workers and Peasants (FTVO-CROC), with the support of the U.S. Labor Education in the Americas Project, and the Washington Office on Latin America under the NAALC concerning the enforcement of labor laws by the Government of Mexico. The submission focuses on events at a textile plant operated by Rubie's de Mexico, S. de R.L. de C.V., in the municipality of Tepeji del Rio, State of Hidalgo, Mexico.

The submitters allege that the Government of Mexico has failed to fulfill its obligations under the NAALC to effectively enforce its labor law under Article 3 in connection with freedom of association and protection of the right to organize, the right to bargain collectively, the right to strike, prohibition of forced labor, labor protections for children and young persons, minimum employment standards, elimination of employment discrimination, prevention of occupational injuries and illnesses, and compensation in cases of occupational injuries and illnesses, and under Article 5 with respect to fair, equitable and transparent labor tribunal proceedings.

The submission focuses on the submitter's attempts to organize a union at a plant operated by Rubie's de Mexico, S. de R.L. de C.V., in the municipality of Tepeji del Rio, State of Hidalgo, alleging that Mexico's Federal Conciliation and Arbitration Board No. 6 and Local Conciliation and Arbitration Board No. 51 failed to provide workers with fair, equitable and transparent proceedings to enforce their right to form a union to represent the workers in collective bargaining. Allegations also include failure on the part of state and federal authorities to provide effective onsite inspections and remedies for labor law violations concerning forced labor, minimum wage, overtime pay, prevention of discrimination, occupational safety and health, and child labor. Finally, the submitters assert that the actions and/or inaction by the Government of Mexico represent a pattern of non-enforcement of its labor laws. The submission was accepted for review on January 6, 2006.

  • View the Federal Register Notice [Text] [PDF]

February 17, 2005: U.S. NAO Submission (Labor Law Reform)

After consideration of this submission, the U.S. OTAI determined that a review would not further the objectives of the NAALC and, on February 21, 2006, declined to accept it for review.