How to File a Complaint
Submissions under the Labor Provisions of Free Trade Agreements
Labor provisions in free trade agreements establish official processes for receiving complaints ("submissions") from interested organizations that believe a trading partner is not fulfilling the labor commitments it made. In the United States, the U.S. Department of Labor, specifically the Monitoring & Enforcement of Trade Agreements Division within ILAB's Office of Trade and Labor Affairs, receives and reviews submissions made under the labor chapters of our trade agreements.
Current Status: Review of Submissions
ILAB has accepted labor submissions for review concerning several countries. Our decision to review a public submission does not indicate any determination as to the validity or accuracy of the allegations contained in the submission. This will be addressed in the report that follows our detailed review and analysis.
Report Issued (9/2013)
Labor Consultations Held
(June 22-23, 2014)
In Dispute Settlement (since 9/2014)
Report Issued (2/2015)
Submission Under Review
Report Issued (3/2016)
On March 26, 2012, OTLA received a submission from the American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO) and 26 Honduran Federations, Trade Unions and Civil Society Organizations. The submitters allege that the Government of Honduras' actions or lack thereof denied workers their rights under Honduran law relating to freedom of association, the right to organize, child labor, the right to bargain collectively, and acceptable conditions of work in the Honduran apparel and auto manufacturing, agriculture and port sectors, in violation of the Labor Chapter of the Dominican Republic — Central America — United States Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA-DR). On May 14, 2012, OTLA accepted the submission for review, and on May 22 a Federal Register notice announced its decision. On November 2, 2012, OTLA determined that an extension of time for its review was warranted, and notified the public in a Federal Register notice that was published on November 7, 2012. The OTLA is now in the process of conducting its review of the submission to determine its findings on the allegations in the submission, which it will present in a public report to the Secretary of Labor.
- Read the 2012 Honduras Submission
- Read the decision to accept in the Federal Register (PDF)
- Read the OTLA Decision to Extend its Review in the Federal Register
On November 12, 2015, the United Food & Commercial Workers Local 770, the Frente Auténtico del Trabajo, the Los Angeles Alliance for a New Economy, and the Project on Organizing, Development, Education, and Research, provided a submission to OTLA, through Change to Win, alleging violations of the North American Agreement on Labor Cooperation (NAALC) by the Government of Mexico (GOM). U.S. Submission #2015-04 alleges that the GOM has failed to meet its obligations under the NAALC, including to effectively enforce its labor laws with respect to freedom of association, collective bargaining, discrimination, minimum labor standards, occupational safety and health, and workers’ compensation and to ensure that its labor law proceedings are fair, equitable, and transparent. On January 11, 2016, OTLA accepted the submission for review and issued a Federal Register notice on its decision. OTLA is now conducting its examination of the submission’s allegations as part of the process to determine its findings, which it will issue in a public report.
- Read the 2015 Submission (PDF)
On November 14, 2011, OTLA received a submission from the Mexican Union of Electrical Workers (Sindicato Mexicano de Electricistas, SME) and over 90 other organizations (including the AFL-CIO, the ITUC, and many grassroots organizations) under the North American Agreement on Labor Cooperation (NAALC). The submission alleges that the Government of Mexico (GOM) has failed to uphold its commitments under Articles 2 through 6 of the NAALC stemming from the GOM's actions or failure to take action following the issuance of a Presidential decree on October 10, 2009, dissolving the state-owned electrical power company, Central Light and Power, and terminating the employment of over 44,000 SME members. On January 13, 2012, OTLA accepted the submission for review and issued a Federal Register notice on its decision. OTLA is now in the process of conducting its review of the submission to determine its findings on the allegations in the submission, which it will present in a public report to the Secretary of Labor. On June 25, 2012, OTLA determined that an extension of time for its review was warranted, and notified the public in a Federal Register notice that published on July 2, 2012.
The U.S. Department of Labor has issued a public report in response to a submission filed under Chapter 17 (the Labor Chapter) of the United States-Peru Trade Promotion Agreement (PTPA) by the International Labor Rights Forum, Perú Equidad, and seven Peruvian workers’ organizations. The report was released on March 18, 2016.
The Office of Trade and Labor Affairs (OTLA) of the U.S. Department of Labor's Bureau of International Labor Affairs, as the designated contact point under the Labor Chapter, conducted a detailed review of the allegations contained in the submission.
During the review, from September 2015 to March 2016, the OTLA considered all information provided by the submitters, the Government of Peru, and others with direct knowledge of the relevant issues. The review also included a fact-finding mission in Peru from December 6-15, 2015 to gather additional information on the issues raised by the submission, including through meetings with the Peruvian government, the submitters, workers’ organizations, employers, and other relevant stakeholders.
The report raises significant concerns regarding the right to freedom of association in Peru’s non-traditional export sectors, which includes exports such as textiles, apparel, and certain agricultural products. The report also raises questions regarding labor law enforcement in Peru. To help guide subsequent engagement between the U.S. government and the Government of Peru, the report provides six recommendations aimed at addressing the questions and concerns, and notes the U.S. government’s commitment to assess any progress by Peru within nine months and thereafter, as appropriate.
The report, which was published within 180 days of initiating a review of the matter, represents the U.S. Department of Labor’s streamlined and timely review of labor submissions received under U.S. trade agreements
- 2015 Submission
- 2010 Submission
On December 30, 2010, OTLA received a submission from the Peruvian National Union of Tax Administration Workers (SINAUT), Sindicato Nacional de Unidad de Trabajadores de SUNAT. The submission alleges that SUNAT, an executive branch agency of the Government of Peru, has failed to comply with Peru's labor laws as they relate to collective bargaining, in violation of the Labor Chapter of the U.S. Peru Trade Promotion Agreement. On July 19, 2011, OTLA accepted the submission for review and issued a Federal Register notice on its decision on July 26, 2011. OTLA has engaged with the submitters and the Government of Peru as part of its efforts to prepare a public report with findings and recommendations on the allegations contained in the submission. On January 10, 2012, OTLA notified the submitters and the Government of Peru it had extended its period of review.
The Office of Trade and Labor Affairs (OTLA) of the U.S. Department of Labor has conducted an extensive review of the allegations contained in Submission 2010-03, filed under the United States-Peru Trade Promotion Agreement (PTPA) by the Peruvian National Union of Tax Administration Workers (SINAUT). The submission alleges that the SINAUT's employer, the National Superintendant of Tax Administration (SUNAT), failed to effectively recognize the union's right to collective bargaining. Based on the review, the OTLA has determined that the Peruvian Ministry of Labor and Promotion of Employment appears to have fulfilled its duties during the relevant collective bargaining processes, but the SUNAT failed to comply with certain elements of the Peruvian Collective Bargaining Law, including deadlines for launching negotiations. With regard to all other issues raised in the submission, the OTLA has determined that important legal ambiguity during the period at issue prevents a finding that the SUNAT failed to comply with the law or that the Government of Peru failed to comply with or enforce its own labor laws during that time.
Throughout the review process, the Peruvian government has demonstrated a willingness to productively discuss with the U.S. government the issues raised in the submission. In addition, since the petition was filed, the Government of Peru has taken important steps to address some of the issues raised therein, including by issuing legal instruments to help clarify legal ambiguity and facilitate collective bargaining. The OTLA does not believe formal consultations are needed to continue such positive engagement and progress on these matters. As a result, the OTLA does not recommend formal consultations between the U.S. government and the Peruvian government under Article 17.7.1 of the PTPA Labor Chapter.