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News Release

Archived News Release — Caution: Information may be out of date.


Bureau of International Labor Affairs

ILAB Press Release: Labor Department to Review Freedom of Association Allegation Against Mexico [11/17/1997]

For more information call: (202) 219-6373 X 164

The Labor Department's National Administrative Office (NAO) has accepted for review a public submission alleging that Mexico has failed to enforce its labor laws protecting freedom of association rights. The submission was filed on October 30 pursuant to the terms of the North American Agreement on Labor Cooperation (NAALC), often referred to as the NAFTA labor side agreement.

NAO Secretary Irasema Garza said: "We are very concerned about the seriousness of the allegations contained in this submission and will proceed with a thorough review of the issues. The filing raises freedom of association issues similar to previous submissions, and we remain very focused on matters involving these fundamental worker rights."

The submission arises from events at the Han Young facility in Tijuana, Mexico, located across the border from San Diego. The submission alleges that workers at the facility attempted to organize a union to replace the existing union at the factory. Efforts to have the company recognize the new union proved unsuccessful. The submitters allege that the company has engaged in a campaign of intimidation against the union and fired a number of union supporters.

A union representation election was held on October 6 between the two competing unions to determine the bargaining unit. The submitters allege that the new union won the election and that the authorities may attempt to nullify the results. They are waiting for the local labor tribunal to certify the results. In the week following the election, the submission alleges that four active union supporters were fired by the company. The submitters assert that the company plans to bring in replacement workers and dismiss workers who support the union. The submitters also assert that the employer's intimidation tactics are occurring with the knowledge and cooperation of local government authorities.

The Department is informed that Han Young manufactures chassis exclusively for Hyundai Precision of America, a subsidiary of the Hyundai Corporation of Korea.

The submission has been designated Submission No. 9702. It was filed by three labor rights/human rights organizations and one Mexican union: the Support Committee for Maquiladora Workers; the International Labor Rights Fund; the National Association of Democratic Lawyers of Mexico; and the Union of Metal, Steel, Iron, and Allied Workers (known by its Spanish acronym of STIMAHCS).

This is the eighth submission against Mexico that has been filed under the labor side agreement. The NAO has up to 180 days to review the case and issue a report of its findings.

Archived News Release — Caution: Information may be out of date.

Bureau of International Labor Affairs
November 17, 1997
Media Contact: David Roberts
Phone Number