Statement by Undersecretary of Labor for International Affairs Thea Lee on closure of auto parts facility accused of labor rights violations at Piedras Negras plant in Mexico
WASHINGTON – Deputy Undersecretary of Labor for International Affairs Thea Lee made the following statement today upon the closure of the VU Manufacturas facility in Piedras Negras, Coahuila, Mexico:
“Today, the U.S. Department of Labor notes the regrettable decision by Manufacturas VU Auto Components to close its facility in Piedras Negras. This marks the end of implementation of a course of remediation that sought to remedy egregious denial of freedom of association rights. Unfortunately, the company undermined the majority union’s ability to represent workers in collective bargaining negotiations and their right to strike.
“Over the last two years, the U.S. and Mexican governments have worked out several successful courses of remediation under the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement’s Rapid Response Mechanism. This collaboration has led to significant progress for workers in exercising their rights in Mexico and has supported Mexico’s historic labor reform. The mechanism has resulted in employers taking significant actions to improve labor practices, benefiting workers’ rights in both countries.
“Recognizing the positive impact of the Rapid Response Mechanism for workers in just a few years, we also knew employers would not choose compliance in every instance. We note with disappointment VU’s decision to close its facility without adhering to the agreed course of remediation.
“The course of remediation expired on Sept. 30. It included a commitment by VU to create a climate that promotes respect for workers’ choice of union representation without interference in union activities. The agreement also reflected a strong commitment from the government of Mexico that the denial of freedom of association and collective bargaining rights will be properly remedied.
“Since the course of remediation was announced, the U. S. has closely monitored implementation, in collaboration with the government of Mexico. Together, in light of VU’s announcement, we are engaging with the employer community in Piedras Negras to publicly reaffirm their commitments to neutrality and respect for workers’ right to freely choose their unions, and to support former VU employees seeking employment in Piedras Negras and in the region.
“We urge the government of Mexico to fulfill the letter and spirit of its domestic labor laws, as well as its obligations under the USMCA. This includes taking steps to ensure that VU follows proper closure procedures so that timely payments are made to workers as required under Mexican law, and to employ additional strategies to prevent retaliation against former VU workers seeking employment at other facilities. The U.S. will continue to engage with the government of Mexico to secure remedies for these workers and protect former VU workers from retaliation.”