United States Seeks Mexico's Review of Labor Rights Concerns at a Grupo Mexico Mine

June 16, 2023

For the sixth time in 2023, and eleventh time overall, the United States has sought Mexico’s review under the USMCA’s Rapid Response Labor Mechanism.

WASHINGTON – United States Trade Representative Katherine Tai today announced that the United States has asked Mexico to review whether workers at the San Martin mine in the state of Zacatecas are being denied the rights to freedom of association and collective bargaining.  The San Martin mine is a lead, zinc, and copper mine, owned and operated by the Grupo México conglomerate.  The request, which was made in response to a petition, marks the eleventh time the United States has formally invoked the Rapid Response Labor Mechanism (RRM) in the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA).   

“Earlier this week, the United States invoked the Rapid Response Labor Mechanism at an Industrias del Interior (INISA) garment facility, the first time we have used this tool in the garment sector. That action, combined with today’s announcement, highlights the RRM’s versatility in defending the rights of workers across industries,” said Ambassador Katherine Tai. “This mechanism complements Mexico’s labor reforms as our governments work together to create real and tangible change. We are grateful to our stakeholder partners for promptly raising these issues and look forward to working with the Government of Mexico in the weeks ahead.”

“Respect for a union’s status as the exclusive collective bargaining representative and its right to strike are critical components of Mexico’s labor reform,” said Deputy Undersecretary for International Affairs Thea Lee. “We value our partnership with the Mexican government and look forward to resolving this matter in a manner that preserves the rights of workers.”

In connection with the U.S. request, Ambassador Tai has directed the Secretary of the Treasury to suspend the final settlement of customs accounts related to entries of goods from the San Martin facility.  

The United States Trade Representative and the Secretary of Labor co-chair the Interagency Labor Committee for Monitoring and Enforcement (ILC).  On May 15, the ILC received an RRM petition from the American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO), the United Steel Workers (USW), and the Sindicato Nacional de Trabajadores Mineros, Metalúrgicos, Siderúgicos y Similares de la República Mexicana (Los Mineros), a Mexican union.  The petition alleged that Grupo Mexico has resumed operations at the San Martin mine despite an ongoing strike and engaged in collective bargaining with a coalition of workers despite the fact that Los Mineros holds the right to represent workers for purposes of collective bargaining.  The ILC reviews RRM petitions that it receives, and the accompanying information, within 30 days.
The ILC, in response to the petition, determined that there is sufficient, credible evidence of a denial of rights enabling the good faith invocation of enforcement mechanisms.  As a result, the United States Trade Representative has submitted a request to Mexico that Mexico review whether workers at the San Martin mine facility are being denied the right to freedom of association and collective bargaining.  Mexico has ten days to agree to conduct a review and, if it agrees, 45 days from today to complete the review.

A copy of the request for review can be found here.
A copy of the letter to the Secretary of the Treasury can be found here.

Information about previous requests can be found here.