United States Announces Successful Resolution of Rapid Response Labor Mechanism Matter to Restore Workers’ Rights at Minera Tizapa Facility

May 30, 2024

WASHINGTON – United States Trade Representative Katherine Tai today announced the successful resolution of the second USMCA facility-specific Rapid Response Labor Mechanism (RRM) matter in the mining sector, regarding Minera Tizapa S.A. de C.V, a subsidiary of Industrias Peñoles, S.A.B. de C.V.  The facility, where workers were denied their freedom of association and collective bargaining rights, is located in Zacazonapan, Mexico and specializes in mining lead and other materials.  After the United States requested the Government of Mexico’s review of the matter, Mexico and the company took several actions to remediate the denials of rights identified by the United States, including actions to reinstate and provide lost wages to unlawfully dismissed workers, pay workers a bonus originally paid solely to members of the incumbent union, and address other employer interference in union affairs.    
“Activating the Rapid Response Mechanism at the Minera Tizapa mine not only allowed eleven unlawfully dismissed workers to get their jobs back, but also ensured that they returned to a changed environment free from employer interference and discrimination,” said Ambassador Katherine Tai.  “We commend the Government of Mexico and Minera Tizapa for their commitment to swiftly remediating the denials of labor rights that occurred.  The Biden-Harris Administration is committed to standing up for workers denied their right to freedom of association and collective bargaining and, to date, the Rapid Response Mechanism has benefited nearly 30,000 workers, including the workers at this mine.”
“The U.S. Department of Labor commends the government of Mexico for its investigation at Minera Tizapa and for promoting company actions in response to anti-union discrimination,” said Deputy Undersecretary for International Affairs Thea Lee. “The actions taken set a strong foundation for democratic union representation and more collaborative labor relations.”  
Actions taken by the facility to address the matter include: 

  • Reinstating and providing backpay to eight workers that had been dismissed in retaliation for their union activity;
  • Rehiring three workers dismissed in retaliation for their union activity and who previously signed agreements with Mexican tribunals and accepted severance packages;
  • Paying an “operational continuity” bonus, which was originally paid in a discriminatory manner solely to workers affiliated with the incumbent union, to 249 workers who had not received it;
  • Adopting, disseminating, and implementing a neutrality statement and company guidelines on freedom of association and collective bargaining, including a zero-tolerance policy for violations, and training all company personnel on the guidelines and neutrality commitments; and
  • Recognizing the collective bargaining agreement ownership rights of the new titular union following a court resolution, and engaging in bargaining with that union, including by signing agreements on union dues, union officer salaries, local union support, and hiring of new personnel.

Actions taken by the Government of Mexico to address the matter include: 

  • Delivering in-person trainings for all company personnel on freedom of association and collective bargaining;
  • Monitoring the facility and engaging with the workers and employer throughout their review period;
  • Offering an email address for workers to anonymously report any intimidation, coercion, or threats with respect to their selection of a union, union activities, non-neutrality, or interference in internal union affairs; and
  • Organizing and facilitating a series of dialogue meetings to settle agreements between Minera Tizapa and the new titular union.

Based on these measures, Ambassador Tai has directed the Secretary of the Treasury to resume liquidation of unliquidated entries of goods from the facility.
The U.S. Trade Representative and the U.S. Secretary of Labor co-chair the Interagency Labor Committee for Monitoring and Enforcement (ILC).  On March 4, 2024, the ILC received an RRM petition from the Sindicato Nacional de Trabajadores Mineros, Metalúrgicos, Siderúrgicos y Similares de la República Mexicana (Los Mineros), an independent Mexican union.  The petition alleged Industrias Peñoles committed acts of employer interference in union affairs, by dismissing several workers in retaliation for their union activity and demonstrating favoritism toward the incumbent union, such as by paying a special bonus only to its affiliates.  The ILC reviews RRM petitions that it receives, and the accompanying information, within 30 days.  The ILC determined that there was sufficient, credible evidence of denials of rights enabling the good faith invocation of enforcement mechanisms.  
As a result, the U.S. Trade Representative submitted a request to the Government of Mexico to review the matter.  The Government of Mexico accepted the request, found denials of rights related to freedom of association and collective bargaining, and worked with the facility to take a number of remedial steps within their review period, which the United States has reviewed and concluded to have remedied the situation. 
A copy of the request for review can be found here.       

A copy of the letter to the U.S. Secretary of the Treasury can be found here.

Information about previous requests can be found here.