United States Seeks Mexico’s Review of Alleged Denial of Workers’ Rights at Volkswagen de México, S.A. de C.V.

May 28, 2024

WASHINGTON – United States Trade Representative Katherine Tai announced today that the United States has asked Mexico to review whether workers at the Volkswagen de México, S.A. de C.V. facility in Cuautlancingo, Puebla, are being denied their rights to freedom of association and collective bargaining. This request, which was made in response to a petition delivered by former Volkswagen workers, marks the twenty-third time the United States has formally invoked the Rapid Response Labor Mechanism (RRM) in the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) and the fifth time in 2024.

“Today’s action reflects the United States’ unwavering commitment to ensuring workers can engage in union activity without fearing reprisals.  Workplaces should respect, not punish, workers exercising their freedom of association and collective bargaining rights, and this is how we are empowering workers and their communities through the USMCA,” said Ambassador Katherine Tai.  “To date, the RRM has directly benefitted almost 30,000 workers and their families, and we look forward to working with the Government of Mexico to address the issues at this facility.”  

“We are deeply concerned by the alleged violations of freedom of association at the Volkswagen plant in Puebla, especially given its historic place in Mexico’s economy and its independent trade unionism movement. Retaliation against workers for their union activities is unacceptable and violates the fundamental rights protected under the USMCA,” said Deputy Undersecretary for International Affairs Thea Lee. “We are committed to working with the Mexican government to investigate these matters thoroughly and to ensure that VW workers’ essential rights are upheld.”  

While this request is reviewed, the United States has suspended liquidation of tariffs on goods from the facility, which manufactures Volkswagen vehicles and automotive parts.

The United States Trade Representative and the Secretary of Labor co-chair the Interagency Labor Committee for Monitoring and Enforcement (ILC). On April 25, 2024, the ILC received an RRM petition from a group of former Volkswagen de México workers. The petition alleges Volkswagen de México dismissed these workers in retaliation for union activity they conducted while serving as union representatives. The ILC reviews RRM petitions that it receives and the accompanying information, within 30 days.
The ILC 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 the Government of Mexico that it reviews whether workers at Volkswagen de México are being denied the right to freedom of association and collective bargaining. Mexico has 10 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 U.S. Secretary of the Treasury can be found here.
Information about previous requests can be found here.