USW International Affairs Director Ben Davis Testifies at Senate Finance Committee Hearing on USMCA

USW International Affairs Director Ben Davis on July 27 testified at a Senate Finance Committee hearing marking the anniversary of the implementation of the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA).

Davis specifically addressed the labor protections Democrats and unions fought to include in the USMCA, a trade agreement that replaced the disastrous North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).

In particular, Davis noted the significance of the rapid response mechanism developed by Sens. Ron Wyden and Sherrod Brown as a critical tool in holding Mexico accountable for enforcing its new labor laws and ultimately improving wages and working conditions across North America. 

This mechanism has been employed twice since the implementation of USMCA: a petition filed by the AFL-CIO to protect workers at Tridonex’s Matamoros plant and a USTR-initiated filing regarding violations of workers’ rights at a General Motors plant in Silao in northern Mexico.

Workers in both plants, like many workers in Mexico, are represented by company-aligned protection unions under which workers have no voice in choosing their union representatives and often have no knowledge of the contract that determines their wages and working conditions.

Davis, who also serves as chair of the Independent Mexico Labor Expert Board established by Congress to monitor USMCA implementation, said that unless this system is replaced with widespread access to democratic unions, corporations will continue to exploit workers in Mexico and pit them against their U.S. and Canadian counterparts. 

“Without a fundamental shift from protection unions like the ones at GM and Tridonex towards democratic labor organizations, no amount of government oversight will result in a trade union movement that can organize and bargain for higher wages for Mexican workers to address the structural inequality in the USMCA region that drives both migration and loss of good manufacturing jobs,” Davis said.

Davis stressed urgency in making this transition and recommended that at least $30 million annually of USMCA appropriated funds be devoted to worker organizing and union capacity building in Mexico.

The full hearing is available here.

 

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