As the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) debate intensifies, a coalition of U.S. and Mexican labor and civil society groups are taking an unprecedented legal approach to protect workers’ rights that will test the strength of labor protections in international trade agreements.
Of the 12 countries that make up the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership, or TPP, Vietnam and Malaysia aren't the only ones with serious labor and human rights deficiencies. Mexico also has an egregious record of failing to protect working people.
The AFL-CIO has urged the Mexican government to ensure that the rights of some 80,000 agricultural workers in Baja California—including tens of thousands who have been on strike in the San Quintin Valley—are protected.
President Barack Obama hosted President Enrique Peña Nieto of Mexico in Washington, D.C., today and, as emphasized in a letter sent by AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka, the global trade union movement is deeply concerned by the human rights crisis in Mexico, which harms working people on both sides of the border.
The United Steelworkers (USW) extended a warm welcome to Napoleón Gómez Urrutia, president and general secretary of the National Union of Mine, Metal and Steelworkers of Mexico (Los Mineros), as he visited Pittsburgh last week.
Workers at the 6,000-employee call center company Atento Servicios in Mexico face daily challenges on the job. These mostly young workers make low wages, work long shifts, face high stress demands from callers, and are subjected to yelling, sexual harassment, and other abuses. They are treated like an expendable workforce and are hired and fired at a nearly 80 percent annual turnover rate.
The federal judiciary of Mexico extended protection late last week to the embattled leader of the National Union of Mine, Metal, Steel and Allied Workers (Los Mineros), Napoleón Gómez Urrutia. In what will go down as a historic victory for the Mexican labor movement, the three judges of the circuit court unanimously declared the arrest warrants against Gómez unconstitutional, siding with Gómez’s legal defense team that the charges were without merit and politically motivated. This ruling will allow Gómez to return to Mexico in absolute freedom, as the Mexican government must now cancel extradition requests pending in Canada and with Interpol.
Samuel Rosales Rio came to the United States from Mexico under an H-2B visa to work at a food stand in a traveling carnival. When he arrived, he and his co-workers, most of whom also entered the country under the H-2B program, wound up working 16 to 17 hours a day in the sweltering heat for as little as $1 an hour. Workers were only provided a single meal each day and the meager wages made it impossible to supplement. Under the H-2B program, employers are supposed to provide adequate housing, but workers reported sleeping in overcrowded trailers infested with fleas and bedbugs without a place to wash. Rosales wound up in the hospital as a result of dehydration and infections from bug bites.