In 2008, the AFL-CIO and six Guatemalan labor organizations
a public submission with the U.S. Department of Labor's Office of Trade and Labor Affairs (OTLA), under the Dominican Republic–Central America Free Trade Agreement (DR–CAFTA), documenting the failure of the government of Guatemala to comply with the labor rights chapter of that agreement. It took three years before the United States agreed to pursue formal dispute settlement, the first time a labor case has ever moved to enforcement. It took seven years for the case to be actually heard, in April 2015. So far the panel already has twice-delayed issuing a ruling and made it clear it would not be making a final decision in 2015.
While this case has been pending:
The United States chose not to raise the issue of violence against trade unionists in its briefs, despite the original complaint documenting multiple cases of uninvestigated worker deaths and attacks. This major violation of freedom of association is one of the most pressing issues facing Guatemala's workers but appears it will go unaddressed. There is no formal role for workers in the arbitration process, but the AFL-CIO, the Guatemalan trade union movement and the ITUC have all filed supplemental briefs. In January 2013, the Guatemalan labor movement issued a document known as “Recommendations from the Guatemalan Labor Movement to the Labor Action Plan” (
) that provided a comprehensive list of long-needed reforms to improve rights protections for workers, but these recommendations, too, have been ignored.