Wyden, Brown Release Statement Following Abruptly Scheduled Mexican Union Election in Tridonex USMCA Rapid Response Case
Senators Urge Mexican Government and Tridonex to Guarantee a Fair Union Election for 1,600 workers who Produce Auto Parts for the U.S. Market, Call for the Presence of Independent Observers
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Tridonex, an auto parts factory located in Matamoros in the state of Tamaulipas, Mexico and subsidiary of a U.S. company, has continually interfered in workers’ organizing efforts. Today, U.S. Senators Ron Wyden, D-Ore., and Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, issued the following statement following news of a rushed union election at Tridonex’ Matamoros plants in Mexico, to be held on February 28, and the lack of sufficient guarantees to ensure a fair election under USMCA enforcement. For two years, workers at Tridonex have been harassed and fired for trying to organize with the independent Sindicato Nacional Independiente de Trabajadores de Industrias y Servicios “Movimiento 20/32” (SNITIS) union, an independent Mexican union of their choice, to replace a corrupt “protection” union.
Wyden and Brown fought for and successfully secured an important worker-empowering provision as part of the US-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA), allowing impacted workers to bring cases alleging labor violations at the facility level for the first time. This provision ensures that corporations are held accountable in paying workers a living wage and treating them fairly, regardless of where those workers are located, so that companies no longer have an incentive to move jobs abroad – thereby protecting workers on both sides of the border.
“We put in place the Brown–Wyden rapid response mechanism (RMM) to fight the race-to-the-bottom that encourages outsourcing and depresses wages for American workers, by supporting Mexican workers’ fight for better wages and working conditions. When we stand with workers in Mexico, we lift up American workers,” said the Senators in a statement. “As Congress continues its oversight of the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement’s (USMCA) labor enforcement, we are alarmed by the short notice given by Mexican labor authorities to conduct this election at Tridonex facility. Tridonex and Mexico’s labor authorities must ensure that all eligible workers can cast a secret ballot freely and without intimidation, disseminate election information to all workers, guarantee the presence of official and independent election observers from the International Labor Organization (ILO), and facilitate transportation and full access to the vote for all workers.”
Representatives of the independent SNITIS union, which is challenging control over the collective bargaining agreement (CBA) covering Tridonex’ plants, have reported attempts by the “protection” incumbent union to influence the outcome of the election through illegal bribes, the refusal of the company to allow SNITIS to share its proposals with its workers and recent rules in the industrial park where Tridonex operates that could prevent former employees with the right to participate in the election from casting their vote.
The Brown-Wyden Provision that the senators helped secure in USCMA represents the first-ever overhaul of labor enforcement standards in a trade agreement since the U.S. started negotiating trade deals. The new agreement allows workers in Mexico to report when a company is violating their rights and seek immediate action if it’s determined that workers’ rights have been violated. The Brown-Wyden RRM allows for punitive damages when corporations violate labor protections, and gives the authority for the U.S. to prevent goods from coming into America if companies continue their anti-worker tactics. When corporations are held accountable in paying workers a living wage and treating them fairly, regardless of where those workers are located, companies no longer have an incentive to move jobs abroad – thereby protecting workers on both sides of the border.
In May 2021, Wyden and Brown issued a statement of solidarity with workers following the announcement from the AFL-CIO, the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), SNITIS, and Public Citizen that they filed the first complaint under the Brown-Wyden Rapid Response Mechanism (RRM) of the US-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA), against Tridonex. On June 9, 2021, the United States Trade Representative (USTR) formally requested Mexico to review whether workers at the Tridonex are being denied the rights of free association and collective bargaining.
Keith Chu (Wyden) 202-224-5244
Trudy Perkins/Rachael Hartford (Brown) 202-224-3978
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