Neal, Blumenauer, Along with Ways and Means Democrats and USMCA Working Group Members, Urge Scalia, Lighthizer to Implement USMCA-Labor Provisions as Congress Intended
Jul 23, 2020
WASHINGTON, DC – Nearly six months after the President signed the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA), and three weeks after the agreement entered into force, the Ways and Means Committee and USMCA Working Group Democratic Leaders expressed their deep concern to Department of Labor (Labor) Secretary Eugene Scalia and U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) Ambassador Robert Lighthizer over lack of action to support worker outreach and education in Mexico. Ways and Means Chairman Richard E. Neal (D-MA) and Trade Subcommittee Chairman Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) led the letter, which was signed by all Ways and Means Committee Democrats and Representatives Rosa DeLauro (D-CT), Jan Schakowsky (D-IL) and Suzanne Bonamici (D-OR) from the USMCA Working Group.
Throughout the negotiation process of USMCA, Democrats fought hard to include funding for labor law reforms in Mexico – a matter of basic human rights – and necessary to raise labor standards for workers in Mexico and in the United States. Mexico’s current labor system is riddled with employer exploitation of workers and systematic resistance to workers’ attempts to organize independent unions. Reforming this system is a main tenet of the USMCA and Congress allocated substantial funding to help achieve these reforms. Despite the President’s political rhetoric, his Administration’s failure to move these resources quickly clearly reveals its lack of concern for the dire needs of American workers, as well as those across our borders.
“In approving the USMCA Implementation Act, Congress appropriated significant financial resources to support and ensure the implementation and enforcement of required labor law reforms in Mexico,” the lawmakers emphasized. “Notably, the USMCA Implementation Act provides $180 million which ‘shall be used to support reforms of the labor justice system in Mexico, including grants to support worker focused capacity building,’ and related efforts through the DOL. Nearly six months after the USMCA Implementation Act was signed into law and after the USMCA has entered into force, we are concerned that those substantial resources will not be deployed where they are most needed to enable the long-awaited labor reforms – which is to support worker organizing and worker-driven initiatives to defend basic rights and strengthen authentic representation.”
The lawmakers concluded: “Congress allocated substantial funding for this resource-intensive work because it is absolutely necessary for the effective implementation of Mexico’s labor reform. It is also necessary to the success of USMCA’s correction of the North American Free Trade Agreement’s basic flaws.”
In addition to requesting a response detailing how USMCA funds are being used in a manner consistent with how Congress appropriated them, the lawmakers urged Scalia and Lighthizer “to allocate funding to effective worker focused capacity building activities in Mexico, consistent with the language and spirit of the USMCA implementing bill.”
The full text of the letter is available HERE.