UAW petition prompts U.S. to seek Mexican review at Stellantis parts plant

Breana Noble
The Detroit News

A petition from the United Auto Workers and a Mexican labor union has prompted the United States to request Mexico to review possible labor rights violations at an auto parts plants owned by Jeep maker Stellantis NV under requirements of the United States-Mexico-Canada trade agreement.

U.S. Trade Rep. Katherine Tai and Labor Secretary Mary Walsh on Monday said they are requesting that Mexico investigate whether workers at the Teksid Hierro de México facility in Frontera, a city in the border state of Coahuila, are being denied the freedoms of association and collective bargaining. Mexico has 10 days to agree to conduct a review and, if it does, 45 days from Monday to complete it. 

Tai also has directed Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen to suspend the sale of all unsold entries of goods from the Teksid Hierro plant.

In Mexico, unions with alliances with employers have helped to keep wages down for decades, attracting investments and draining manufacturing jobs from the United States

Reuters first reported the U.S. government was making the request of Mexican officials.

The USMCA, which replaced the North American Free Trade Agreement in 2020, requires Mexico to have laws for the effective recognition of workers' freedom to bargain collectively. It allows the United States to revoke the tariff-free status on exports from individual factories that fail to comply with domestic labor laws such as the reforms Mexico instituted in 2019.

Teksid makes iron castings for heavy vehicles. Labor activists say that since 2014, the company that employs nearly 1,500 people has fired and blocked workers from being represented by the National Union of Mine, Metal, Steel and Allied Workers of the Mexican Republic, which is known shortly as the Miners Union, according to Reuters.

On May 5, the UAW and the Miners Union submitted a petition under the USMCA's Rapid Response Labor Mechanism to the Interagency Labor Committee for Monitoring and Enforcement that Tai and Walsh chair. The committee determined there was sufficient credible evidence of the allegations that Teksid Hierro workers were being denied unionization rights.

The request is the fourth by the U.S. government under the RRLM. A probe into a General Motors Co. truck plant in Mexico resulted in a breakthrough chance for workers to vote on union representation last year, securing an 8.5% wage increase last month.

The U.S. also has made requests to review automotive parts plants owned by Japan's Panasonic Holdings Corp. and Tridonex, a unit of Philadelphia-based Cardone Industries Inc.

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV in 2019 — prior to merging with French automaker Groupe PSA to create Stellantis — had agreed to sell subsidiary Teksid SpA's iron casting operations to Brazil's Tupy SA. The U.S. Justice Department approved the sale in July, but required that the deal exclude Teksid's Mexican operations over concerns it could lead to higher prices for heavy-duty trucks.

Twitter: @BreanaCNoble