AFL-CIO leader meets AMLO in Mexico City

PHARR, RGV – President Andrés Manuel López Obrador met on Wednesday with Richard Trumka, president of AFL-CIO, the largest trade union group in the U.S.

Under the terms of USMCA, the successor trade agreement to NAFTA, Mexico is required to apply new, stricter labor laws. Trumka wants that provision adhered to.

“Today I had a very good conversation with Richard Trumka to whom I expressed my commitment to enforce the new labor law of Mexico and our interest in the approval of the T-MEC in the United States and Canada,” Lopez Obrador said on his twitter account.

Trumka also tweeted about the meeting.

“Thank you to President @LopezObrador_ for hosting me in Mexico City yesterday. We had a frank conversation about the fundamental changes that must be at the heart of any North American trade deal. Working people want to get to yes, but this deal still needs some work,” Trumka tweeted.

The labor law changes seek to eliminate the longstanding practice in which pro-company “protection” unions sign contracts behind workers’ backs.

Companies often find or form compliant unions and sign contracts before they even open factories in Mexico.

Unions will now have to publish public notices about upcoming contract votes and provide prior information to union members.

The new law came amid pressure on Mexico to tighten its labor rules as part of the new trade agreement.

However, Mexico has yet to pass laws on compliance with labor laws enforcement as part of the USMCA agreement.

U.S. Rep. Henry Cuellar and U.S. Sen. John Cornyn held a news conference at the conclusion of a USMCA forum hosted in Pharr, Texas, on Aug. 30, 2019.

Last week, U.S. Rep. Henry Cuellar spoke about Mexico’s labor situation. “I just got back from Mexico City, and we emphasized that. You got to put the money in for labor enforcement,” Cuellar said, at a forum hosted by the Rio Grande Valley Partnership and Futuro RGV.

“Make sure to hire judges, labor judges and all that, by September when they are going to present the budget,” Cuellar said, referring to a conversation he had with a Mexican federal government official.

Cuellar said Mexico still has to comply with that part of USMCA.

“We hope by November the Mexicans will put enough money in there to make sure that there is a commitment for the (labor) enforcement part of it,” Cuellar said.

On July 7, the United States Congress went into recess and will resume work on September 9.

Francisco Miguel Galvan, bilateral representative for the State of Tamaulipas was present at the USMCA forum, which was held at the Pharr Events Center.

“We are very interested to see the urgency so that this new treaty can be signed as soon as possible to send a signal to investors,” said Galvan.

“We see that nothing is moving through this climate of uncertainty.”

Jesús Seade Kuri

Jesús Seade Kuri, Mexico Undersecretary for North America was, however, optimistic this Tuesday about the ratification of the USMCA.

Seade showed his optimism for a quick ratification of the USMCA. “Excellent news,” he wrote on his Twitter account.

Seade was responding to reports that Canadian Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau had talked with U.S. Speaker Nancy Pelosi by phone on this subject.

“I spoke today about moving forward with the new NAFTA in order to support good, middle class jobs and create opportunities for the people in both sides of the border,” Tradeau wrote.

A statement from Pelosi’s office provided more details about the phone conversation between Trudeau and Pelosi.

“The speaker emphasized that Democrats are especially concerned with enforcement of the agreement and Mexico continuing to implement labor standards and other key commitments,” the statement said.

Pelosi commended Trudeau for a recent announcement that Canada would provide technical assistance and capacity building support to help Mexico implement its labor reforms, the statement added.

The Canadian government reported last month that they will help Mexico through the formation of a bilateral labor group.

Editor’s Note: The Associated Press contributed to this story.

Updated: September 6, 2019 — 8:41 pm