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Worker Rights Violations at Huge VW Plant in Mexico

The plant is the largest, longest-operating auto factory in the country.

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On April 25, 2024, 10 workers fired from Volkswagen's assembly plant in Puebla, Mexico, filed a petition alleging worker rights violations. The petition said the workers were fired in retaliation for union activity they conducted while serving as union representatives. The plant is the largest, longest-operating auto factory in the country.

The former employees say Volkswagen Mexico violated their freedom of association and collective bargaining rights at the plant. Today, the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement's (USMCA) Interagency Labor Committee for Monitoring and Enforcement asked the Mexican government to review the committee's findings, which show that the workers' rights were denied.

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    Filed under the USMCA's Rapid Response Labor Mechanism, the petition asserts the wrongful dismissal of 10 members of the outgoing leadership committee of the Independent Union of Workers of the Automotive, Similar and Related Industries Volkswagen of Mexico (Sindicato Independiente de Trabajadores de Industria Automotriz, Similares y Conexos Volkswagen de México) following a recent union election.  

    Thea Lee, deputy undersecretary for international affairs at the U.S. Labor Departments, said, "We are deeply concerned by the alleged violations of freedom of association against 10 union members at the Volkswagen plant in Puebla given its historically important role in Mexico's economy and the nation's independent trade union movement. Retaliating against workers for their union activities violates the workers' basic and fundamental rights that the USMCA protects."

    Co-chaired by the Labor Department and the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative, the Interagency Labor Committee found sufficient and credible evidence that the workers' freedom of association and collective bargaining rights were denied and initiated the review request.

    Mexico has 10 days to decide whether to conduct a review and 45 days to investigate the claims and present its findings. 

    The Volkswagen Mexico plant has some 6,100 assembly line workers, 5,000 supervisory or trusted employees and thousands of parts-assembly workers. The factory makes 2,300 vehicles per day. In 2023, the company exported more than 300,000 vehicles, 67% of which went to the U.S. 

    In a statement, Ambassador Katherine Tai, said the Rapid Response Labor Mechanism has directly benefitted almost 30,000 workers and their families to date. She said, "Today's action reflects the United States' unwavering commitment to ensuring workers can engage in union activity without fearing reprisals."

    According to the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative, while the request is reviewed, the U.S. has suspended liquidation of tariffs on goods from the facility, which makes Volkswagen vehicles and automotive parts.

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