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U.S. Still Reviewing Guatemala’s Progress on Labor Rights Enforcement

Wednesday, August 27, 2014
Sandler, Travis & Rosenberg Trade Report

U.S. Trade Representative Mike Froman announced Aug. 25 that the U.S. is suspending for an additional four weeks the dispute settlement process in a CAFTA-DR labor enforcement case against Guatemala. According to a USTR press release, the U.S. is reviewing information provided by Guatemala concerning legal reforms and actions it has taken to strengthen labor law enforcement, as well as whether these reforms are leading to concrete improvements in Guatemalan workers’ rights. The press release notes that Froman travelled to Guatemala recently to press for effective implementation of the 18-point labor rights enforcement plan the two sides signed in 2013.

In response to USTR’s announcement, House Ways and Means Committee Ranking Member Sander Levin, D-Mich., said he remains “deeply concerned about Guatemala’s failure to take the necessary steps to fulfill even the limited commitments it agreed to under CAFTA and the Enforcement Plan” and that he will work with the White House to pursue arbitration “if Guatemala continues to shirk the long overdue implementation of its commitments.”

AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka also expressed concern about the most recent extension and urged “government officials in both nations to move as soon as possible to dispute settlement.” He criticized the enforcement plan as having “achieved only minimal formal changes with no real improvements for workers,” asserting that “workers continue to be harassed for demanding their rights under the law, fired for joining unions, and murdered for daring to organize a union or demand collective bargaining.”

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