The U.S. has expanded the types of facilities targeted under a dispute settlement tool included in the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement.

The rapid response mechanism was added to the USMCA to provide for expedited enforcement of workers’ free association and collective bargaining rights at the facility level. The U.S. has invoked the RRM a dozen times, mostly against auto parts and apparel factories, but on Aug. 30 expanded its complaints to the services sector.

Specifically, a press release from the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative states, the U.S. has asked Mexico to review whether pilots at Aerotransportes Mas de Carga, an airline that provides cargo transportation services in North and South America, are being denied the right to freedom of association and collective bargaining. This request is based on a petition alleging that this company has engaged in harassment, intimidation, and retaliation against workers because of their union affiliation. The petition also alleged irregularities in connection with a May 2023 legitimization vote. 

USTR states that Mexico now has ten days to decide whether or not to conduct a review and, if it does, 45 days to complete the review. If a review is conducted and finds a denial of rights, the U.S. and Mexico will have ten days to try to agree on a plan to address the situation that Mexico would then carry out within an agreed-upon timeframe. If both sides subsequently agree that the plan has been successfully concluded, no further action is taken.

However, if Mexico does not agree to carry out a review or does not find a denial of rights, or if the U.S. and Mexico cannot agree on a plan of action, the U.S. may proceed to formal dispute settlement. If a panel finds a denial of rights or that a plan was not complied with, the U.S. may remove some or all USMCA trade benefits (e.g., by reinstating import tariffs) for goods coming into the U.S. from the particular workplace.

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