Senators Kennedy and Wellstone letter to Secretary Chao
(August 23, 2002)

August 23, 2002
The Honorable Elaine Chao
U.S. Department of Labor
200 Constitution Avenue NW
Washington, D.C. 20210

Dear Secretary Chao:

We are writing in support of the petition to the National Administrative Office (NAO) regarding the dire threat to the health and safety of workers at the Autotrim and Customtrim factories owned by Breed Technologies. We believe that this situation calls for urgent action by the Administration not only to protect these workers, but also as a signal of our government’s commitment to the effective enforcement of the labor rights provisions in the North American Free Trade Agreement as the United States moves forward with talks on a broader hemispheric trade agreement.

The NAO submission about these plants is a well documented case of work-related injuries.
In April of 2001, the NAO found that the Mexican government failed to effectively protect the rights of the workers in these factories. In June of this year, you and your Mexican counterpart issued a joint declaration announcing the formation of a bilateral working group of experts on occupational safety and health.

We believe that the formation of this working group, while an important step, is an insufficient response to the issues raised by the Autotrim/Customtrim case. We recommend the working group include some of the workers who submitted the NAO complaint and that the working group respond to the recommendations for protecting worker safety submitted by the petitioners in this case.

The workers involved in this case have been waiting patiently for five years for remedial action. If the working group does not produce an effective remedy within one year, we urge you to request the establishment of an Evaluation Committee of Experts to make recommendations regarding this case.

Thank you for your attention to this important matter.


Paul D. Wellstone
Subcommittee on Employment
Safety and Training

Edward M. Kennedy
Committee on Health, Education
Labor and Pensions