November 20, 2001 letter to the U.S. NAO protesting lack of action

November 20, 2001

Lewis Karesh, Acting Secretary
U.S. Department of Labor
200 Constitution Avenue, NW
Washington, D.C. 20210

Re: Submission 2000-01
Autotrim/Customtrim case

Dear Mr. Karesh:

On July 6, 2001, at the NAO’s request, the petitioners in Submission 2000-01, submitted to you a comprehensive set of health and safety recommendations. At the NAO’s request, we also prioritized items for immediate action. Finally, we asked that a reasonable timetable be adopted for the conduct of Ministerial Consultations, and for implementation of recommendations. Our July 6th set of recommendations simply provided more specificity to an earlier set of recommendations that we filed with the NAO on May 21, 2001.

When you and I spoke several months ago, you indicated that although the U.S. NAO had engaged in preliminary discussions about Ministerial Consultations with its Mexican counterpart, no agreement about action or even a timetable for action had been reached. To date, the NAO has not provided the submitters concrete information about the progress of Ministerial Consultations or the implementation of the recommendations made by the U.S. NAO itself, by NIOSH, or by the submitters.

The submitters understand that government business was necessarily disrupted because of the September 11th attacks and their aftermath. However, more than six months have passed since the NAO’s report on Submission 2000-01, and almost a year has elapsed since the hearing on the case. We believe that there has been ample opportunity to implement recommendations that would provide Autotrim and Customtrim/Breed Mexicana workers and former workers some measure of relief. The apparent lack of concrete action to benefit current and former workers causes the submitters to question the efficacy of the NAALC process. The workers who provided oral and written testimony for the submission–in some cases, at significant personal and professional risk– wonder why they bothered.

The submitters would like to think that tangible improvements may still result from the Autotrim/Customtrim case. Only the timely implementation of real changes to ameliorate the conditions that adversely affect the health of current and former workers will convince the submitters that the NAALC process is more than window-dressing for NAFTA. Please advise us as soon as possible what concrete steps, if any, are being taken in the Autotrim/Customtrim case to ensure real improvements in workplace health and safety, and the process by which IMSS awards compensation and provides treatment to disabled workers.



Monica Schurtman
On behalf of the submitters

cc. Peter Accolla
Tina Faulkner