35 Members of Congress Write Labor Secretary Chao Demanding Action on Autotrim/Customtrim
May 7, 2002
Ms. Elaine Chao
Re: The Case of Autotrim and Customtrim, NAO Submission 2000-01
Dear Secretary Chao:
We are writing to indicate our concern and to request additional information regarding the petition to the National Administrative Office (NAO) on behalf of workers at two Mexican factories, Autotrim and Customtrim, owned by U.S.-based Breed Technologies.
We commend the U.S. NAO for its April 6, 2001, report which concluded that the Mexican government had persistently failed to enforce its own health and safety regulations at these plants and called for ministerial consultations to address these problems. However, we are concerned that during nearly a year since this report was issued, the U.S. Department of Labor has produced little evidence that these consultations have yielded concrete results. We feel that this is unacceptable, particularly in light of the serious work-related injuries and illnesses suffered by workers at Autotrim and Customtrim, as documented in the NAO report.
If indeed progress has been made through the consultation process, we ask that you provide to us a detailed report on these developments, including meeting dates, names of participants, and outcomes. We believe that it is particularly important for members of the U.S. Congress and the public to have a clear picture of U.S. enforcement of labor rights provisions under NAFTA, especially given the Bush Administration's efforts to expand NAFTA through the Free Trade Area of the Americas Agreement.
If the ministerial consultations have not produced adequate remedies, we urge you to take further action as quickly as possible. Article 23 of the North American Accord on Labor Cooperation (NAALC) allows for the establishment of an Evaluation Committee of Experts to study and make recommendations regarding cases where consultations have proved unsuccessful. We strongly urge you to consider requesting the Ministerial Council of the Commission for Labor Cooperation to convene such a committee and to pursue a productive conclusion to this case.
We look forward to receiving a complete documentation of your efforts to date on this complaint. Thank you for your attention to this important matter and for your prompt reply.
1. George Miller