By RICARDO CASTILLO
What’s going both in the Mexican Senate and the U.S. House of Representatives regarding the implementation of the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA)?
U.S. House Democrats want to include additional clauses that Mexico will not accept. Namely, they want to have inspectors included in union elections to guarantee that the pact’s labor chapter is enforced.
In Mexico, mining and foundry workers union leader Senator Napoleón Gómez Urrutia opened up a different can of worms that has to do with implementing a stiff regulation of outsourcing practices.
That move was stopped cold by majority leader of the National Regeneration Movement (Morena) party, Ricardo Monreal, who announced after the labor committee headed by Gómez Urrutia approved it, that the new outsourcing control bill “needs more discussion.”
Maybe it does, since several business and employer’s organizations – which are now thriving in the labor outsourcing business – see the bill as damaging to business and claim it may threaten the smooth flow of USMCA through the U.S. House and Senate floors for a definite approval vote.
The USMCA, remember, was signed by the three nations that first inked the now 25-year old North American Free Trade Agreement on Nov. 30, 2018, on the last day in office of former Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto, who carried out the negotiations for the treaty.
Meanwhile, on Tuesday, Dec. 3, Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO) rejected the Democratic proposal for U.S. government inspections in Mexico of the democratization of labor unions.
Sure, the Democrats have reason to distrust Mexican labor unions, as they have been over the past decades blatantly corrupt and run by labor leaders who perpetuate themselves in power through rigged elections.
AMLO, however, nixed the Democrats’ moves on the grounds that, during negotiations, Mexico accepted to push reforms to end the absence of democracy in labor organizations and eliminate what is known in Mexico as “union charrismo,” meaning spurious, undemocratic leaders who perpetuate themselves in power basically through rigged elections.
AMLO underlined that Mexico will not accept to have “a sort of inspectors” to supervise on whether a company complies or not with what is already agreed upon in the new text of the USMCA, known in Mexico as T-MEC.
The president pointed out that it was both Canada and the United States that pressured to include labor inspectors as part of the treaty.
Mexico, on the other hand, proposed instead the creation of negotiating panels – already existent under NAFTA for dispute negotiations – under equal terms. Incidentally, these panels have worked extremely well for a quarter of a century and brought satisfactory deals to all conflicts presented, and there have been literally thousands.
On Monday, Dec. 2, the Business Coordinating Council (CCE), one of the nation’s most powerful organizations, demanded that the government have a hands-off attitude regarding amendments to already negotiated agreements. Any changes, particularly on labor, are “unacceptable,” the CCE press release said.
It added that labor negotiations at this point would only come to disrupt the tightly knit supply chain created in the past 25 years among the three nations.
There is, however, pressure from labor because Mexican union leaders, now contending – or so they hope – in clean electoral procedures to gain leadership do not disapprove of including the U.S. labor inspectors.
The added clause proposes having U.S. inspectors verify in person in Mexican factories the enforcement of the labor compromises, now penned in the signed version of USMCA.
AMLO, clearly siding with the CCE position, said he opposed the presence of foreign inspectors as union elections is strictly a Mexican matter and that approving their presence would undermine the sovereignty of the nation.
And of now, there’s where things stand, with labor groups on both sides of the Mexico-U.S. border vying to impose their reasoning and will.
The problem continues to be that the USMCA is a signed deal and these labor conditions to sign the approval of the agreement may only pigeonhole it and it could be – cross fingers it will not happen – that they might just end up shooting it down.