As President Donald Trump put his signature to the new United State-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA), his Labor Department was announcing a new grant program to help Mexico improve its labor practices as the new trade treaty requires.
The U.S. Department of Labor said it will provide up to $27.2 million for effective enforcement of Mexico’s labor laws, and addressing child labor and forced labor in its supply chains. The grants also will support implementation of Mexico’s historic labor reforms, which were passed in 2019 in compliance with its commitments under the USMCA labor chapter and annex on collective bargaining.
“The department is committed to vigorously enforcing the labor obligations in our trade agreements,” said Deputy Undersecretary for International Affairs Martha E. Newton. “These grants help us to ensure a fair playing field for U.S. workers and to safeguard the dignity of work at home and abroad.”
To assist Mexico in fulfilling its USMCA labor commitments, grant activities will focus on implementing critical labor justice reforms to strengthen enforcement of labor laws, including by training the labor inspectorate and supporting the new Federal Center for Conciliation and Labor Registration, as well as developing the technical capacity of these institutions.
The grants will also help the Mexican government implement USMCA-related reforms to establish more democratic and transparent processes for collective bargaining and union representation, including secret ballot voting for leaders, representation challenges and collective bargaining agreements. In addition, the department’s assistance will seek to improve government protection of workers’ rights and implementation of labor reform in the Mexican automobile supply chain.
Many of the projects will focus on building the capacity of the Mexican government to effectively enforce and administer its labor laws. They will include efforts targeting the agriculture sector, a key sector in Mexico’s trade relationship with the United States. Verité will work towards improving compliance with labor laws related to child labor, forced labor, occupational safety and health, and other working conditions in the sugarcane and tobacco sector in Jalisco and Nayarit. In Oaxaca and Veracruz, World Vision will focus on preparing vulnerable women and girls for the future of work in the sugarcane and coffee sectors through skills training and improved access to labor rights protections.
Further, to help the Mexican government plan more impactful and targeted child labor policies, the programming will support implementation of a national child labor survey that will provide the Mexican government with important information about the prevalence of this abusive practice and where it is occurring.
The department’s child labor programs are intended to contribute to a reduction of child labor in Mexico’s supply chains, including in the production of agricultural goods traded with the United States, in an effort to promote the dignity of work and make trade fair between the two nations.
The grants will be made available through the Bureau of International Labor Affairs, whose mission is to promote a fair global playing field for workers in the United States and around the world by enforcing trade commitments, strengthening labor standards and combating international child labor, forced labor and human trafficking. For more information about the department’s work on these issues, visit http://www.dol.gov/agencies/ilab.