Mexico misses USMCA deadline for labor reforms; bill could move in Feb.

The Mexican Congress failed to meet a Jan. 1 deadline to pass legislation to establish labor reforms called for in the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement, with a bill introduced last month in the Chamber of Deputies unlikely to be addressed until February.


An annex to USMCA’s labor chapter says Mexico must adopt legislation establishing, among other things, “(i) an independent entity for conciliation and union collective bargaining agreement registration and (ii) independent Labor Courts for the adjudication of labor disputes.” The deal said the bill had to be passed by Jan. 1, adding that “entry into force of the agreement may be delayed until such legislation becomes effective.”

But the draft legislation, obtained by Inside U.S. Trade, is dated Dec. 22 and was introduced by the MORENA party in the Chamber of Deputies on Dec. 30. The next regular session of the Chamber is set for February. While a special session will be held in mid-January, Mexican media reports say the labor law is unlikely to come up, with lawmakers set to debate national security legislation.

If passed by the Chamber of Deputies, the bill will head to the Mexican Senate.

The implementation of Mexican labor reforms has been a key issue for U.S. Democratic lawmakers weighing whether to back USMCA. U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer said in December that he expected a vote on the deal’s implementing bill “within the next few months.”

Specifically, Democrats have, among other requests, called for enforceable labor provisions that address Mexican wages, job outsourcing to Mexico and so-called “protection contracts.”

The 204-page legislation addresses labor union “democracy” and freedom of collective bargaining, gender issues and “fundamental rights,” and new “labor justice,” according to an informal translation of the document.

Among its provisions is one that would broaden and clarify the powers of a “Labor Court” to “to achieve execution of labor judgments,” the document states. It would also address an “old claim of the workers of the field to be included minimum professional wages, which is why it is provided that the National Commission of Minimum Wages shall fix minimum wages professionals of said workers, considering the physical wear and tear caused by working conditions and salaries and benefits perceived by workers of establishments and dedicated companies to the branch of agricultural products.”

The legislation would also recognize and delineate the “right of workers to organize freely in the form and scope that they decide,” the document states, and would establish “principles of autonomy, equity, and democracy, legality, transparency, certainty, gratuity, immediacy” in the registration and “updating of union directives.”

The draft also includes transitional provisions that “constitute a critical path that must lead to a successful transition,” such as the establishment of mechanisms aimed at contemplating “the costs of operation, the necessary infrastructure, the training programs of the staff of the new jurisdictional and administrative bodies and the necessary coordination with the various institutions and public entities, national and international organizations, including the Liaison Unit that the Secretariat of Labor integrate[s] for such purposes.

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