U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement Committee Takes Action
Push for Review of Labor Rights Violations at MasAir Cargo Airline
In a significant development under the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement’s (USMCA) Interagency Labor Committee for Monitoring and Enforcement, the focus has shifted to allegations of labor rights violations at Mexico City’s MasAir cargo airline. Today, the committee, co-chaired by the Department of Labor and the Trade Representative, formally requested the Mexican government’s intervention in reviewing these claims.
Pilots’ Union Raises Concerns
A Historic Use of the Rapid Response Mechanism
This call for review stems from a petition submitted on July 31, 2023, by the Asociación Sindical de Pilotos Aviadores de México (ASPA), an airline pilots’ union. ASPA has leveled allegations against Aerotransportes MAS de Carga S.A. de C.V., a regional air cargo services provider, asserting violations of pilots’ freedom of association and collective bargaining rights. Notably, this marks the first instance of invoking the Rapid Response Mechanism in the services sector.
Prioritizing Labor Commitments
Collaboration Amidst Allegations
Deputy Undersecretary for International Affairs, Thea Lee, stressed the overarching importance of adhering to labor commitments under the USMCA. Lee noted, “This request for review is another example that compliance with the labor commitments under the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement is a priority for the U.S. in all sectors the Rapid Response Labor Mechanism covers.” She further emphasized the anticipation of ongoing cooperation with Mexico’s government in addressing the critical concerns raised by this review.
Allegations and Claims
Challenging Airline Practices
ASPA’s petition underscores a series of concerning incidents involving MasAir. These include allegations of intimidation, interference, and reprisals against pilots associated with the union. Most notably, eight MasAir pilots were allegedly dismissed for attempting to affiliate with ASPA. Furthermore, ASPA contends that the airline manipulated the outcome of a collective bargaining agreement vote in favor of the incumbent union, Sindicato de Trabajadores de la Industria Aérea y Conexos de la República.
Strengthening Labor Rights
United States’ Commitment
Ambassador Katherine Tai highlighted the pivotal role of workers’ freedom to choose their preferred unions in the context of the Rapid Response Labor Mechanism (RRLM). Ambassador Tai remarked, “Workers’ ability to affiliate with the union of their choice is a key tenet of the freedom of association and collective bargaining rights the RRLM is designed to protect.” She emphasized the unwavering commitment of the United States to safeguard labor rights enshrined within the USMCA across various industries, including services, and expressed optimism about collaborating with Mexico to address these issues.
Mechanism in Action
Review and Investigation Timeline
In accordance with the provisions of the USMCA, the committee holds the authority to activate the Rapid Response Labor Mechanism when credible evidence supports claims of labor rights infringement. Mexico’s government now faces a 10-day window to determine whether it will undertake a comprehensive review. Subsequently, a 45-day period has been allocated for the investigation of these allegations and the presentation of its findings.
Focus on MasAir
Scope and Workforce
Based in Mexico City, MasAir operates as a cargo transportation services provider, catering to both North and South American regions. With a workforce of approximately 340 individuals, including around 100 pilots, the airline plays a crucial role in the regional air cargo landscape.
As this investigation unfolds, the world watches how these allegations and the response from the Mexican government will shape labor rights protections under the USMCA, further underscoring the significance of the Rapid Response Labor Mechanism in safeguarding the rights of workers across sectors.