The Mexican National Administrative Office (NAO) issued an opinion in response to petitions filed by U.S. and Mexican workers’ rights advocates for violations of the North American Agreement on Labor Cooperation (NAALC). In its decision, the NAO agreed that apparent violations had occurred denying workers protection under the NAALC. The opinion calls on the Mexican Department of Labor to meet and confer with U.S. Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis to examine what is being done to guarantee H-2 workers’ rights. Rachel Micah-Jones, Executive Director of Centro de los Derechos del Migrante, Inc., (CDM), stated, “This opinion is groundbreaking and comes at an incredibly important time – on the heels of Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto’s visit last week with President Obama, and the renewed bipartisan interest in addressing immigration reform.”
The petition by CDM, former migrant workers, and a binational coalition of workers’ rights advocates was filed on behalf of traveling fair and carnival workers who were recruited to work in the United States on temporary H-2B visas. The petition alleged that the United States is in violation of the NAALC because the United States routinely has allowed companies to pay H-2B workers less than the minimum hourly wage and has denied them overtime and reimbursement for travel, visa and recruitment costs. In addition, the petition stated that workers face multiple barriers in asserting their rights or enforcing the existing worker protection laws, in violation of the NAALC.
CDM and copetitioners filed the original petition on September 19, 2011, along with a supplemental memorandum that was filed on August 16, 2012. The NAO’s opinion was in response to three separate petitions filed under the NAALC in 2003, 2005 and 2011. The 2003 petition raised issues about the treatment of agricultural workers in North Carolina. In 2005 human rights organizations in the United States and Mexico joined 17 forestry workers to complain that temporary workers admitted under the H-2B program do not have adequate access to U.S. courts to address grievances as called for under the NAALC.
|Informe de Revisión de las Comunicaciones Publicas MEX 2003-1, MEX 2005-1, y MEX 2011-1 de la Oficina Administrativa Nacional de Mexico al Amparo del ACLAN (pdf)|
The following individuals are available for comment:
Rachel Micah-Jones, Executive Director, Centro de los Derechos del Migrante
Art Read, General Counsel, Friends of Farmworkers
215-733-0878, ext. 150
Michael Dale, Executive Director, Northwest Workers’ Justice Project
(for the 2005 petition only)
Amelia Furrow, Economic Justice Advocate, Paso del Norte Civil Rights Project, Proyecto de Derechos Civiles Paso del Norte
915-532-3799 ext. 10