Canadian Agency Upholds
Unions in Echlin Case
UE members backed the right to organize in March
1998 as the U.S. government held a hearing on a complaint brought by UE and other unions
that charged the Mexican government and Echlin manage-ment of violating the rights of
workers at Echlins ITAPSA plant. The U.S. government upheld that complaint in August
of last year; last month the Canadian govern-ment issued a similar finding.
The Canadian agency that administers the NAFTA labor side agreement issued
a report on Dec. 15 charging the Mexican government with failing to enforce its own laws
and regulations when workers at the U.S.-owned ITAPSA automotive plant tried to organize
an independent union.
The decision by Canadas National Administrative Office sets the
stage for consultation between Mexican and Canadian Labor Ministers aimed at protecting
workers rights in Mexico.
Canadas first labor rights complaint under the NAFTA side agreement
was filed by the Canadian Steelworkers with the support of other members of the
trinational Echlin/Dana Workers Alliance, including UE. UE Genl. Sec.-Treas. Bob Clark was
the only U.S. speaker in testimony before the Canadian NAO on Sept. 14.
PARALLELS U.S. CASE
The Canadian case parallels the case filed with the U.S. NAO by UE and the
Dana Workers Alliance last year. In August, the U.S. NAO ruled that the Mexican government
failed to enforce its own laws protecting worker rights and agreed with the unions that
Echlin management allowed thugs from a government-controlled union to disrupt a vote for
an independent union in September 1997. (The ITAPSA plant was owned by Echlin Inc.; the
Dana Corp. purchased Echlin in July 1998.)
As a result of the U.S. NAO decision, consultations between the U.S. and
Mexican governments have been initiated in the US case, with no outcome expected for
The Canadian NAO decision calls for discussions between Canadian Labour
Minister Claudette Bradshaw and her Mexican counterpart on the neutrality of Mexicos
labor tribunals and procedural guarantees for unions appearing before it. As well, the
labor ministers must review balloting procedures at votes to determine which union is to
represent workers, so that workers freedom of association rights are protected.
Access for workers to the contents of their collective agreements, and to
the bylaws of unions representing them, will also be the subject of discussions between
the labor ministers, according to the recommendation.