The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release

Gebe Martinez or Beatriz Lopez

Mexico Accepts NAFTA-Related Complaint Against Alabama Racial Profiling Law

Complaint Filed by SEIU and Mexican Lawyers Group


The Alabama anti-immigrant law and a complaint that it breaches the supplemental labor agreement of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) are under review by the Mexican government, the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) has been advised.

Mexico's Secretary of Labor and Social Welfare issued a response to the path breaking complaint filed earlier this year with the Mexican government by SEIU and the Mexican National Association of Democratic Lawyers (ANAD), which cited the NAFTA side agreement, North American Agreement on Labor Cooperation (NAALC).

In a recent letter to the leaders of SEIU and ANAD, the Mexican government accepted the complaint and stated it is seeking consultation with the U.S. government. The NAALC contains the U.S. commitment to uphold labor principles and to effectively enforce labor laws related to those principles. The NAFTA labor agreement is the only trade pact with a clause that specifically protects the rights of migrant workers, requiring that they be given the same legal protection as U.S. nationals regarding working conditions.

The SEIU/ANAD complaint details how Alabama's anti-immigrant law is "discriminatory" and "abusive" toward all workers - not just immigrants - and alleges HB 56 violates international human rights and labor rights standards and undermines the ability of federal authorities to effectively enforce labor and employment laws.

Alabama's exports to Mexico totaled more than $1.7 billion in 2011, a 53.4 percent increase over 2008. Of Alabama's largest export products in 2011, automotive products and bituminous coal stand out. Several of the motor vehicles assembled in Alabama -- Honda's Odyssey, Pilot and Ridgeline and Mercedes Benz's M Class sport utility vehicle -- are sold in Mexico, making it an important market for these Alabama products.

SEIU International Secretary-Treasurer Eliseo Medina said in a statement: "We hope that further review of Alabama's racial profiling law will make clear its devastating impact on workers, on the law's potential for minimum wage and overtime violations, and on workers' freedom of association which are supposed to be protected under the NAFTA labor clause."

Read the original complaint in English, or in Spanish.

With 2 million members in Canada, the United States and Puerto Rico, SEIU is the fastest-growing union in the Americas. Focused on uniting workers in healthcare, public services and property services, SEIU members are winning better wages, healthcare and more secure jobs for our communities, while uniting their strength with their counterparts around the world to help ensure that workers--not just corporations and CEOs--benefit from today's global economy.