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NAFTA prohibits collective bargaining in North Carolina

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Today Trade unions in Mexico, the US and Canada lodge this complaint

NAFTA prohibits collective bargaining in North Carolina

Author: Guadalupe Cruz Jaimes

Translated by Anoosha Boralessa (February 2016). Not reviewed by or any other organization or person.

Mexico DF, 23 April 2008 (CIMAC) – male and female workers in North Carolina, USA, request the right to freedom of association to carry out collective bargaining and to choose their representatives in every work centre. The labour rules in the North American Free Trade Treaty (NAFTA) deny this.

According to a Authentic Workers’ Front (FAT) statement, signed by 41 trade unions in Mexico, the United States and Canada, 650, 000 municipal workers in North Carolina, US, have had their labour rights and human rights violated by the local law that prohibits them from organizing themselves to implement a collective bargaining agreement and to elect their representatives in each work place”.

In response, today, the American Electricians, Radio and Machinery trade union, the Canadian Association of Labour Lawyers and forty five trade unions in Mexico, the Untied States and Canada, will lodge a complaint before the Canadian National Administrative Office – yet another attempt to compel the United States to comply with labour guidelines and international agreements on labour.
By these actions, they claim that the application of the General State of North Carolina 95-98 is provisionally suspended and is replaced by legislation that fully guarantees the right of all workers to organize themselves and to collective bargaining.

“Under the General Statute of North Carolina (NCGS) 95-98, it is a crime for male and female municipal workers in this North American state to ask, in an organized manner, for a Collective Agreement to be signed”, specifies the FAT statement.

On top of this prohibition, male and female workers in the public sector are subject to a string of violations of their labour and human rights such as racial discrimination, sexual discrimination, low wages, long working days, workplaces without the minimum health and safety preventative measures, forced labour for over-time without pay and poor treatment by their superiors.

Male and female municipal workers in hospitals, schools, transports and other services in North Carolina have gathered to achieve recognition and the right to organize themselves and to agree to collective bargaining.

In this struggle for respect for human and labour rights, indicates the FAT statement, male and female employers “have encountered strong opposition from some conservative sectors in society. Thus, problems of racial discrimination are added to the lack of collective mechanisms to defend labour conditions, such as better salaries and over-time pay”, they guarantee.

The problem has already been brought before the Inter American Commission for Human Rights and the International Labour Organization that issued a recommendation to the North American government to respect male and female workers’ labour rights such as: the right to join trade unions and collective bargaining such as occur in the rest of that country.

Despite this, “to date we have not had a response to the request and the parties have not been summoned to negotiate, thereby flouting international agreements on labour and trade matters which bind NAFTA member states”, they report.

Currently, to vindicate their rights, male and female workers “have to file proceedings outside the state. These proceedings take a long time and are therefore counterproductive.” So FAT points out.

The aim of male and female municipal workers in this state of the American Union is that once their labour rights are recognized, specifically the right to organize themselves, they may use collective bargaining as a vehicle to access the internal mechanisms in each business that provide the solution to the labour predicament that confronts the working base.

North Carolina represents a huge challenge for these workers because they also have to fight conservative groups in society, that weave in the racial factor as an element that makes a simple solution impossible, indicated the statement.

These prohibitions, the text continues, are clear violations by the United States of the North American Agreement for Labour Cooperation (NAALC by its English acronym), the labour side agreement to the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).


The three NAFTA member states have established an office to monitor compliance with NAALC. In Mexico and Canada, this division is called the National Administration Office (NAO). In the United States, it is called the Division of Trade, Administration and Technical Co-operation Agreements. So indicates the FAT statement.

Some of the organizations that will file the complaint today before the Canadian National Administrative Office are: United Electrical, Radio & Machine Workers of America, Canadian Association of Labour Lawyers, Alianza de Tranviarios de México, American Federation of Government Employees, AFL-CIO, Asociación Sindical de Pilotos Aviadores de México ASPA, Asociación de Sobrecargos de Aviación de México, Canadian Union of Postal Workers, Canadian Union of Public Employees.

Centrale des syndicats du Québec (CSQ), among others.

 source: CIMAC