WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Ben Cardin, D-Md., Senate Finance Committee Chairman Ron Wyden, D-Ore., , and Senator Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, today called on the Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR) to resume litigation if Guatemala fails to effectively enforce its labor laws, as required by the Dominican Republic-Central America-United States Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA-DR).
“We are at a critical crossroads with Guatemala over its failure to effectively enforce its labor laws, contrary to obligations it undertook in the Dominican Republic-Central America-United States Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA-DR). The latest deadline for Guatemala to demonstrate compliance with the labor enforcement plan is fast approaching. Guatemala needs to show that it has taken the steps outlined in the plan and that the reforms it is undertaking are making a difference for workers. If Guatemala misses the deadline, USTR should move immediately to restart the litigation. Guatemala should receive no further extensions.
“Effective implementation of the enforcement plan is critical if Guatemala is to demonstrate its capacity to make good on enforcement promises. Moreover, it is essential to give U.S. companies the confidence that they are doing business in a country that takes its labor rules seriously, and for Guatemala’s workers to be secure in knowing that the law will be followed.
“The Administration’s decision to file this case reflects the gravity of the situation in Guatemala with respect to nonenforcement of labor laws, and it was important that USTR took this action. We appreciate the lengths to which USTR and its staff, together with the Department of Labor, have gone to resolve this matter, as evidenced most recently by Ambassador Froman’s trip to Guatemala in August. We value his meeting with the Solidarity Center and worker representatives during his visit, many of whom voice their concerns at great personal risk. Time is running out. Guatemalan workers have waited far too long for positive change.”