Mexico Wins First USMCA RRLM Case


The first arbitration panel under the US-Mexico-Canada rapid response labor mechanism has ruled in favor of Mexico in the case of the San Martín mine, located in Sombrerete, Zacatecas.

The three members of the panel determined that they did not have jurisdiction to rule on the denial of union rights at the mine, because the problems occurred before the USMCA took effect, according to a release from Mexico’s Ministry of Economy.

The trinational panel concluded that the denial of union rights can only be attributed to events after the entry into force of the USMCA and Mexico’s 2019 Labor Reform. The facts presented by the United States did not meet these criteria, as established by the panel.

“This ruling is of utmost relevance, since it sets a precedent regarding the non-retroactivity of trade agreements. For Mexico, it is essential to avoid opening up this possibility both in labor disputes and in other commercial disputes,” according to a translation of the Spanish-language release

The US invoked the RRM in this case in June of 2023, and the Mexican response cited this objection.  

In the case of the San Martín Mine, although the Grupo México company has repeatedly denied workers the rights to freedom of association and collective bargaining throughout the 16 years of conflict, these irregularities were or are in the process of being corrected by the authorities, according to the Ministry.

The Federal Conciliation and Arbitration Board prior to the dispute was raised by the United States had already attributed responsibility for the strike to the employers, ordering the payment of lost wages and various benefits.

The Mexican government suggested that when the USMCA comes up for review in 2026, the three countries should look at ways to improve the RRLM.



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