Senate Dems urge Guatemala to comply with labor regulations

Three Senate Democrats on Wednesday called on U.S. trade officials to resume litigation if Guatemala fails to effectively enforce its labor laws.

Senate Finance Committee Chairman Ron Wyden (Ore.) and Sens. Ben Cardin (Md.) and Sherrod Brown (Ohio) said they the United States is at a "critical crossroads" for Guatemala to move forward on its labor law compliance as required by the Dominican Republic-Central America-United States Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA-DR)."

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Guatemala needs to show that it has taken the steps outlined in the [labor] plan and that the reforms it is undertaking are making a difference for workers," the three senators said.

"If Guatemala misses the deadline, USTR [the U.S. Trade Representative] should move immediately to restart the litigation. Guatemala should receive no further extensions."

They argued that the Obama administration's decision to file the case in 2011 illustrated the seriousness of the situation in Guatemala.

"Time is running out," they said. "Guatemalan workers have waited far too long for positive change."

On Monday, the office of U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman announced that the United States has given Guatemala another four weeks to get its labor enforcement plan up to speed.  

“Effective implementation of the enforcement plan is critical if Guatemala is to demonstrate its capacity to make good on enforcement promises," the office said.

"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."