Published 29 May 2020
The Protection of Workers Rights Under the USMCA: A Brand-New Deal, A Paradigm Shift or A Missed Opportunity?
by Maria Anna Corvaglia, School of Law, University of Leeds
One of the most striking differences between the new U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) and the original NAFTA consists in its 'Labor Chapter' (Chapter 23). USMCA Chapter 23 set ambitious goals, from the elimination of sex-based discrimination in the workplace (23.9), to the protection of migrant workers (23.8) and including the respect of acceptable conditions of work with respect to minimum wages (23.3). For this reason, USMCA Chapter 23 assumes a particular relevance in the landscape of the increasing inclusion of labor provisions in the design of preferential trade agreements (PTAs) signed by the U.S. Adopting a comparative legal approach, the paper challenges the rhetoric around Chapter 23 under two perspectives: novelty and enforceability. Under this double perspective, the paper will evaluate the innovative contribution that the workers' right provisions of USMCA Chapter 23 has made, with a comparative lens. On the one hand, the provisions of USMCA Chapter 23 will be analyzed in comparison with the North American Agreement on Labor Cooperation, the side agreement of NAFTA providing the detailed framework to enforce cooperation on domestic labor law between NAFTA Parties. On the other hand, the labor provisions of USMCA Chapter 23 will be compared to Chapter 19 of the Trans-Pacific Partnership TPP (now the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership - CPTPP).
The article is available for download here www.transnational-dispute-management.com/article.asp?key=2742 and is part of the TDM 3 (2020) The United States - Mexico - Canada Agreement (USMCA) Special Issue.