Document Type


Publication Date

Spring 1995


During the debate leading to the passage of the North American Free Trade Agreement (“NAFTA”), a great deal of concern focused on the effect that a trade agreement such as the NAFTA might have on workers' rights. As a condition for the ratification of the NAFTA, Congress provided that the treaty would not “enter into force until the three countries enact their own national agreement on labor cooperation.” In response to this concern, the three signatory countries negotiated the North American Agreement on Labor Cooperation (“NAALC” or “Labor Agreement”). The NAALC establishes a formal and elaborate procedure to settle complaints concerning workers' rights. Although the NAFTA itself has received considerable attention in the popular press, and in academic circles, the NAALC has been relatively ignored. Whether this lack of attention is just an oversight, or is due to the belief that the NAALC is substantively meaningless, is not clear. What is clear, however, is that labor organizations appear ready to utilize the procedures available under the Labor Agreement. This article presents an overview of, and examines some key issues raised, but not clearly resolved, under the NAALC. This discussion is developed within the context of four complaints filed and recently decided pursuant to the Labor Agreement.



To view the content in your browser, please download Adobe Reader or, alternately,
you may Download the file to your hard drive.

NOTE: The latest versions of Adobe Reader do not support viewing PDF files within Firefox on Mac OS and if you are using a modern (Intel) Mac, there is no official plugin for viewing PDF files within the browser window.