[Federal Register Volume 59, Number 67 (Thursday, April 7, 1994)]
[Unknown Section]
[Page 0]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 94-8297]


[[Page Unknown]]

[Federal Register: April 7, 1994]


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DEPARTMENT OF LABOR

Office of the Secretary

 

Bureau of International Labor Affairs; North American Agreement 
on Labor Cooperation; Revised Notice of Establishment of U.S. National 
Administrative Office and Procedural Guidelines

AGENCY: Office of the Secretary, Labor.

ACTION: Revised notice of establishment and procedural guidelines.

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SUMMARY: This revised notice announces certain modifications to the 
notice of establishment of the U.S. National Administrative Office 
(Office), published in the Federal Register on December 30, 1993, and 
sets out procedural guidelines pertaining to the public submission, 
review, and reporting process utilized by the Office. The Office was 
established on January 1, 1994.
    The revised notice also affirms that the Office will conduct its 
activities in accordance with the cooperative principles upon which the 
North American Agreement on Labor Cooperation (Agreement) is based and 
provides for the office's significant role in the development and 
implementation of the cooperative activities envisioned by the Parties 
to the Agreement. Finally, the revised notice sets out procedures for 
inspection of public information and designation and treatment of 
information submitted in confidence.

EFFECTIVE DATE: April 1, 1994.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:
Andrew Samet, Associate Deputy Under Secretary, Bureau of International 
Labor Affairs, Department of Labor, 200 Constitution Avenue, NW., room 
S-2235, Washington, DC 20210. Telephone: (202) 219-6043 (this is not a 
toll-free number).

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: The Agreement was signed by the Presidents 
of the United States of America and of the United Mexican States and 
the Prime Minister of Canada on September 8, 9, 12, and 14, 1993. On 
January 1, 1994 the Governments of the countries exchanged notes 
providing for the entry into force of the Agreement. See section 
101(b)(2) of Public Law 103-182, the North American Free Trade 
Agreement Implementation Act.
    Article 15(1) of the Agreement requires each Party to establish a 
National Administrative Office at the federal government level and 
notify the other Parties of its location. Article 16 of the Agreement 
requires the Office to perform several functions: to serve as a U.S. 
point of contact with respect to the Agreement for other U.S. 
government agencies, for the National Administrative Offices of Canada 
and Mexico, and for the Secretariat of the Commission for Labor 
Cooperation established by the Agreement; to provide publicly available 
information about U.S. labor law matters upon request from the 
Secretariat, the Canadian or Mexican National Administrative Office, or 
an Evaluation Committee of Experts (ECE) formed under Articles 23-26 of 
the Agreement to analyze labor law matters; and to provide for the 
submission and receipt of public communications on labor law matters in 
Canada and Mexico and the review of such matters by the United States.
    Article 21 of the Agreement outlines procedures for National 
Administrative Offices to consult with one another about labor law in 
the three countries, its administration, or labor market conditions. In 
such consultations, a National Administrative Office must promptly 
provide to another National Administrative Office publicly available 
data or information, including: (a) Descriptions of laws, regulations, 
procedures, policies or practices; (b) proposed changes to such 
procedures, policies or practices; and (c) such clarifications and 
explanations related to such matters, as may assist the consulting 
National Administrative Office to better understand and respond to the 
issues raised.
    On December 30, 1993 the Department published a notice of 
establishment and request for comments. 58 FR 69410. The notice 
announced the establishment of the U.S. National Administrative Office, 
effective January 1, 1994, discussed its responsibilities, and set out 
a tentative framework to be utilized in regard to the public 
submission, review, and reporting responsibilities of the Office. 
Public comments and suggestions were invited on procedural guidelines 
for submitting and processing requests for review, with the comment 
period ending on February 15, 1994.
    Two sets of comments were timely received from the following 
organization:

--The Industrial Relations Committee of the U.S. Council for 
International Business (the Business Roundtable's Task Force on Human 
Resources and International Trade and Investment concurred in these 
comments, and they were also endorsed by the international labor 
affairs group of the National Association of Manufacturers); and
--The International Labor Rights Education and Research Fund.

    The Department has carefully reviewed and considered the comments 
in revising the earlier notice and developing the procedural 
guidelines. The revised notice is set out below.
    One year from the date of publication in the Federal Register of 
the revised notice, the Department will undertake a review of the 
operation and procedures of the U.S. National Administrative Office.

    Signed at Washington, DC, on April 1, 1994.
Robert B. Reich,
Secretary of Labor.

Revised Notice of Establishment of U.S. National Administrative Office 
and Procedural Guidelines

    Section A. Establishment.--
    1. Effective January 1, 1994, there is established, within the 
Bureau of International Labor Affairs (ILAB) of the Department of 
Labor, the U.S. National Administrative Office, as required by the 
North American Agreement on Labor Cooperation between the Government of 
the United States of America, the Government of Canada, and the 
Government of the United Mexican States.
    2. The Secretary of Labor shall designate the Secretary of the 
Office, who shall have expertise or experience in labor matters or 
other appropriate disciplines.
    Section B. Definitions.--
    As used herein:
    ``Agreement'' means the North American Agreement on Labor 
Cooperation between the Government of the United States of America, the 
Government of Canada, and the Government of the United Mexican States 
signed at Mexico City, Washington, and Ottawa on September 8, 9, 12, 
and 14, 1993;
    ``another Party'' or ``other Parties'' means a Party or Parties 
other than the United States of America;
    ``Council'' means the Council of the Commission for Labor 
Cooperation established under Article 8 of the Agreement;
    ``Evaluation Committee of Experts'' means an Evaluation Committee 
of Experts established under Article 23 of the Agreement;
    ``labor law'' means ``labor law'' as defined in Article 49 of the 
Agreement;
    ``labor organization'' includes any organization of any kind, 
including such local, national, and international organizations or 
federations, in which employees participate and which exists for the 
purpose, in whole or in part, of dealing with employers concerning 
grievances, labor disputes, wages, rates of pay, hours, or other terms 
or conditions of employment;
    ``non-governmental organization'' means any scientific, 
professional, business, non-profit, or public interest organization or 
association which is neither affiliated with, nor under the direction 
of, a government;
    ``Office'' means the U.S. National Administrative Office;
    ``Party'' means a Party to the Agreement;
    ``publicly available information'' means ``publicly available 
information'' as defined in Article 49 of the Agreement;
    ``person'' includes one or more individuals, non-governmental 
organizations, labor organizations, partnerships, associations, 
corporations, or legal representatives;
    ``Secretariat'' means the Secretariat of the Commission for Labor 
Cooperation established under Article 8 of the Agreement; and
    ``Secretary'' means the Secretary of the U.S. National 
Administrative Office.
    Section C. Functions of the Office.--
    1. The Office shall provide assistance to the Secretary of Labor on 
all matters concerning the Agreement, including the development and 
implementation of cooperative activities under Article 11, as set out 
in Section D.
    2. The Office shall serve as a point of contact with agencies of 
the United States Government, the National Administrative Offices of 
the other Parties, the Secretariat, and the Council.
    3. The Office shall promptly provide publicly available information 
requested by the Secretariat for reports and studies under Article 14 
of the Agreement, by a National Administrative Office of another Party, 
or by an Evaluation Committee of Experts.
    4. The Office shall receive, accept for review, and review 
submissions on labor law matters arising in the territory of another 
Party, as set out in Sections F, G, and H.
    5. The Office may, at the discretion of the Secretary, initiate a 
review of any matter covered by the Agreement.
    6. The Office may request consultations with the National 
Administrative Office of another Party in relation to that Party's 
labor law, its administration of the law, or labor market conditions in 
its territory, under Article 21(1) of the Agreement; as set out in 
Article 21(2), shall respond to requests for consultations made by 
another Party under Article 21(1); and shall participate in 
consultations conducted under Article 21(3) as appropriate.
    7. The Office shall publish periodic and special reports, as set 
out in Section J, collect and maintain information on labor law matters 
involving another Party, and compile materials concerning labor law 
legislation of another Party.
    8. The Office shall consider the views of committees established 
under Article 17 or 18 of the Agreement.
    9. The Office shall consult with appropriate entities of the U.S. 
government.
    Section D. Cooperation.--
    1. The Office shall conduct at all times its activities in 
accordance with the principles of cooperation and respect embodied in 
the Agreement. In its dealings with the National Administrative Office 
of the other Parties and all persons, the Office shall endeavor to the 
maximum extent possible to resolve matters through consultation and 
cooperation.
    2. The Secretary shall consult with the Secretary of the National 
Administrative Office of the appropriate Party or Parties at all states 
of the submission and review process set out in Sections G and H in 
order to obtain information and resolve issues that may arise.
    3. The Office shall assist the Secretary of Labor in developing and 
implementing cooperative activities under Article 11 of the Agreement, 
which may include seminars, training sessions, working groups, 
conferences, joint research projects (including sectoral studies), and 
technical assistance, and may be carried out through such other means 
as the Parties may agree. In deciding which cooperative activities 
should be promoted by the Council under Article 11, the Secretary of 
Labor shall give due regard to the recommendations of the Office.
    4. The Office shall receive and consider suggestions for 
cooperative activities submitted by any person.
    Section E. Information.--
    1. The Secretary shall maintain a reading room where submissions, 
public files, transcripts of hearings, Federal Register notices, 
reports, advisory committee information, and other public information 
shall be available for inspection during normal business hours, subject 
to the terms and conditions of the Freedom of Information Act, 5 U.S.C. 
552.
    2. Information submitted by a person to the Office in confidence 
shall be treated as exempt from public inspection if the information 
meets the requirements of 5 U.S.C. 552(b). Each person requesting such 
treatment shall clearly mark ``submitted in confidence'' on each page 
or portion of a page so submitted and furnish an explanation as to the 
need for exemption from public inspection. If the material is not 
accepted in confidence it will be returned promptly to the submitter 
with an explanation for the action taken.
    3. The Office shall be sensitive to the needs of individuals' 
confidentiality and shall make every effort to protect such interests.
    Section F. Submissions.--
    1. Any person may file a submission with the Office regarding labor 
law matters arising in the territory of another Party. A single copy is 
satisfactory for filing. Filing may be by hand delivery, mail delivery, 
or facsimile transmission.
    2. The submission shall identify clearly the person filing the 
submission and shall be signed and dated. It shall state with 
specificity the matters that the submitter requests the Office to 
consider and include supporting information available to the submitter. 
To the fullest extent possible, the submission shall address and 
explain whether:
    (a) the matters complained of appear to demonstrate action 
inconsistent with another Party's obligations under Part II of the 
Agreement;
    (b) there has been harm to the submitter or other persons, and, if 
so, to what extent;
    (c) the matters complained of appear to demonstrate a pattern of 
non-enforcement of labor law by another Party;
    (d) relief has been sought under the domestic laws of another 
Party, and, if so, the status of any legal proceedings; and
    (e) the matters complained of are pending before an international 
body.
    Section G. Acceptance of Submissions.--
    1. Within 60 days after the filing of a submission, the Secretary 
shall determine whether to accept the submission for review. The 
Secretary may communicate with the submitter during this period 
regarding any matter relating to the determination.
    2. In general, the Secretary shall accept a submission for review 
if it raises issues relevant to labor law matters in the territory of 
another Party and if a review would further the objectives of the 
Agreement.
    3. The Secretary may decline to accept a submission for review if:
    (a) the submission does not identify clearly the person filing the 
submission, is not signed and dated, or is not sufficiently specific to 
determine the nature of the request and permit an appropriate review;
    (b) the statements contained in the submission, even if 
substantiated, would not constitute a failure of another Party to 
comply with its obligations under Part II of the Agreement;
    (c) the statements contained in the submission or available 
information demonstrates that appropriate relief has not been sought 
under the domestic laws of another Party, or that the matter or a 
related matter is pending before an international body; or
    (d) the submission is substantially similar to a recent submission 
and significant, new information has not been made available.
    4. If the Secretary accepts a submission for review, the Secretary 
shall publish promptly in the Federal Register a notice of the 
determination, a statement specifying why review is warranted, and the 
terms of the review, and notify promptly in writing such persons as may 
be appropriate.
    5. If the Secretary declines to accept a submission for review, the 
Secretary shall notify promptly in writing the submitter and provide 
the reasons for the determination.
    Section H. Reviews and Public Reports.--
    1. Following a determination by the Secretary to accept a 
submission for review, the Office shall conduct such further 
examination of the submission as may be appropriate to assist the 
Office to better understand and publicly report on the issues raised. 
The Office shall keep the submitter apprised of the status of the 
review.
    2. Except for information exempt from public inspection pursuant to 
Section E, information relevant to the review shall be placed in a 
public file. Information exempt from public inspection shall be placed 
in a separate file.
    3. The Secretary shall hold promptly a hearing on the submission, 
unless the Secretary determines that a hearing would not be a suitable 
method for carrying out the Office's responsibilities under paragraph 
1.
    4. Notice of a hearing under paragraph 3 shall be published in the 
Federal Register 30 days in advance. The notice shall contain such 
information as the Secretary deems relevant, including information 
pertaining to requests to present oral testimony and written briefs.
    5. The hearing shall be open to the public. All proceedings shall 
be conducted in English, with simultaneous translation provided as the 
Secretary deems necessary.
    6. The hearing shall be conducted by the Secretary or the 
Secretary's designee, assisted by the Office staff and legal counsel, 
as appropriate. The public file shall be made part of the hearing 
record at the commencement of the hearing.
    7. The Secretary of the National Administrative Office of another 
Party, or such Secretary's designee, may participate in the hearing.
    8. Within 120 days of the acceptance of a submission for review, 
unless circumstances require an extension of time of up to 60 
additional days, the Secretary shall issue a public report, which shall 
include a summary of the proceedings and any findings and 
recommendations.
    Section I. Recommendations to the Secretary of Labor.--
    1. If, after consultations under Article 21 of the Agreement, the 
Secretary determines that the matter has not been resolved 
satisfactorily, the Secretary shall recommend that the Secretary of 
Labor request consultations at the ministerial level under Article 22 
of the Agreement.
    2. If, following ministerial consultations under Article 22 of the 
Agreement, the Secretary determines that the matter has not been 
resolved satisfactorily and is within the scope of Article 23 of the 
Agreement, the Secretary shall recommend that the Secretary of Labor 
request that an Evaluation Committee of Experts be established under 
Article 23.
    3. If, following presentation of a final Evaluation Committee of 
Experts report under Article 26(1) of the Agreement, the Secretary 
determines that the matter has not been resolved satisfactorily, the 
Secretary shall provide recommendations to the Secretary of Labor 
regarding pursuit of dispute resolution under Part Five of the 
Agreement. Before making such recommendations, the Secretary shall 
consult with appropriate entities of the U.S. government.
    Section J. Periodic and Special Reports.--
    1. The Office shall publish annually a list of submissions on labor 
law matters, including a summary of the disposition of the submissions.
    2. The Office shall obtain the lists of public communications on 
labor law matters published by the National Administrative Offices of 
the other Parties under Article 16(3) of the Agreement and make such 
lists available at the Office's reading room.
    3. The Office may publish special reports on any topic under its 
purview on its own initiative, or upon request from the Secretary of 
Labor, including reviews of the effectiveness of labor law enforcement 
in the territories of the other Parties.

[FR Doc. 94-8297 Filed 4-6-94; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 4510-28-M