On October 26, 2004, the Asociacion de Trabajadores Fronterizos and five of its individual members filed a lawsuit under the Trade Act of 1974, 19 U.S.C. §§2296 & 2320, against the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas, El Paso Division. The plaintiffs, represented by attorneys from Texas RioGrande Legal Aid and Public Citizen Litigation Group asked the court for declaratory judgment, injunctive relief and litigation costs, claiming that the Department of Labor violated the Trade Act in its administration of job benefits by providing remedial education instead of bilingual vocational training sufficient to make participants job-ready upon completion.
Plaintiiff Asociacion de Trabajadores Fronterizos (ATF) is a membership organization comprised of workers whose jobs were lost or threatened by foreign competition resulting from NAFTA. Its name translates to "Association of Border Workers." The members of ATF are primarily garment workers of Mexican national origin who communicate in Spanish and have limited English-communication abilities. The named plaintiffs Plaintiffs are members of ATF whose primary residences are in El Paso County, Texas.
Defendant Department of Labor (DOL) is the federal agency responsible for administering the Trade Adjustment Assistance job training benefits to displaced workers provided for under the Trade Act of 1974.
On April 3, 2002, Plaintiffs, along with another party, first filed a lawsuit against the DOL that also named the Texas Workforce Commission (TWC), the Upper Rio Grande Workforce Development Board, and the commissioners and directors of these organizations as defendants. This lawsuit, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas El Paso Division, included the Trade Act violations in its causes of action. This case is not in our database, but its docket number is 3:02-CV-00131. Judge Frank Montalvo severed the claims against the DOL on October 20, 2004 according to a motion by the plaintiffs.
Prior to the severance, ATF filed a lawsuit on June 17, 2004, as the sole plaintiff, against the DOL under the Trade Act in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. On October 20, 2004, the order to transfer the case to the Western District of Texas was granted, with the transfer occurring on December 1, 2004. This case is also not in our database, but its docket number is 1:04-CV-00993. These events resulted in the two concurrent cases in the Western District of Texas under Judge Montalvo.
Plaintiffs filed the complaint in this case on October 26, 2004 and filed a motion for summary judgment on November 5, 2004. Following a hearing on the summary judgment motion on May 24, 2005, the case was referred to Judge Edward Leavy for mediation on June 03, 2005. On December 29, 2005, upon completion of mediation, Plaintiffs filed an unopposed motion to dismiss that included an executed copy of the settlement agreement reached by the parties.
On December 30, 2005, Judge Frank Montalvo granted Plaintiffs' motion to dismiss the case with prejudice and entered a final judgment. In the final judgment, the Court retained jurisdiction to enforce the terms the settlement agreement. The motion to dismiss, corresponding order and the final judgment were filed under this case and the original Texas case. Therefore, the other Texas case concluded with the same settlement agreement and closed on December 30, 2005.
Under the terms of the settlement agreement, the DOL and other defendants must dedicate $6 million in funding to establish a project for Limited English-Proficient (LEP) displaced workers in the El Paso Area. This program will make vocational training, customized training, on-the-job training and remedial education available to eligible participants. Policy changes included recognition of the effectiveness of, and a focus on, dual-language training and a required 80% wage replacement goal. The DOL was also required to issue the Training and Employment Guidance letter within 30 days of the agreement. In addition, counsel for the Plaintiffs, Texas RioGrande Legal Aide, was awarded $30,000 for litigation costs.Carasusana Wall - 06/07/2010