OSEC Notices

DATES: Effective Date: This document is effective as of December 21, 2006.   [12/21/2006]
[PDF]
FR Doc E6-21837

[Federal Register: December 21, 2006 (Volume 71, Number 245)]
[Notices]               
[Page 76691-76696]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]
[DOCID:fr21de06-79]                         


[[Page 76691]]

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DEPARTMENT OF LABOR

Office of the Secretary

 
Bureau of International Labor Affairs; Notice of Reassignment of 
Functions of Office of Trade Agreement Implementation to Office of 
Trade and Labor Affairs; Notice of Procedural Guidelines

December 14, 2006.
AGENCY: Office of the Secretary, Labor.

ACTION: Notice of Reassignment of Functions of Office of Trade 
Agreement Implementation to Office of Trade and Labor Affairs; Notice 
of Procedural Guidelines.

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SUMMARY: The Secretary of Labor announces that the functions of the 
Office of Trade Agreement Implementation (OTAI) of the Bureau of 
International Labor Affairs (ILAB) have been reassigned to the newly 
established Office of Trade and Labor Affairs (OTLA). The OTLA will 
serve as the Contact Point for purposes of administering the labor 
chapters of the U.S.-Australia, U.S.-Bahrain, U.S.-Chile, U.S.-Morocco, 
U.S.-Singapore, and U.S.-Dominican Republic-Central America (CAFTA-DR) 
Free Trade Agreements, as well as labor provisions of other free trade 
agreements to which the United States may become a party to the extent 
authorized in such agreements, implementing legislation, or 
accompanying statements of administrative action. The OTLA will 
maintain the designation of the National Administrative Office and 
continue its function to administer Departmental responsibilities under 
the North American Agreement on Labor Cooperation. The address for this 
office is: Office of Trade and Labor Affairs, Bureau of International 
Labor Affairs, U.S. Department of Labor, 200 Constitution Avenue, NW., 
Room S-5303, Washington, DC 20210. The telephone numbers are (office) 
202-693-4887 and (facsimile) 202-693-4851.
    In addition, this notice sets out revised procedural guidelines for 
the Department of Labor's receipt and review of public submissions on 
matters related to Free Trade Agreement (FTA) labor chapters and the 
North American Agreement on Labor Cooperation (NAALC), and describes 
functions of the OTLA.

DATES: Effective Date: This document is effective as of December 21, 
2006.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Director, Office of Trade and Labor 
Affairs, Bureau of International Labor Affairs, U.S. Department of 
Labor, 200 Constitution Avenue, NW., Room S-5303, Washington, DC 20210. 
Telephone: (202) 693-4887 (this is not a toll-free number). Facsimile: 
202-693-4851. E-mail: OTLA@dol.gov.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: The Bureau of International Labor Affairs 
(ILAB) has undertaken a reorganization that combines all of ILAB's 
trade-related responsibilities into a new office, the Office of Trade 
and Labor Affairs (OTLA). The OTLA is comprised of three new divisions: 
the Trade Policy and Negotiations Division; the Economic and Labor 
Research Division; and the Trade Agreement Administration and Technical 
Cooperation Division. This reorganization will enhance coordination and 
synergy among the various ILAB organizational units conducting trade 
negotiations, research, reporting, and implementation of the labor 
provisions of free trade agreements. The OTLA will exercise all 
functional responsibilities formerly exercised by the OTAI.
    The OTLA is responsible for implementing trade-related labor policy 
and coordinating international technical cooperation in support of the 
labor provisions in FTAs and the NAALC. The OTLA's functions include: 
(1) Coordinating the development and implementation of cooperative 
activities stipulated in the NAALC and FTA labor chapters; (2) 
Providing for the receipt and consideration of public submissions on 
matters related to the NAALC and FTA labor chapters; (3) Serving as the 
U.S. government contact point and resource for information on matters 
related to the NAALC and FTA labor chapters for the general public, the 
National Administrative Offices (NAOs) of Canada and Mexico, for the 
Secretariat of the Commission for Labor Cooperation and other such 
entities created under the FTA labor chapters.
    The NAALC and the labor provisions in several recently concluded 
FTAs require that the OTLA provide for the receipt and review of 
submissions on labor law matters in the countries signatories to the 
Agreements. Further details concerning submissions, cooperative 
activities, and information available to the public appear in the body 
of the Federal Register notice, Sections C through I below.
    On December 23, 2004, the Bureau of International Labor Affairs 
published a Federal Register notice informing the public of the 
renaming of the National Administrative Office as the Office of Trade 
Agreement Implementation; designating the office as the contact point 
for the NAALC and the labor provisions of FTAs; and requesting comments 
on the proposed procedural guidelines for the receipt and review of 
public submissions (69 FR 77128 (Dec. 23, 2004)). The notice provided a 
60-day period for submitting written comments, which closed on February 
22, 2005. During this period, comments were received from three 
parties: the American Federation of Labor-Congress of Industrial 
Organizations (AFL-CIO), the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, and Mexico's 
NAO. The comments were given careful consideration and where 
appropriate, resulted in modifications to the proposed procedural 
guidelines.

AFL-CIO Comments

    The AFL-CIO commented that the U.S.-Jordan FTA was excluded from 
the list of agreements that will be administered by the OTLA and 
requested that this omission be remedied. The Agreement was excluded 
because the Department of Labor is not designated as the contact point 
for the labor provisions of the Jordan Agreement. The four FTAs 
(Morocco, Australia, Dominican Republic-Central America, and Bahrain) 
that became effective after the publication of the Department's 
December 2004 Notice have been added to the list of covered FTAs, and 
future FTAs will be covered by these procedures to the extent 
authorized in such agreements, implementing legislation, or 
accompanying statements of administrative action.
    The AFL-CIO commented that the proposed guidelines are more 
restrictive than the current procedural guidelines for the NAALC, and 
could reduce the number of meritorious complaints that are accepted. In 
this regard, the AFL-CIO contends that the proposed procedural 
guidelines may exceed the Department's authority because they expand 
the grounds upon which the OTLA may reject a submission, narrow the 
class of acceptable submissions, and lack ``broad direction to accept 
most submissions.'' For example, the AFL-CIO commented that Section F.2 
of the proposed guidelines adds new requirements for including copies 
of relevant laws and regulations in submissions, and improperly 
requires a statement of whether the issue affects trade between the 
parties.
    It is not the Department's intent to limit the acceptance of public 
submissions under the new procedural guidelines. The criteria for 
evaluating submissions in section F.2 are intended to encourage the 
submission of relevant information to improve the OTLA's ability to 
consider and review submissions. Moreover, section F.2

[[Page 76692]]

provides that a submission address the criteria ``as relevant * * * 
[and] to the fullest extent possible.'' The OTLA recognizes that there 
may be circumstances where a factor is not relevant to a submission or 
where information on that factor is unavailable. Under those 
circumstances, the absence of such information would not be 
determinative in the OTLA's consideration and review of submissions. 
For example, the instruction that submissions include copies of 
relevant laws and regulations to the extent practicable reflects the 
OTLA's goal of obtaining the maximum amount of information relevant to 
the matters raised in the submission. Similarly, the instruction that 
submitters state whether the issues raised in a submission affect trade 
between the parties is a relevant factor relating to a potential 
decision to invoke dispute settlement under the FTAs.
    The AFL-CIO commented that section C.7 of the proposed guidelines 
limits the basis for consultations by restricting consultations to 
``any matter arising under a labor chapter or the NAALC,'' instead of 
``any matter relating to another Party's labor laws, administration, or 
labor market conditions.'' The AFL-CIO notes, correctly, that Article 
21.1 of the NAALC allows consultations regarding ``any matter relating 
to another Party's labor laws, administration, or labor market 
conditions.'' The intent of section C.7 was to allow for consultations 
regarding any matter for which consultations are expressly contemplated 
under the labor chapters of existing and future FTAs. Therefore, in 
response to the AFL-CIO's comment, the OTLA has revised section C.1 and 
C.7 to make clear that the basis for consultations under the NAALC has 
not changed.
    The AFL-CIO commented that section F.2(e) of the proposed 
guidelines unnecessarily requires a submission to address whether or 
not the violation alleged in the submission reflects something other 
than a reasonable exercise of discretion or a bona fide decision 
regarding the allocation of resources. The AFL-CIO contends that this 
factor is irrelevant to many submissions, and burdensome to document 
inasmuch as it requires submitters to demonstrate a negative. The 
Department concurs with the AFL-CIO, and therefore this criterion has 
been omitted from the final notice.
    Finally, the AFL-CIO commented that section G.2 of the proposed 
guidelines ``eliminates the presumption in favor of acceptance'' of a 
submission, and is likely to result in the rejection of meritorious 
submissions. The AFL-CIO also commented that the proposed guidelines 
are likely to create confusion and produce inconsistent rulings by the 
OTLA because of the broad range of factors to be considered before the 
OTLA may accept or reject submissions. The AFL-CIO contends it is not 
clear how the OTLA will weigh the G.2 factors in considering whether to 
accept or reject a submission.
    Section G.2 clearly sets forth the criteria to be considered by the 
OTLA in deciding whether to accept a submission. The purpose of the 
change to section G.2 was to combine all the factors to be considered 
by the OTLA when deciding to accept or reject a submission; it was not 
intended as a functional change in how the OTLA reviews submissions for 
acceptance. The change to section G.2 was intended to eliminate any 
perception that the OTLA's review process resulted in the automatic 
acceptance of submissions. Under the procedural guidelines established 
in 1994, acceptance of submissions under the NAALC was always 
conditioned on whether a submission raised issues relevant to labor law 
matters in the territory of another party and whether a review would 
further the objectives of the Agreement. Further, submissions were 
always subject to rejection on several grounds (e.g., failure to seek 
domestic remedies, similarity to a recent submission without 
significant new information, etc.). Section G.2 of the revised 
guidelines retains the factors established by the 1994 guidelines for 
the OTLA to consider when deciding whether to accept a submission for 
review, and thus the OTLA maintains the same level of flexibility in 
making such decisions. Accordingly, there is no basis for the AFL-CIO's 
assertion that section G.2 would result in the rejection of meritorious 
submissions, and it is not necessary to revise Section G.2 in order to 
assure consideration of meritorious submissions.

U.S. Chamber of Commerce Comments

    The U.S. Chamber of Commerce (``Chamber'') commented generally that 
the submission process is subject to abuse by labor organizations 
seeking to put public pressure on an employer. The Chamber proposed 
that the Department establish additional requirements to be met before 
a submission is accepted by the OTLA: (1) That the OTLA decline a 
submission based on a single incident; (2) that the OTLA decline a 
submission that has not been fully adjudicated in the country of 
jurisdiction; (3) that there should be no presumption that a submission 
should be accepted; (4) that the OTLA decline to identify a submission 
by the name of the employer; (5) that the OTLA establish a presumption 
against holding a public hearing on a submission; and, (6) that the 
OTLA adopt procedures to prevent the submission process from being used 
to interfere with an ongoing labor dispute.
    The OTLA declines to adopt the Chamber's proposal that it decline a 
submission based on a single incident, or because it has not been fully 
adjudicated in the country of jurisdiction. Submission of evidence of a 
single incident does not preclude the possibility that, upon further 
investigation, a pattern or practice of non-compliance might be found; 
indeed it may be difficult for a submitter to compile evidence of 
multiple instances of non-compliance. As to the proposed exhaustion 
requirement, neither the NAALC nor the FTA labor chapters require 
submitters to exhaust their domestic remedies before filing a 
submission with a Party's contact point. Further, the scope of public 
submissions under an FTA or the NAALC is not limited to matters that 
may come before an adjudicatory body. Moreover, allegations that a 
Party's administrative, quasi-judicial, judicial, and labor tribunal 
proceedings are not fair, equitable, or transparent may form the basis 
of a submission asserting that Party's failure to meet its commitments 
under the NAALC or an FTA. Finally, to accept the Chamber's proposal to 
require full adjudication in the country of origin would provide a 
means for a government party to veto, through inaction, the OTLA's 
consideration of a particular submission.
    The Chamber of Commerce supports the Department's revision of 
section G.2 as an effective means of eliminating any presumption that a 
submission will be accepted. As explained above in response to the AFL-
CIO's comments, the change in section G.2 was not intended as a 
functional change in how the OTLA reviews submissions for acceptance. A 
review of the disposition of public submissions to the OTLA since 1994 
indicates that, in practice, the OTLA has not read the guidelines to 
create a presumption that a submission will be accepted.
    In response to the Chamber's comment that a submission not be 
identified by the name of the employer, the OTLA notes that submissions 
have not been identified by employer name since 2001. The OTLA 
currently uses the geographical location of the subject of the 
submission to identify the submission.

[[Page 76693]]

    Concerning public hearings, the OTLA's experience is that hearings 
can be effective means of gathering information and testimony from 
witnesses. A public hearing is also an important means of assuring 
transparency in the OTLA's functioning. In section H.3 of both the 
current and proposed guidelines, the OTLA retains the flexibility to 
hold a public hearing as a means of acquiring information relevant to 
its review of a submission. In addition, in the proposed guidelines, 
holding a public hearing is mentioned as one of many potential means 
for the public to submit relevant information. Therefore, the 
Department finds it inadvisable to create a presumption against holding 
a public hearing, and the guidelines will retain the flexibility for 
the OTLA to hold public hearings in appropriate cases.
    The Chamber recommended that the Department adopt further 
guidelines to ensure that the submission process not be used to 
intervene or interfere with labor disputes. As the contact point on the 
labor chapters of an FTA and the NAALC, the OTLA must provide for the 
receipt of public submissions on any matter relating to a labor chapter 
of an FTA or the NAALC. In the past, submissions have often referred to 
an ongoing labor dispute, and, in some instances, information about a 
labor dispute has provided useful context for the alleged violations 
and facilitated the OTLA's review of the allegations. In the context of 
the review process, however, the OTLA's role is not to assess the 
merits of the labor dispute, but to assist in the resolution of issues 
related to a Party's obligations under the NAALC or the labor chapter 
of an FTA. The proposed guidelines do not alter the focus of the 
review, which continues to be on assessing government action or 
inaction and not on the behavior of particular employers or workers.

Mexican NAO Comments

    The Mexican NAO commented that proposed section C.1, which 
``encourages'' public input and provides for the receipt of 
communications relating to the NAALC or a labor chapter of an FTA, 
exceeds the authority given to the OTLA by Article 16.3 of the NAALC to 
merely ``provide for the submission and receipt'' of public 
communications. The word ``encourage'' in the first sentence of section 
C.1 of the proposed guidelines referred to the receipt of input from 
the public on a broad range of issues related to a labor chapter of an 
FTA or the NAALC. It did not refer to the receipt of submissions, which 
specifically deal with possible violations of a labor chapter of an FTA 
or the NAALC, and was not intended to encourage the filing of 
submissions against Parties. However, to clarify any possible 
ambiguities in the language of section C.1, the section has been 
revised to state that the OTLA shall ``receive and consider'' public 
communications on matters relating to a labor chapter of an FTA and the 
NAALC, and the objective of encouraging public comments on labor issues 
has been moved to section C.3.
    Mexico also commented that consultations with foreign government 
representatives of NAALC Parties should be undertaken only through the 
NAO of the party against whom a submission was filed. The language of 
section C.1 has been revised to clarify that consultations with a 
foreign government shall take place with foreign government officials, 
the designated contact point (in the case of the NAALC, the Mexican or 
Canadian NAO), and non-government representatives, as appropriate.

Time Frames for Agency Action on Submissions

    In addition to addressing the public comments on the proposed 
procedural guidelines, the Department has determined it is appropriate 
to reconsider whether the time frames for OTLA action on submissions 
contained in the proposed guidelines are realistic. Section G.1 of the 
proposed guidelines provides that OTLA must decide whether to accept a 
submission for review within 60 days of the receipt of the submission, 
the same time period as provided in section G.1 of the current 
procedural guidelines. 59 FR 16660 (1994). In addition, section H.7 of 
the proposed guidelines provides that OTLA must issue a public report 
on a submission ``[w]ithin 120 days of the acceptance of a submission 
for review, unless circumstances require an extension of time of up to 
60 additional days * * *,'' the same time period provided in section 
H.8 of the current procedural guidelines. 59 FR 16660 (1994). These 
time periods are not mandated by any statute or other authority, and 
are matters of agency procedure. Experience under the current 
guidelines has demonstrated that these periods of time for accepting 
submissions and issuing final reports are not always sufficient, for 
example, in cases where significant supplemental materials are provided 
by the submitters, where issues are particularly complex, or where on-
site investigations are conducted outside of the United States.
    Upon further consideration, OTLA has determined that the guidelines 
should provide additional flexibility in the time periods for accepting 
submissions and preparation of public reports, to establish a more 
realistic timeframe. Accordingly, section G.1 has been revised to allow 
extension of the 60-day period for accepting submissions, and section 
H.7 has been revised to allow an initial period of 180 days to issue a 
public report, and to remove the 60-day limitation on an extension of 
time. OTLA believes these revisions strike an appropriate balance 
between the need to resolve submissions promptly, and the need for 
careful research, investigation, and analysis in deciding whether to 
accept a submission and in preparation of public reports in cases that 
often present complex legal and factual issues.

Designation of the Secretary of the National Administrative Office

    Article 15.1 of the NAALC requires the Parties to establish a 
National Administrative Office (NAO) at the Federal government level 
and to notify the other Parties of its location. Article 15.2 requires 
each Party to designate a Secretary for its NAO, who shall be 
responsible for its administration and management. Pursuant to the 
NAALC, the Secretary of Labor established the U.S. NAO in 1994 (59 FR 
16660 (Apr. 1, 1994) and is responsible for its administration. To 
clarify that the Secretary of Labor has the authority to designate the 
Secretary of the NAO and retains flexibility in making the designation, 
Section A.3 of the Guidelines has been revised to indicate that the 
Director of the OTLA shall be the Secretary of the NAO unless the 
Secretary of Labor directs otherwise.
    The attached notice reassigns the functions of the Office of Trade 
Agreement Implementation to the Office of Trade and Labor Affairs and 
sets out revised procedural guidelines pertaining to public 
submissions, superseding the Revised Notice of Establishment and 
Procedural Guidelines published on April 7, 1994 (59 FR 16660) and the 
Notice of Renaming the National Administrative Office as the Office of 
Trade Agreement Implementation; Designation of the Office as the 
Contact Point for Labor Provisions of Free Trade Agreements; and 
Request for Comments on Procedural Guidelines published on December 23, 
2004 (69 FR 77128).

    Signed at Washington, DC, on December 14, 2006.
Elaine L. Chao,
Secretary of Labor.

    The Notice Is Set Out Below.

[[Page 76694]]

Notice of Procedural Guidelines

Section A. Designation of Contact Point

    1. The Office of Trade and Labor Affairs is designated as the 
contact point as required by Article 15.4.2 and Annex 15-A of the U.S.-
Bahrain FTA, Article 18.4.3 and Annex 18.5 of the U.S.-Chile FTA, 
Article 17.4.2 and Annex 17A of the U.S.-Singapore FTA, Article 16.4.1 
and Annex 16-A of the U.S.-Morocco FTA, Article 18.4.2 of the U.S.-
Australia FTA, and Article 16.4.3 and Annex 16.5 of the U.S.-Dominican 
Republic-Central America FTA (CAFTA-DR).
    2. The Office of Trade and Labor Affairs is designated as the 
contact point for labor chapters of other FTAs to which the United 
States may become a party to the extent provided for in such 
agreements, implementing legislation, or accompanying statements of 
administrative action.
    3. The Office of Trade and Labor Affairs retains the functions of, 
and designation as, the National Administrative Office to administer 
Departmental responsibilities under the North American Agreement on 
Labor Cooperation. Unless the Secretary of Labor directs otherwise, the 
Director of the Office of Trade and Labor Affairs retains the functions 
of, and designation as, the Secretary of the National Administrative 
Office under Article 15 of the North American Agreement on Labor 
Cooperation.

Section B. Definitions

    As used herein:
    FTA means the U.S.-Bahrain Free Trade Agreement, the U.S.-Chile 
Free Trade Agreement, the U.S.-Singapore Free Trade Agreement, the 
U.S.-Australia Free Trade Agreement, the U.S.-Morocco Free Trade 
Agreement, the CAFTA-DR, or other free trade agreement to which the 
United States may become a party under which the Department is given a 
role in administering the labor provisions of the agreement;
    Another Party or other Party means a country other than the United 
States that is a Party to an FTA or the NAALC;
    Commission for Labor Cooperation means the Commission for Labor 
Cooperation established pursuant to Article 8 of the NAALC;
    Labor chapter means Chapter 15 of the U.S.-Bahrain FTA, Chapter 18 
of the U.S.-Chile FTA, Chapter 17 of the U.S.-Singapore FTA, Chapter 16 
of the U.S.-Morocco FTA, Chapter 18 of the U.S.-Australia FTA, Chapter 
16 of the CAFTA-DR, or a labor chapter of any other FTA;
    Labor committee refers to (1) The Labor Affairs Council established 
pursuant to Article 18.4.1 of the U.S.-Chile Free Trade Agreement, 
Article 16.4.1 of the CAFTA-DR, or pursuant to any other FTA and (2) a 
Subcommittee on Labor Affairs that may be established by the Joint 
Committee pursuant to Article 15.4 of the Bahrain FTA, Article 17.4.1 
of the U.S.-Singapore FTA, Article 18.4.1 of the U.S.-Australia FTA, 
Article 16.6.3 of the U.S.-Morocco FTA, or pursuant to any other FTA;
    Labor cooperation program refers to (1) The Cooperative Activities 
Program undertaken by the Parties to the NAALC and (2) a Labor 
Cooperation Mechanism established pursuant to Article 15.5 of the U.S.-
Bahrain FTA, Article 18.5 of the U.S.-Chile FTA, Article 17.5 of the 
U.S.-Singapore FTA, Article 16.5 of the U.S.-Morocco FTA, Article 18.5 
of the U.S.-Australia FTA, Article 16.5 of the CAFTA-DR, or a similar 
mechanism established pursuant to any other FTA;
    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;
    NAALC means the North American Agreement on Labor Cooperation;
    Non-governmental organization means any scientific, professional, 
business, or public interest organization or association that is 
neither affiliated with, nor under the direction of, a government;
    Party means a Party to an FTA or the NAALC;
    Person includes one or more individuals, non-governmental 
organizations, labor organizations, partnerships, associations, 
corporations, or legal representatives; and
    Submission means a communication from the public containing 
specific allegations, accompanied by relevant supporting information, 
that another Party has failed to meet its commitments or obligations 
arising under a labor chapter or Part Two of the NAALC.

Section C. Functions of the Office of Trade and Labor Affairs

    1. The OTLA shall receive and consider communications from the 
public on any matter related to the NAALC or a labor chapter of an FTA. 
The OTLA shall consider the views expressed by the public; consult, as 
appropriate, with foreign government officials, the designated contact 
point, and non-government representatives; and provide appropriate and 
prompt responses.
    2. The OTLA shall provide assistance to the Secretary of Labor on 
all matters concerning a labor chapter of an FTA or the NAALC, 
including the development and implementation of a labor cooperation 
program.
    3. The OTLA shall serve as a contact point with agencies of the 
United States government, counterparts from another Party, the public, 
governmental working or expert groups, business representatives, labor 
organizations, and non-governmental organizations concerning matters 
under a labor chapter or the NAALC. The OTLA encourages comments on 
relevant labor issues from the public at large and will consider them 
as appropriate.
    4. The OTLA shall promptly provide publicly available information 
pursuant to Article 16.2 of the NAALC as requested by the Secretariat 
of the Commission for Labor Cooperation, the National Administrative 
Office of another Party, or an Evaluation Committee of Experts.
    5. The OTLA shall receive, determine whether to accept for review, 
and review submissions on another Party's commitments and obligations 
arising under a labor chapter or the NAALC, as set out in Sections F, 
G, and H.
    6. The OTLA may initiate a review of any matter arising under a 
labor chapter or the NAALC.
    7. The OTLA may request, undertake, and participate in 
consultations with another Party pursuant to Parts One, Four and Five 
of the NAALC, or pursuant to the consultation provisions of FTAs, such 
as Article 15.6 of the U.S.-Bahrain FTA, Article 18.6 of the U.S.-Chile 
FTA, Article 17.6 of the U.S.-Singapore FTA, Article 18.6 of the U.S.-
Australia FTA, Article 16.6 of the U.S.-Morocco FTA, and Article 16.6 
of the CAFTA-DR, and respond to requests for such consultations made by 
another Party.
    8. The OTLA shall assist a labor committee or the Commission for 
Labor Cooperation on any relevant matter.
    9. The OTLA shall, as appropriate, establish working or expert 
groups; consult with and seek advice of non-governmental organizations 
or persons; prepare and publish reports as set out in Section J and on 
matters related to the implementation of a labor chapter pursuant to 
Article 15.4.3 and 15.4.5 of the U.S.-Bahrain FTA, Article 18.4.4 and 
18.4.6 of the U.S.-Chile FTA, Article 17.4.3 and 17.4.5 of the U.S.-
Singapore FTA, Article 16.4.4 and 16.4.6 of the CAFTA-DR, Article 
18.4.3 of the U.S.-Australia FTA, Article 16.4.2 and 16.4.4 of the 
U.S.-Morocco FTA, or

[[Page 76695]]

pursuant to any other FTA; collect and maintain information on labor 
law matters involving another Party; and compile materials concerning 
labor law legislation of another Party.
    10. The OTLA shall consider the views of any advisory committee 
established or consulted to provide advice in administering a labor 
chapter or the NAALC.
    11. In carrying out its responsibilities under the labor chapters 
and the NAALC, the OTLA shall consult with the Office of the United 
States Trade Representative, the Department of State, and other 
appropriate entities in the U.S. government.

Section D. Cooperation

    1. The OTLA shall conduct at all times its activities in accordance 
with the principles of cooperation and respect embodied in the FTAs and 
the NAALC. In its dealings with a contact point of another Party and 
all persons, the OTLA shall endeavor to the maximum extent possible to 
resolve matters through consultation and cooperation.
    2. The OTLA shall consult with the contact point of another Party 
during the submission and review process set out in Sections F, G and H 
in order to obtain information and resolve issues that may arise.
    3. The OTLA, on behalf of the Department of Labor and with other 
appropriate agencies, shall develop and implement cooperative 
activities under a labor cooperation program. The OTLA may carry out 
such cooperative activities through any means the Parties deem 
appropriate, including exchange of government delegations, 
professionals, and specialists; sharing of information, standards, 
regulations and procedures, and best practices; organization of 
conferences, seminars, workshops, meetings, training sessions, and 
outreach and education programs; development of collaborative projects 
or demonstrations; joint research projects, studies, and reports; and 
technical exchanges and cooperation.
    4. The OTLA shall receive and consider views on cooperative 
activities from worker and employer representatives and from other 
members of civil society.

Section E. Information

    1. The OTLA shall maintain public files in which submissions, 
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 or another Party to the OTLA 
in confidence shall be treated as exempt from public inspection if the 
information meets the requirements of 5 U.S.C. 552(b) or as otherwise 
permitted by law. Each person or Party 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 OTLA shall be sensitive to the needs of an individual's 
confidentiality and shall make every effort to protect such 
individual's interests.

Section F. Submissions

    1. Any person may file a submission with the OTLA regarding another 
Party's commitments or obligations arising under a labor chapter or 
Part Two of the NAALC. Filing may be by electronic e-mail transmission, 
hand delivery, mail delivery, or facsimile transmission. A hard copy 
submission must be accompanied by an electronic version in a current 
PDF, Word or Word Perfect format, including attachments, unless it is 
not practicable.
    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 OTLA to 
consider and include supporting information available to the submitter, 
including, wherever possible, copies of laws or regulations that are 
the subject of the submission. As relevant, the submission shall 
address and explain to the fullest extent possible whether:
    (a) The matters referenced in the submission demonstrate action 
inconsistent with another Party's commitments or obligations under a 
labor chapter or the NAALC, noting the particular commitment or 
obligation;
    (b) there has been harm to the submitter or other persons, and, if 
so, to what extent;
    (c) the matters referenced in the submission demonstrate a 
sustained or recurring course of action or inaction of non-enforcement 
of labor law by the other Party;
    (d) the matters referenced in the submission affect trade between 
the parties;
    (e) relief has been sought under the domestic laws of the other 
Party, and, if so, the status of any legal proceedings; and
    (f) the matters referenced in the submission have been addressed by 
or are pending before an international body.

Section G. Acceptance of Submissions

    1. Within 60 days after the filing of a submission, unless 
circumstances as determined by the OTLA require an extension of time, 
the OTLA shall determine whether to accept the submission for review. 
The OTLA may communicate with the submitter during this period 
regarding any matter relating to the determination.
    2. In determining whether to accept a submission for review, the 
OTLA shall consider, to the extent relevant, whether:
    (a) The submission raises issues relevant to any matter arising 
under a labor chapter or the NAALC;
    (b) a review would further the objectives of a labor chapter or the 
NAALC;
    (c) the submission clearly identifies the person filing the 
submission, is signed and dated, and is sufficiently specific to 
determine the nature of the request and permit an appropriate review;
    (d) the statements contained in the submission, if substantiated, 
would constitute a failure of the other Party to comply with its 
obligations or commitments under a labor chapter or the NAALC;
    (e) the statements contained in the submission or available 
information demonstrate that appropriate relief has been sought under 
the domestic laws of the other Party, or that the matter or a related 
matter is pending before an international body; and
    (f) the submission is substantially similar to a recent submission 
and significant, new information has been furnished that would 
substantially differentiate the submission from the one previously 
filed.
    3. If the OTLA accepts a submission for review, it shall promptly 
provide written notice to the submitter, the relevant Party, and other 
appropriate persons, and promptly publish in the Federal Register 
notice of the determination, a statement specifying why review is 
warranted, and the terms of the review.
    4. If the OTLA declines to accept a submission for review, it shall 
promptly provide written notice to the submitter stating the reasons 
for the determination.

Section H. Reviews and Public Reports

    1. Following a determination by the OTLA to accept a submission for 
review, the OTLA shall conduct such

[[Page 76696]]

further examination of the submission as may be appropriate to assist 
it to better understand and publicly report on the issues raised. The 
OTLA shall keep the submitter apprised of the status of a review.
    2. Except for information exempt from public inspection pursuant to 
Section E, information relevant to a review shall be placed in a public 
file.
    3. The OTLA shall provide a process for the public to submit 
information relevant to the review, which may include holding a public 
hearing.
    4. Notice of any such hearing under paragraph 3 shall be published 
in the Federal Register 30 days in advance. The notice shall contain 
such information as the OTLA deems relevant, including information 
pertaining to requests to present oral testimony and written briefs.
    5. Any hearing shall be open to the public. All proceedings shall 
be conducted in English, with simultaneous interpretation provided as 
the OTLA deems necessary.
    6. Any hearing shall be conducted by an official of the OTLA or 
another Departmental official, assisted by staff and legal counsel, as 
appropriate. The public file shall be made part of the hearing record 
at the commencement of the hearing.
    7. Within 180 days of the acceptance of a submission for review, 
unless circumstances as determined by the OTLA require an extension of 
time, the OTLA shall issue a public report.
    8. The report shall include a summary of the proceedings and any 
findings and recommendations.

Section I. Recommendations to the Secretary of Labor

    1. The OTLA may make a recommendation at any time to the Secretary 
of Labor as to whether the United States should request consultations 
with another Party pursuant to Article 15.6.1 of the U.S.-Bahrain FTA, 
Article 18.6.1 of the U.S.-Chile FTA, Article 17.6.1 of the U.S.-
Singapore FTA, Article 18.6.1 of the U.S. Australia FTA, Article 16.6.1 
of the U.S. Morocco FTA, Article 16.6.1 of the CAFTA-DR, pursuant to 
the labor provisions of any other FTA, or consultations with another 
Party at the ministerial level pursuant to Article 22 of the NAALC. As 
relevant and appropriate, the OTLA shall include any such 
recommendation in the report prepared in response to a submission.
    2. If, following any such consultations, the matter has not been 
resolved satisfactorily, the OTLA shall make a recommendation to the 
Secretary of Labor concerning the convening of a labor committee in 
accordance with an FTA, or the establishment of an Evaluation Committee 
of Experts in accordance with Article 23 of the NAALC, as appropriate.
    3. If the mechanisms referred to in paragraph 2 are invoked and the 
matter subsequently remains unresolved, and the matter concerns whether 
a Party is conforming with an obligation under a labor chapter, such as 
Article 16.2.1.a of the CAFTA-DR, Article 18.2.1.a of the U.S.-Chile 
FTA, or Part Two of the NAALC, that is subject to the dispute 
settlement provisions of an FTA or the NAALC, the OTLA shall make a 
recommendation to the Secretary of Labor concerning pursuit of dispute 
resolution under such provisions.
    4. Before making such recommendations, OTLA shall consult with the 
Office of the United States Trade Representative, the Department of 
State, and other appropriate entities in the U.S. government

Section J. Periodic and Special Reports

    1. The OTLA shall publish periodically a list of submissions 
presented to it, including a summary of the disposition of such 
submissions.
    2. The OTLA shall obtain and publish periodically information on 
public communications considered by the other Parties.
    3. The OTLA may undertake reviews and publish special reports on 
any topics under its purview on its own initiative or upon request from 
the Secretary of Labor.

 [FR Doc. E6-21837 Filed 12-20-06; 8:45 am]

BILLING CODE 4510-28-P