AFL-CIO, Allies Disappointed in Trump’s NAFTA Renegotiation Letter

Mark Gruenberg

Mark Gruenberg Editor, Press Associates Union News

Republican President Donald Trump’s formal letter notifying lawmakers that he intends to renegotiate NAFTA, the jobs-losing 23-year-old U.S.-Mexico-Canada “free trade” pact, doesn’t go far enough, the AFL-CIO and its allies say.

In particular, any new NAFTA must ensure Mexico not only lives up to international labor rights standards, but raises its wages to livable levels, congressional Democrats said.

The Economic Policy Institute calculates the trade pact cost up to a million U.S. industrial jobs since its enactment. On the campaign trail last year, Trump called NAFTA “a disaster,” but his letter says a lot less, AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka notes.

“A good outcome is far from guaranteed” from the new bargaining, Trumka explained. “While the president has called NAFTA the worst trade deal in history, his administration has given conflicting signals as to its priorities, raising the prospect that some of NAFTA’s most problematic elements could remain intact.

In a new NAFTA, “we must elevate and effectively enforce workers’ rights and environmental standards, eliminate excessive corporate privileges, prioritize good jobs and safeguard democracy. This is the standard we will use to judge any renegotiation...We will continue to fight to fix a trade deal that wreaked havoc on working families.”

The Democrats concentrated on Mexico’s low wages, its failure to live up to universal labor standards, and the impact on U.S. factory workers. They’ll also focus on “who is involved in the negotiations,” and they want to kill its secret pro-corporate trade courts, said Rep. Rosa DeLauro, D-Conn., said. NAFTA benefited multinationals, who exercised huge influence on it.

More ...

So Much for That Campaign Promise

In Grim Times, Brazil's Young Workers Take Charge of Future

Tula Connell AFL-CIO

Among the millions of Brazilians who waged a recent 24-hour general strike to protest proposed legislation that would weaken labor regulations, many were young workers, some newly mobilized by the government’s attempts to impose drastic cuts on pensions, salaries and social security and dismantle labor rights, including provisions on vacations, overtime and working hours.

"The labor law reform bill being debated in the National Congress penalizes mainly young people and specifically young black workers, as young workers are primarily employed in precarious jobs and are the majority of the unemployed," said Julia Reis Nogueira, national secretary of Racial Equality in Brazil’s Central Workers’ Union (CUT), a Solidarity Center partner. "When you put together the generational and racial question, this group will be the main victims of this disastrous reform."

More ...

How the Trump Budget Undermines Economic Security for Working Families

By: American Progress

With an administration chock full of self-serving millionaires and billionaires, it comes as little surprise that President Donald Trump’s proposed budget would be an enormous windfall for the wealthiest Americans. But the degree to which it privileges the 1 percent at the expense of nearly everyone else—breaking Trump’s campaign promises to restore prosperity to everyday Americans—is staggering. Notably, by calling for cuts to Social Security, the budget violates one of Trump’s most significant promises.

Indeed, his proposed repeal of the estate tax alone—a tax that only affects the wealthiest 0.2 percent of estates—would cost the same as feeding more than 6 million seniors for a year through Meals on Wheels, a program facing deep cuts under the Trump budget.

And that is just one of several massive giveaways to the wealthy that President Trump calls for in this budget proposal while slashing critical investments in education, infrastructure, jobs, and more that make it possible for workers and families to get ahead. Here are seven ways that President Trump’s budget proposal threatens to do them serious damage.

Eliminates jobs while leaving the nation’s transportation infrastructure to crumble

Despite promises to reinvest in the nation’s infrastructure, President Trump’s proposed budget calls for the immediate elimination of the Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) grant and Amtrak long-distance routes programs. Furthermore, the budget cuts the Federal Transit Administration’s New Starts program, which provides significant funding to transit authorities for the construction of major new bus and rail projects, by $1.2 billion compared to the fiscal year 2017 omnibus. The budget would eliminate the New Starts program altogether once current grant agreements have been completed. Additionally, the budget would eliminate all discretionary funding for the Essential Air Service program, which helps rural communities connect with the national air system.

More ...

Rachel Maddow Wonders Why Bannon And Priebus Went Home Early