NAFTA Renegotiations Must Lead to More Jobs, Higher Pay and Better Future for all Workers

CONTACT: Holly Hart, (202) 778-4384

(Pittsburgh) – United Steelworkers (USW) International President Leo W. Gerard released the following statement in conjunction with a press call to reveal an extensive set of recommendations prepared by the AFL-CIO. These proposals are designed to reform and update the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) into a pact that benefits workers.

“NAFTA has been a complete and utter failure for working families in the United States as well as for those in Mexico and Canada. The only real beneficiaries are the corporations that relocated production and supply chains, lining the pockets of management and Wall Street with bloated profits.

“During the campaign last year, then-candidate Trump called NAFTA the worst trade deal ever. He highlighted the loss of jobs and the dramatic rise in the U.S. trade deficit. He was right.  Fixing NAFTA, however, is going to require fundamental changes. Simply tinkering around the edges and looking to the rejected Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) as the model for change is a blueprint for failure.

“Workers will judge the success of the President’s efforts by whether or not an updated and reformed NAFTA creates good jobs with good benefits. If the President is serious about achieving these goals, the USW will work with him.

“However, if the NAFTA renegotiation simply lowers standards and costs for businesses rather than enhancing workers’ rights and creating the kinds of jobs voters across this country demanded in last year’s election, we will fight hard to defeat it. We are losing jobs today, and the last thing we need is to make things worse.

“Today we are releasing a comprehensive set of common-sense recommendations for how to improve NAFTA. Our recommendations are based on real-life experience and knowledge, not some theoretical approach. Workers have felt the effects of trade first-hand. We know what has worked and what has not.

“Most important among our recommendations is the need to ensure that internationally-recognized workers’ rights are promoted and also protected through aggressive enforcement provisions. Mexico has become a magnet for foreign investment in sectors like autos and auto parts because workers are not paid fair wages. That must change.

“Coupled with workers’ rights is the need to dramatically increase the rules of origin. NAFTA’s rules are outdated and insufficient. They do not require that adequate value be created in the North American market for use in the products that get preferential tariff treatment. Workers want tariff and trade concessions to result in job creation here -- and not for multinational companies to scour the globe for the cheapest place to produce goods.

“Other important areas for a new agreement include eliminating the Investor State Dispute System and promoting environmental sustainability. Also, the deal must protect the provision of public services. Our submissions address these and other important areas.

“As Chair of the official Labor Advisory Committee, which is empowered under the law to advise the Administration on trade policy, I will follow up today’s public document with direct communications to the USTR, the Department of Labor and other trade officials.

“As we did with the TPP and other trade initiatives, we will provide detailed advice and submissions to identify exactly what needs to happen to make NAFTA work for working people. As Chair, I am hopeful that we will have a strong working relationship with the new USTR and other trade officials that will lead to an updated and reformed NAFTA that we can support.

“Significant changes in NAFTA are required. It is time to turn campaign promises and the needs and desires of working people into real results. Success will be measured by the jobs that will be created, the balance of trade that needs to be adjusted and the standards that must be advanced.”

Read the AFL-CIO statement here. A summary and the full text of the recommendations are also available.

The USW represents 850,000 workers in North America employed in many industries that include metals, rubber, chemicals, paper, oil refining and the service and public sectors. For more information: http://www.usw.org/.


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