Demand Workers are Heard in NAFTA Renegotiations

Chris Stergalas

Chris Stergalas Senior Online Organizer, Working America

Right now, there’s a lot of talk among politicians and the media about the North American Free Trade Agreement, or NAFTA for short. We need you to join with working people to urge our elected leaders to have our backs this time by demanding an open, transparent debate. The importance of trade deals to good jobs and fair wages can’t be stressed enough — and we need to know what’s being discussed.

Working people didn’t have a seat at the table the first time NAFTA was signed (nearly 25 years ago). They didn’t even think of us. As a result, workplaces across the United States shuttered while NAFTA failed to hold employers accountable for violating workers’ rights in Mexico. That’s why Rep. Bill Pascrell (D-N.J.), the ranking member of the House Ways and Means subcommittee on trade, and longtime fair trade champion Rep. Debbie Dingell (D-Mich.), are circulating a letter to their colleagues in the House asking U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer to ensure the negotiation process remains open and transparent.

The NAFTA renegotiation conversation affects working people and our communities too much for us to be left out of the process. We don’t want a “modernized” version of the agreement, we need a new and different trade agreement that puts working people first. We need an agreement with Canada and Mexico that promotes more jobs with better wages you can sustain a family on, and benefits and safety standards on the job in all three countries. Working people must have guaranteed protection from discrimination and abuse across the three countries and we must better preserve our freedom to negotiate.

It’s going to take so much more than talk to make good on the promise of prosperity for working families. That’s why it’s important that our representatives begin to hear from us on this. They were elected by us to represent our interests. Let’s make sure they hear from us now and throughout this process.

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Posted In: Union Matters

Union Matters

The Big Drip

From the USW

From tumbledown bridges to decrepit roads and failing water systems, crumbling infrastructure undermines America’s safety and prosperity. In coming weeks, Union Matters will delve into this neglect and the urgent need for a rebuilding campaign that creates jobs, fuels economic growth and revitalizes communities. 

A rash of water main breaks in West Berkeley, Calif., and neighboring cities last month flooded streets and left at least 300 residents without water. Routine pressure adjustments in response to water demand likely caused more than a dozen pipes, some made of clay and more than 100 years old, to rupture.

West Berkeley’s brittle mains are not unique. Decades of neglect left aging pipes susceptible to breaks in communities across the U.S., wasting two trillion gallons of treated water each year as these systems near collapse.

Comprehensive upgrades to the nation’s crumbling water systems would stanch the flow and ensure all Americans have reliable access to clean water.

Nationwide, water main breaks increased 27 percent between 2012 and 2018, according to a Utah State University study.  

These breaks not only lead to service disruptions  but also flood out roads, topple trees and cause illness when drinking water becomes contaminated with bacteria.

The American Water Works Association estimated it will cost at least $1 trillion over the next 25 years to upgrade and expand water infrastructure.

Some local water utilities raised their rates to pay for system improvements, but that just hurts poor consumers who can’t pay the higher bills.

And while Congress allocates money for loans that utilities can use to fix portions of their deteriorating systems, that’s merely a drop in the bucket—a fraction of what agencies need for lasting improvements.

America can no longer afford a piecemeal approach to a systemic nationwide crisis. A major, sustained federal commitment to fixing aging pipes and treatment plants would create millions of construction-related jobs while ensuring all Americans have safe, affordable drinking water.

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There is Dignity in All Work

There is Dignity in All Work