NAFTA Can’t Be Fixed Behind Closed Doors

Celeste Drake AFL-CIO

This week, the governments of the United States, Canada and Mexico will begin renegotiating the North American Free Trade Agreement, better known as NAFTA.

NAFTA, which has been governing our economy since 1994, is a bad deal. It has held down wages across North America. It has empowered global corporations to offshore jobs, shutter factories and drive small farmers out of business. It has driven away more than 850,000 U.S. jobs. It has made our economy more unequal and unfair.

Renegotiation offers a chance to give North America’s working families a new economic deal, so that any benefits of international trade can be shared broadly instead of being captured by the largest global corporations and their CEOs.

The first step to replacing NAFTA with a new economic deal is to negotiate in an open and transparent manner. If the proposals to fix NAFTA are only developed and discussed behind closed doors, how will ordinary people have a fair chance to review and influence these rules? If the negotiators claim we must trust them to do what’s best, but they won’t show us the new rules we will have to live under, the likelihood of a better deal is slim.

There is an old saying in the labor movement that if you are not at the table, you’re on the menu. We can’t hold our government accountable if we don’t know what it’s doing in our name.

Now is the time to eliminate old-style, secretive trade negotiations and usher in open, 21st-century negotiations that allow citizen participation. Isn’t that what democracy is all about anyway? Click here to send a message to your elected official about the kind of new trade deal that working people need now!

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Reposted from AFL-CIO

Posted In: Allied Approaches, From AFL-CIO

Union Matters

An Invitation to Sunny Miami. What Could Be Bad?

Sam Pizzigati

Sam Pizzigati Editor, Too Much online magazine

If a billionaire “invites” you somewhere, you’d better go. Or be prepared to suffer the consequences. This past May, hedge fund kingpin Carl Icahn announced in a letter to his New York-based staff of about 50 that he would be moving his business operations to Florida. But the 83-year-old Icahn assured his staffers they had no reason to worry: “My employees have always been very important to the company, so I’d like to invite you all to join me in Miami.” Those who go south, his letter added, would get a $50,000 relocation benefit “once you have established your permanent residence in Florida.” Those who stay put, the letter continued, can file for state unemployment benefits, a $450 weekly maximum that “you can receive for a total of 26 weeks.” What about severance from Icahn Enterprises? The New York Post reported last week that the two dozen employees who have chosen not to uproot their families and follow Icahn to Florida “will be let go without any severance” when the billionaire shutters his New York offices this coming March. Bloomberg currently puts Carl Icahn’s net worth at $20.5 billion.

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