NAFTA Should Lift Working People

From the AFL-CIO

The United States, Canada and Mexico wrapped up the first round of renegotiation talks on the North American Free Trade Agreement, yet the focus isn’t where it should be, which is on making sure working people across the continent can earn a living wage.

Political and workplace repression in Mexico have artificially depressed wages across North America and sped up a race to the bottom for working families and communities.

Mexican assembly-line workers earn a dime for every dollar made by U.S. manufacturing workers. That difference amounts to tremendous leverage, allowing corporations to offer take-it-or-leave-it jobs in the United States and Canada.

Violations of workers’ rights in Mexico are common under NAFTA, and the result is clear: Wages remain flat, and autoworkers in Mexico earn some of the lowest pay in the world.

The violations are a main reason why NAFTA benefits investors, not working people. We must change that.

The AFL-CIO stands with the working people of North America as we all demand fair trade rules that lift up working people.

85 years: That’s how long it’s been since corporate profits have been this high, as NAFTA inflates profits and holds worker pay near historic lows.


Posted In: Union Matters

Union Matters

Freight can’t wait

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 freight train hauling lumber and nylon manufacturing chemicals derailed, caught fire and caused a 108-year-old bridge to collapse in Tempe, Ariz., this week, in the second accident on the same bridge within a month.

The bridge was damaged after the first incident, according to Union Pacific railroad that owns the rail bridge, and re-opened two days later. 

The official cause of the derailments is still under investigation, but it remains clear that the failure to modernize and maintain America’s railroad infrastructure is dangerous. 

In 2019, 499 trains that derailed were found to have defective or broken track, roadbed or structures, according to the Federal Railroad Administration’s database of safety analysis.

While railroad workers’ unions have called for increased safety improvements, rail companies have also used technology and automation as an excuse to downsize their work forces.

For example, rail companies have implemented a cost-saving measure known as Precision Scheduled Railroading (PSR), which has resulted in mass layoffs and shoddy safety protocols. 

Though privately-owned railroads have spent significantly to upgrade large, Class I trains, regional Class II trains and local, short-line Class III trains that carry important goods for farmers and businesses still rely on state and local funds for improvements. 

But cash-strapped states struggle to adequately inspect new technologies and fund safety improvements, and repairing or replacing the aging track and rail bridges will require significant public investment.

A true infrastructure commitment will not only strengthen the country’s railroad networks and increase U.S. global economic competitiveness. It will also create millions of family-sustaining jobs needed to inspect, repair and manufacture new parts for mass transit systems, all while helping to prevent future disasters.

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There is Dignity in All Work

There is Dignity in All Work