Going beyond other stands, the United Auto Workers are demanding “significant economic consequences” under any new trade pacts – NAFTA included – for firms that violate workers’ rights.
And enforceable, transparent worker rights, including forcing nations to live up to international labor standards, must be written into any and all future trade pacts, UAW added.
UAW convention delegates in Detroit passed the resolution with that demand on June 13. There was no dissent, and a lot of denunciation of predatory corporations and foreign nations who use so-called “free trade” pacts to strip U.S. workers of jobs and U.S. cities of factories, notably in autos and auto parts.
The resolution and the remarks from the convention floor made clear that UAW, like other unions, is not against foreign trade, but against unfair foreign trade.
Delegates approved the measure at a time when tensions over trade between the GOP Trump administration and its two NAFTA trading partners, Canada and Mexico, are rising. On the campaign trail in 2016, Donald Trump called NAFTA “a disaster” and pledged to kill it.
That stance won him hundreds of thousands of unionists’ votes in the key Great Lakes industrial states – Ohio, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin – he carried. And those states’ electoral votes put him in the White House. But since then, Trump’s been renegotiating NAFTA, not killing it. Progress in the talks has been rocky.
And labor and congressional Democratic opposition forced Democratic President Barack Obama to shelve an even worse pact, the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). NAFTA was the recipe for TPP and other following corporate-written “free trade” pacts. All those pacts, led by NAFTA, anger UAW and the rest of organized labor.
And on June 15, after the conclave closed, Trump imposed tariffs on $50 billion worth of goods from China, which immediately retaliated. New union President Gary Jones told a post-confab press conference union leaders are evaluating Trump’s move.
“In this interconnected world, the issue is not whether one is ‘for’ or ‘against’ trade, but what form it will take and who it will benefit,” the union resolution said. “The UAW supports trade that benefits working people as opposed to global capital.”More ...