On Monday, June 17th, AFL-CIO Richard Trumka kicked off his NAFTA Trade Tour in Pittsburgh at the Pittsburgh Federation of Teachers Local 400 hall. Labor leaders and union members from across southwest PA and our Commonwealth.
The Labor Movement has serious concerns regarding the NAFTA 2.0 (USMCA) trade deal. The National AFL-CIO has submitted 130 revisions to the deal, which have yet to be made. The greatest chief concern is the lack of an enforcement mechanism, one of the most problematic aspects of the original NAFTA deal.
Once a trade deal like NAFTA or the USMCA is ratified, it cannot be tweaked or revised. Therefore it is absolutely imperative that we get this deal right.
Bad trade deals hurt workers, whether they’re American, Mexican or otherwise. Bad trade deals aren’t negotiated or crafted to protect workers; their designed to serve the interests of corporations and the wealthy few. We need real change in our trade policy, but the USMCA is not it.
We’ve lived with NAFTA for more than 20 years, we can wait until we get this deal right, so we don’t spend another 20 years bearing the brunt of the fallout. Tell your Congressperson that there should be no vote on the new NAFTA until it’s fixed!
Check Out This Op-Ed from Presidents Richard Trumka and Rick Bloomingdale: (This was printed in the Beaver County Times)
The North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) has been a disaster for working Pennsylvanians. But, the way it came about was no accident.
Those in power decided that greed, not justice or fairness, would be the rule of our economy. Corporations were handed free rein to suppress the rights of workers in Mexico, slash wages across North America and destroy livelihoods here at home—anything to fatten their already burgeoning profit margins.
For the past 25 years, we have witnessed the capacity of shameless politicians and greedy executives to wreak havoc on working people. We have watched families reel from the closing of a plant at the heart of their community. We have seen our parents and grandparents scramble to survive as their pensions are sacrificed to reassure shareholders. Day after day, the fruits of our labor have has been sold out to enrich those with the most.
President Trump won Pennsylvania in large part by calling out this rigged system. But, his proposed new NAFTA doesn’t live up to the massive structural problems facing our country.
Something needs to change, but working people can’t afford to settle for rebrands or soft-footed reform. We won’t accept tweaks around the edges. NAFTA needs to be ripped out by the roots and replaced with something dramatically different.
A truly pro-worker trade deal will do more than minimize collateral damage. It will prioritize the needs of working people over the demands of a few CEOs. And, it will put us in a stronger position for the future by using the United States’ leverage to strengthen our rights at work, raise wages and create good jobs.
As it stands, the president’s proposal would waste a massive opportunity to usher in a new era of American trade policy. It leaves in place some of the worst parts of NAFTA while handing pharmaceutical companies even more power to set exorbitant drug prices. Working people are demanding better.
First, the administration needs to dramatically strengthen the deal’s enforcement provisions. In the current draft, when corporations break the rules, they will have the power to block any investigation into their actions. Negotiators had gotten rid of this loophole in recent trade agreements, so to turn back now is an absurd concession and a total non-starter for the labor movement. It doesn’t matter what the proposed new NAFTA offers in theory; without a way to hold multinational corporations accountable, this deal isn’t worth the paper it’s written on.
Second, the administration needs to use this opportunity to free patients from the skyrocketing cost of prescription drugs. The current proposal does precisely the opposite, granting Big Pharma a continent-wide, decade-long monopoly that would prove disastrous for working people in all three countries.
Third, Mexican workers must be guaranteed the right to organize, negotiate higher wages and win acceptable working conditions. While the Mexican government has taken steps in the right direction, this proposal has no way of ensuring that they continue following through on their promises. This deal needs to mandate transparent reporting and strong, guaranteed consequences for violations. So far, the new NAFTA has no mechanism for ensuring any meaningful change. To move forward without effective enforcement and monitoring tools would sacrifice any leverage we have to save jobs in Pennsylvania and strengthen workers’ rights on both sides of the border.
These are the most egregious issues, but there is a range of other problems with the current proposal that also need to be addressed, from allowing corporations to hide the origins of our food to leaving high-wage jobs vulnerable to continued outsourcing.
Simply put, we won’t allow the next generation to suffer the same injustices of the past quarter-century. If the administration insists on rushing its flawed agreement without these common-sense improvements, our movement will mobilize an unrivaled, nationwide organizing network to ensure that it never sees the light of day. But if President Trump can deliver on these changes and produce a truly pro-worker deal, we are ready and eager to win its passage in Congress.
Either way, this process will be driven first and foremost by the voices of working people. That’s why we’re hosting a workers’ town hall in Pittsburgh on June 17, where we will hear from the Pennsylvanians who have suffered through NAFTA’s devastation. These workers are demanding something better, and they’re prepared to fight for it.
We suggest the White House listen to what they have to say.