WASHINGTON, D.C. – A renegotiated North American Free Trade Agreement must reverse the erosion of economic security, raise living and working conditions for all and provide broad, effective and enforceable labour rights, say leaders of the United Steelworkers (USW), North America’s largest industrial union.
At the Trinational Labour Summit in Washington, D.C., the USW’s International President Leo W. Gerard and Canadian National Director Ken Neumann today released the following joint statement:
Joint Press Statement
Leo W. Gerard, USW International President
Ken Neumann, USW Canadian National Director
Trinational Labour Summit
October 12, 2017
We have come together today as the NAFTA renegotiations reach a critical point. Labour leaders from Mexico, Canada and the United States were joined by progressive leaders from the U.S. Congress and discussed the challenges and opportunities that workers face in the three countries.
The United Steelworkers (USW) is the largest industrial union in North America. We know first-hand the impact of failed trade policies. That impact has been devastating. Since NAFTA, wage inequality has worsened and wage growth has stagnated in both Canada and the United States. Workers’ economic security has been eroded. In Mexico, wages and working conditions have fallen further behind and workers’ rights are suppressed on a regular basis.
USW members in Canada and the United States and our free and independent brothers and sisters with the Los Mineros union in Mexico all fought for broad, effective and enforceable labour rights provisions in the existing NAFTA. Our calls were rejected, and the ruinous impact of NAFTA on working people has been clear.
We all want a renegotiated agreement if it will raise standards, ensure that they are enforced, and provide growth and opportunity for workers in all three countries. NAFTA has concentrated income, wealth and power in the hands of wealthy investors and corporations instead of creating good jobs and protecting the environment.
Rules of origin, investor-state dispute settlement, currency issues, and many others need to be addressed in any renegotiated agreement. But, without significant improvements in workers’ rights provisions, there will be little progress in any updated agreement. Working people will not share in any of the benefits their work helps to create.
Last year, voters here in the United States made trade a core issue in the campaign. Our brothers and sisters in Mexico and Canada have the same aspirations. It is time for our political leaders to keep the promises that were made and not bow to the special interests and free trade ideologues. We intend to work together. We intend to fight. And, we intend to win.