PITTSBURGH, Oct. 1, 2018 /PRNewswire/ -- United Steelworkers (USW) International President Leo W. Gerard issued the following statement after renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement was completed.
"The effort to achieve the goal of a fair trade agreement that protects workers in the United States, Canada and Mexico is far from over.
"There are provisions in the draft agreement between the United States and Mexico that represent improvements over NAFTA, but there are also provisions that must be removed. Further, we have not evaluated what changes resulted from the just-concluded agreement to include Canada.
"In the area of workers' rights, the draft text we have seen includes significant improvements over the existing NAFTA and is stronger than the rejected Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). It goes farther than any prior trade agreement. That is encouraging, but it is not yet enough. Efforts to protect the rights of workers in all countries that will be party to this deal are not finished.
"The impact of the deal must be measured not only by what is in the final agreement, but also by what Mexico adopts legislatively to implement its commitments. Also, what will the Trump Administration and Congress do to ensure that the provisions of any final agreement are effectively applied, monitored and enforced? Strong text in an agreement backed up by legislative changes in Mexico will only matter if they are fully and faithfully enforced.
"It is vital to understand that this debate is not about free trade, protectionism or ivory-tower academic arguments. It is about what will happen to real people. NAFTA's long-term impact has been devastating, and reforms are sorely needed.
"The members of the USW, the largest industrial union in North America, have suffered from the devastating impact of NAFTA on manufacturing and employment in both the United States and Canada. And workers in Mexico, who now make no more than they did before NAFTA, never benefited from the massive profits that multinational corporations realized as a result of the agreement.
"The USW and other labor groups have worked closely with U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer since the United States initiated renegotiation of NAFTA. Labor has provided concrete and specific recommendations. Ambassador Lighthizer has worked diligently and seriously to resolve these issues.
"Reversing the negative impact of NAFTA has been a priority of the USW since the day Congress approved it nearly 25 years ago.
"The key question now is whether this new agreement, when final, will make a measurable difference in workers' lives and whether workers will have confidence in the new provisions and the commitment of government to enforce those provisions.
"Also critical is what provisions will be negotiated relative to the Section 232 actions on steel and aluminum. From the beginning, the USW has made it clear that Canada should not have been subject to Section 232 measures. Our economies are integrated, and our national security interests are intertwined, as are our steel and aluminum markets. The U.S. has no stronger or more reliable economic and national security partner. The impacts of any provisions in this area are key concerns not only on a bilateral basis, but for the USW, whose members work in this sector in both countries.
"The USW looks forward to continuing to work with the Administration, Congress and our colleagues in Mexico and Canada to ensure that a final agreement and all of the implementing provisions promote broadly-shared prosperity for all workers in North America. We remain hopeful that the provisions will measure up and are committed to making this happen."
The USW represents 850,000 workers in North America employed in many industries that include metals, rubber, chemicals, paper, oil refining and the service and public sectors. For more information: www.usw.org.