NAFTA Renegotiations Must Prioritize Working People

As White House launches new talks on NAFTA, unions demand stronger protections for working people, environment

Its official- President Trump is looking to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).  News broke when the White House sent an official notice to Congress that failed to include details or a hint of the President’s vision on how he plans to renegotiate the notoriously flawed trade agreement. Working people and their unions were quick to respond.

“The promise of NAFTA being a job creator was hollow,” said California Labor Federation Executive Secretary-Treasurer Art Pulaski. “Thousands of California workers watched helplessly as this flawed trade agreement led to the outsourcing of middle-class jobs. While renegotiating NAFTA is a start, the Trump Administration must fulfill its promise to working people to create an agreement that prioritizes good jobs over corporate greed. We’ll be watching closely to ensure that the voices of working people are heard throughout this process.”

When campaigning for President, Trump promised to make NAFTA “much better” for working people. Holding him accountable to these promises is more important than ever. Leaked copies of his plans for renegotiation raised red flags in March – the outline of his plan seemed like a wish list from Wall Street. The leaked copy discussed reviving parts of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) including expanded rights for pharmaceutical firms to block generic competition and keep drug prices high and more investor incentives to offshore jobs that working families depend on. Unfortunately it also appears Trump may keep the negotiations process hidden behind closed-doors, save for hundreds of corporate advisers and lobbyists.

“The administration’s formal announcement that it intends to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement offers potential for progress, but a good outcome is far from guaranteed,” said AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka. “While the president has called NAFTA the worst trade deal in history, his administration has given conflicting signals as to its priorities, raising the prospect that some of NAFTA’s most problematic elements could remain intact.”

“So far, the administration’s trade policies have been mostly backroom affairs, putting corporations and special interests in the driver’s seat at the expense of the public interest,” said Nancy Price, Co-Chair, Alliance for Democracy. “To truly benefit working people and the environment, NAFTA talks must be open and transparent, with opportunities for democratic input by workers and communities who will be most affected by any new agreement.”

The California Trade Justice Coalition also urged President Trump to commit to an open, public process, remove job-killing special investor provisions, and include enforceable labor and environmental standards.

Donald Trump got into the White House on the promise to reverse a trend of massive trade deals negotiated in secret to benefit massive corporations at the expense of working people. The President has to commit to an open process and have working people at the table in order to right this wrong. Time will tell whose side he’s really on and unions will be watching every step of the way.