NAFTA 2.0 Crossroads Labor demand: must raise wages in all three nations

  • October 12, 2017

NAFTA Crossroads Looming

Via our subscription service from Politico Pro, the latest developments on NAFTA negotiations, following on reports out of Canada that President Trump suggested the possibility of replacing NAFTA with a new U.S.-Canada deal that would leave Mexico out entirely during a meeting with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

The AFL-CIO joined today with four Democratic lawmakers and labor leaders from the NAFTA countries to draw their line in the sand — they will oppose any update of the deal that fails to include enforceable rules to raise wages for workers in all three nations.

“If it continues to disadvantage workers, if it doesn’t address workers rights in Mexico, Canada or the U.S., if it doesn’t do those things, we’ll have no choice but to call it what it is and that’s more of the same,” AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka told reporters today. “And we’ll have to oppose it.”

Trumka emphasized NAFTA has been “an economic disaster” for labor that must be fixed to ensure workers in the three countries can negotiate for better wages — particularly to boost the minimum wage in Mexico, which is now 80 pesos (about $4) a day. Workers’ rights advocates in Mexico call for the minimum wage to be increased to 300 pesos (about $15) a day.

The labors leaders at the press conference noted that several flashpoint issues in the talks, such as on the investor-state dispute settlement process, right-to-work laws and rules of origin, are all areas that have the potential to deeply affect North American workers. A new NAFTA, they said, must raise labor standards across the region.

“If you don’t have meaningful standards, business will flee to those with the worst standards,” Rep. Sander Levin said alongside House colleagues Bobby Scott, Rosa DeLauro, and Keith Ellison.