Labor Unions Not Joining Trump Victory Lap on NAFTA For Now

  • October 1, 2018

Teamsters Not Endorsing New NAFTA Just Yet

According to The Hill, President Trump is taking a victory lap over the tentative agreement on NAFTA, calling the last-minute deal with Canada to salvage the three-nation North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), calling it “the most important trade deal we’ve ever made by far.” 

Organized labor is taking more of a wait and see approach. The Teamsters said today they’re not ready to endorse a new NAFTA deal reached Sunday.

“There is still work to be done on this deal and more analysis is necessary before the Teamsters can give it our unqualified support,” Teamsters President James P. Hoffa said in a statement. “The ink is still wet and Canada only rejoined the pact at the last minute — as I and the leadership of Teamsters Canada have asked for all along — so we need some time to analyze the effects of this new ‘USMCA’ agreement on all our members.”

The labor chapter contains “obligations and protections that are superior to the original NAFTA, and also to the Trans-Pacific Partnership,” Hoffa said. However, Hoffa said he’s skeptical that enforcement mechanisms are strong enough to prevent U.S. jobs from migrating south. Part of that will be contingent on Mexico passing new labor laws, he said.

“To the extent that the United States has reserved the right to institute new restrictions on Mexican-domiciled carriers in NAFTA 2.0, we look forward to working with the Administration and Congress to craft those new restrictions in the implementing legislation and new regulations,” Hoffa said.

A formal vote in Congress won’t be held until 2019, and it’s still unclear whether lawmakers — including Republicans who have often clashed with President Donald Trump on trade — will support the deal

Machinists Union also declines to endorse NAFTA

The International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers today declined to immediately endorse President Donald Trump’s renegotiated NAFTA deal, following the lead of other unions.

In a statement, union President Robert Martinez Jr. said it’s unclear whether the deal will curb outsourcing of American jobs and improve the standard of living for workers.

“Far too many details of the text have yet to be finalized for us to make a final judgement [sic],” Martinez said. “Given the past failures of NAFTA, and other trade agreements, we will be carefully reviewing the entire deal in the days ahead.”

Aerospace is the third-largest industry in Mexico, according to the U.S. Trade Representative, employing as many as 40,000 people a year. The labor advisory committee to USTR last week criticized the renegotiated deal with Mexico for not including new protections for the outsourcing of aerospace parts.

An IAM spokesman said the union’s trade experts are still reviewing the text of the deal, which would have to be approved by Congress.

“While current language includes some welcome improvements, it also retains some of the most serious flaws of the proposed TPP, including provisions that limit the types of labor violations that would be covered by the agreement,” Martinez said. “We will be reviewing language concerning standards and enforcement once they are finalized.”