USMCA signing does little to dispel labor skepticism

  • November 30, 2018

Some U.S. labor groups said they won’t support President Donald Trump’s new North American trade deal unless the administration makes major improvements to the deal.

The International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers, for one, said Friday that it can’t back the agreement in its current form.

“While we will continue to offer our suggestions to the administration and Congress with respect to improving the text, unless major changes are made so that outsourcing by corporations seeking Mexico’s suppressed labor costs are adequately addressed IAM cannot support NAFTA 2.0,” said Robert Martinez Jr., president of the union.

Support from labor groups, however tepid, could prove vital for getting broader support for the deal from a Democrat-controlled House next year.

Organized labor has repeatedly said that there have been no assurances that the deal’s labor rules with respect to Mexico will be enforced. The machinists group said the labor chapter “does not come close” to meeting the labor union’s requirements. The group also complained that rules to prevent the outsourcing of auto jobs to Mexico “inexplicably” don’t apply to other manufacturing sectors.

The United Steelworkers also expressed skepticism with the deal, saying that the burden is now on Mexico to make constitutional changes to overhaul the country’s labor arbitration system. U.S. labor groups have long complained that Mexican workers are hindered from forming independent unions, which has led to a trend of suppressed wages.

USW President Leo Gerard called the signing “only another step in the process to reform NAFTA.”

“Only when all the issues have been resolved and it’s clear that Mexico is fully and faithfully recognizing workers’ rights, should Congress vote on the agreement and implementing legislation,” he said in a statement.