White House Officially Tells Congress It Will Enter Trade Agreement with Mexico, and Maybe Canada

The Trump administration moved forward on Friday with its U.S.-Mexico trade agreement, officially notifying Congress that it plans to enter the new deal.

That deal, of course, is intended to replace the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), and by sending the official notification letter to Congress, the administration starts a 90-day countdown to withdraw from the old agreement.

And while the U.S. and Mexico have come to terms, whether any agreement can be reached with the third member of NAFTA – Canada – remains unclear. The administration said Canada could be added to the agreement “if it is willing.”

Things had looked promising earlier in the week, with Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland telling reporters on Thursday afternoon that the atmosphere was positive and “we are making progress.”

Then on Friday afternoon, the Toronto Star released a bombshell report that President Trump had told Bloomberg in off-the-record remarks that he would not compromise with Canada. In true Trump style, the president confirmed those comments via Twitter on Friday afternoon.

Oh boy.

Despite the animosity between the president and our Northern neighbor, U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and his team are still set to meet with Freeland and her team on Wednesday. In a statement, Lighthizer said that the week’s talks “were constructive, and we made progress.”

“Our officials are continuing to work toward agreement,” Lighthizer added.

So what now?

While there certainly has been a ton of juicy back-and-forth diplomatic brinkmanship in recent days, we still are missing a ton of information about what the actual agreement between the United States and Mexico looks like, and what a potential deal involving Canada may include. That’s ultimately what will matter to American workers and manufacturers.

As Matt noted earlier this week, it was encouraging to see reports that the U.S.-Mexico deal includes stronger rules of origin for automobiles, along with higher wage standards. But we have yet to see the specifics, so it’s difficult to judge how effective any of this might be. There also are procedural questions for the administration to consider as it negotiates with Canada, which remains an important trade partner.

Here’s what matters: The original NAFTA agreement is outdated and needs to be modernized, given the technological and globalization challenges that have emerged since it was first signed into law by former President Bill Clinton back in 1993.

We have a few specific ideas on how to improve the old NAFTA, and urge negotiators to work for an agreement that creates a better playing field, an environment more welcoming to domestic factory investments, and policies that restore and expand lost supply chains.

There’s still a long way to go in this process, and the diplomatic drama will no doubt continue. But Lighthizer and his team should stay focused on delivering a better deal for American workers, which is what’s ultimately at stake.

***

Reposted from AAM

Posted In: Allied Approaches, From Alliance for American Manufacturing

Union Matters

Get to Know AFL-CIO's Affiliates: National Association of Letter Carriers

From the AFL-CIO

Next up in our series that takes a deeper look at each of our affiliates is the National Association of Letter Carriers.

Name of Union: National Association of Letter Carriers (NALC)

Mission: To unite fraternally all city letter carriers employed by the U.S. Postal Service for their mutual benefit; to obtain and secure rights as employees of the USPS and to strive at all times to promote the safety and the welfare of every member; to strive for the constant improvement of the Postal Service; and for other purposes. NALC is a single-craft union and is the sole collective-bargaining agent for city letter carriers.

Current Leadership of Union: Fredric V. Rolando serves as president of NALC, after being sworn in as the union's 18th president in 2009. Rolando began his career as a letter carrier in 1978 in South Miami before moving to Sarasota in 1984. He was elected president of Branch 2148 in 1988 and served in that role until 1999. In the ensuing years, he worked in various roles for NALC before winning his election as a national officer in 2002, when he was elected director of city delivery. In 2006, he won election as executive vice president. Rolando was re-elected as NALC president in 2010, 2014 and 2018.

Brian Renfroe serves as executive vice president, Lew Drass as vice president, Nicole Rhine as secretary-treasurer, Paul Barner as assistant secretary-treasurer, Christopher Jackson as director of city delivery, Manuel L. Peralta Jr. as director of safety and health, Dan Toth as director of retired members, Stephanie Stewart as director of the Health Benefit Plan and James W. “Jim” Yates as director of life insurance.

Number of Members: 291,000 active and retired letter carriers.

Members Work As: City letter carriers.

Industries Represented: The United States Postal Service.

History: In 1794, the first letter carriers were appointed by Congress as the implementation of the new U.S. Constitution was being put into effect. By the time of the Civil War, free delivery of city mail was established and letter carriers successfully concluded a campaign for the eight-hour workday in 1888. The next year, letter carriers came together in Milwaukee and the National Association of Letter Carriers was formed.

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There is Dignity in All Work

There is Dignity in All Work