With NAFTA Deadline Looming, A Glimpse at What Voters Actually Want Out of Trade Deals

Elizabeth Brotherton-Bunch

Elizabeth Brotherton-Bunch Digital Media Director, Alliance for American Manufacturing

The self-imposed deadline for reaching a trilateral deal on the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) is Sept. 30. Barring a miracle at the 11th hour, more than likely the deadline will be missed.

Conventional wisdom is that despite the missed deadline — and continued tension between Trump and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau — talks between the United States and Canada are likely to continue. The U.S. and Mexico already have made a deal, after all, and there’s a lot of desire to make sure Canada is ultimately included in the final agreement.

Most of the media coverage of the NAFTA negotiations have centered on the inside baseball aspects of it: When are talks happening? What’s the mood been like between negotiators? What latest insult has Trump hurdled at Trudeau?

But what’s missing is something pretty essential: What do Americans actually want to get out of a new NAFTA deal?

The Mellman Group, Inc., and Public Opinion Strategies asked 1,200 likely voters just that. What the pollsters found is that across all demographics — political parties, race, region, and more — voters have a pretty clear idea of what they want trade agreements like NAFTA to accomplish.

Higher wages top the list, as 72 percent of poll respondents said it is “very important” that trade deals “raise wages for U.S. workers.” Voters also want trade agreements to “promote strong alliances” and “establish penalties to prevent trade partners from cheating.”

Other “very important” priorities include reducing the trade deficit (66 percent); maximizing the use of U.S. parts in automobiles and other products (65 percent); and reduce barriers to American goods in foreign markets (64 percent).

The findings were fairly consistent across party lines. Democrats putting a bigger premium on raising wages, with 84 percent saying its “very important or one of the most important things” in trade deals. But Republicans still expressed significant support, with 60 percent agreeing that it is at least “very important.”

And while 75 percent of Republicans said that establishing penalties for unfair trade was “very important or one of the most important,” Democrats weren’t too far behind, with 59 percent agreeing that doing so is at least “very important.”

Another finding worth noting: Voters aren’t opposed to trade agreements, but they don’t necessarily support them, either. The poll found 32 percent of respondents strongly agreed with the statement that free trade agreements “have always benefited the U.S. and we should sign more of them,” while 32 percent said they disagreed with the statement.

Meanwhile, 75 percent of poll respondents agreed that “Free trade is a goal, but in the real world we cannot get there unless we are also willing to use tough measures at the same time.”

When given a list of eight proposals “to create jobs and strengthen the economy” — which included other priorities like infrastructure investment, cracking down on unfair trade, and vocational and technical training — “enacting more free trade agreements” ranked near the bottom, with just 11 percent of respondents saying it was one of the most important things to do.

As NAFTA talks move forward — and other agreements also get worked out — U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and his negotiating team would be wise to keep these findings in mind. Americans aren’t opposed to trade deals in principle, but they also want to make sure that such agreements benefit workers and don’t include loopholes for abuse.

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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

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