USW: NAFTA Negotiators Need Time to Get it Right

CONTACT: Holly Hart, (202) 778-4384, hhart@usw.org

United Steelworkers (USW) International President Leo W. Gerard issued the following statement today after negotiators for the countries covered by the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) announced that talks to update and reform the agreement would continue over the coming weeks.

“We welcome today’s announcement that negotiations will continue. Several substantive hurdles still need to be cleared. Working families have been living through the NAFTA nightmare for more than 25 years. Taking more time to revise the agreement so that it promotes, rather than undermines, the interests of workers in all three countries is worth it.

“NAFTA negotiators should take the time to hammer out a good deal rather than causing further damage through the additional outsourcing of jobs and production.

“Negotiations are at a critical phase on a number of issues that will determine the competitive landscape. Key is whether Mexico will change its labor laws and enforcement, and ensure that workers are paid family-supportive wages. The U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) has made clear its priorities, many of which could improve NAFTA if effectively negotiated and fully enforced. Rushing to conclude an agreement and lowering the standards will only make things worse.

“There’s no question that NAFTA has been an utter failure. It’s time to fix it, but negotiators need time to get it right. We will continue to work with the USTR to try and achieve an agreement that meets the needs of working families in the United States, Canada and Mexico.”

The USW represents 850,000 workers in North America employed in many industries that include metals, rubber, chemicals, paper, oil refining and the service and public sectors. 

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