The battle to keep unsafe and polluting Mexican trucks off U.S. highways is one the Teamsters have been fighting for years. Despite numerous legal challenges, the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) has allowed these vehicles access to the nation’s thoroughfares.
That, however, could be changing. A new resolution unveiled by Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-Ore.) and others earlier this month would impose fixes to NAFTA when it comes to enforcing strict safety and environmental requirements for any commercial vehicles domiciled in other countries. The new measure would require foreign-based vehicles and drivers entering the U.S. to meet highway safety and environmental standards before being granted access to the nation’s transportation systems.
“We now have Mexican truck drivers who don’t have meaningful driver records or commercial driver’s licenses and are not subject to drug testing and hours of service in Mexico driving in the U.S.,” DeFazio said. “That’s unacceptable. It is a safety hazard, and it is also a loss of jobs here in the United States of America.”
The lawmaker, speaking during a Capitol Hill event detailing the resolution, said it makes no sense that this country gave up a system that was working so well for one that puts Americans at risk. He added that striking the provision is a top priority of his as part of any NAFTA rewrite.
Of course, there is no shortage of reasons why a revamping of this terrible trade pact is needed. The resolution outlines a number of key provisions that must be included in the text of any renegotiation of NAFTA, which President Trump made a priority during last year’s election. These include strong, enforceable labor and environmental standards, protections against currency manipulation and the removal of the Investor-State Dispute Settlement process that gives foreign corporations the ability to contest U.S. laws in front of a private tribunal.
Rep. Rick Nolan (D-Minn.), a former Teamster himself, said it is time for elected officials to reverse the “race to the bottom” NAFTA created by opening up the process again. “If we don’t renegotiate it, we have to put the pressure on to make sure we withdraw, and restore the American Dream,” he stated.
Lawmakers are calling for quick action on revamping NAFTA. The resolution urges the White House to initiate a renegotiation of the trade deal no later than June 1, and that all of resolution’s provisions must be agreed to by Mexico, Canada and the U.S. before agreement can be approved.
It is clear the current trade agreement has not helped working Americans. It’s time for a fix that places their interests before big business.