A Message from General President Jim Hoffa
America has seen firsthand the terrible damage trade deals like the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) have brought to this country. It is estimated NAFTA has cost the U.S. more than 700,000 jobs overall as of 2013.
That is unacceptable, but not surprising given the $50 billion trade deficit this country had with Mexico as of last year. Trade policy changes are needed to rebalance the scales between North American nations. Luckily, a number of House members came together recently to roll out a blueprint of just how to do so.
The resolution (H.R. 132) 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.
Those are all-important steps that would help workers. But the proposal would also eliminate language that has hampered the U.S. auto and trucking industries in recent years. Those issues have often been overlooked but hold significant importance.
Fixes are also needed when it comes to enforcing strict safety and environmental requirements for any commercial vehicles domiciled in other countries. As it stands, NAFTA requires the U.S. to open its roads to all North American trucking traffic, even if it doesn’t follow U.S. laws. Changes must be made that 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.
The resolution calls on the White House to initiate a renegotiation of the trade deal no later than June 1, and that all of the resolution’s provisions must be agreed to by Mexico, Canada and the U.S. before the agreement can be approved.
The Teamsters and other unions are endorsing this measure because it provides a roadmap for the U.S. Trade Representative and the Trump administration to follow if they want to fix this broken trade deal. Agreements like NAFTA have undermined the manufacturing industry in this country for decades, sending numerous jobs overseas.
It is long past time to negotiate fair trade agreements that protect working families and provide good jobs in America.