(OTTAWA) – The International Brotherhood of Teamsters, with members in transport and manufacturing in both the U.S. and Canada, brought leaders to Ottawa over the weekend to influence the on-going secret NAFTA renegotiation.
Several issues that are priorities for Teamsters are on the table in the third round of talks, including workers’ rights, highway safety and dairy market access. The Teamsters have also joined the chorus of civil society groups that are calling for the elimination of the controversial dispute settlement mechanism in NAFTA’s investment chapter whereby corporations can sue governments.
International President James Hoffa emphasized the importance of workers’ rights and strongly advised the U.S. delegation against tabling a labor chapter that fails to level the playing field among the three NAFTA countries.
“The first draft of the U.S. proposal on worker rights is inadequate and needs to be reworked,” Hoffa stated. “The Canadian text, however, goes farther and even addresses American right-to-work laws that depress wages and therefore attract companies in a ‘free trade’ race to the bottom. I urge the U.S. negotiators to work with us and with their Canadian counterparts to craft a labor chapter that will raise standards and wages throughout North America. Anything less should not be a starting point for these negotiations. It is imperative that a NAFTA replacement get it right when it comes to workers’ rights.”
François Laporte, President of Teamsters Canada, dispatched the head of the Dairy Division, David Froelich of Alberta, to meet with the lead Canadian negotiators on agriculture issues. “As Canada’s dairy workers’ union, we represent the employees of the dairy processors who make cheese and other products from the milk that Canada’s dairy farmers produce, and we support the farmers and the government in their defense of our supply management system,” Laporte explained. “Dairy market access was not on the table in the first NAFTA and it should not be part of the renegotiation.”
The Teamsters are North America’s supply chain union. With members in long-haul trucking and freight rail, at ports and in warehouses, as well as members in manufacturing and food processing, the Teamsters have a big stake in trade policy reform. In Washington and Ottawa and coast to coast, they will be monitoring the modernization of the flawed and failed NAFTA, and working together to make sure that the new NAFTA works for working families.
Founded in 1903, the International Brotherhood of Teamsters represents 1.4 million hardworking men and women throughout the United States, Canada and Puerto Rico. Visit www.teamster.org for more information. Follow us on Twitter @Teamsters and “like” us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/teamsters.