WIN Special Report: Will A New NAFTA Raise Wages And Protect Workers?
By Doug Cunningham
[Celeste Drake]: “Is there gonna be a labor chapter? Yes. is the labor chapter going to work? And is it going to raise wages in Mexico so that we can also raise wages in the U.S. and Canada, too?
That’s an open question.”
The AFL-CIO’s Celeste Drake from the NAFTA re-negotiation talks in Washington DC. The original NAFTA did not put labor or environmental chapters into the main text.
The Teamsters Mike Dolan, an international trade lobbyist for the union and Jim Hoffa’s liaison in the NAFTA re-negotiations.
[Mike Dolan]: “At the end of the day if it doesn’t work for working families – and I don’t mean just in the U.S. – but I mean for working families throughout North America – then we will oppose it. We will oppose NAFTA 2.0.
We’ll find out whether or not this NAFTA replacement will be something that actually puts the workers in front of the short-term profit motives of corporate and investment elites.”
The NAFTA re-negotiations are moving at a very fast pace for trade agreement talks. Celeste Drake says that while the US Trade Representative is serious about the talks and does seem to be listening to labor, she has real concerns about transparency and the lack of real democracy as this new NAFTA is decided.
[Celeste Drake]: “It’s a very closed door process that when you marry it to the fast track provisions that allow it to be voted on at the end with no amendments, quick debate, it’s really problematic in terms of democracy.
Because the general public, if you’re outside that stakeholder group, you didn’t get to help make it and you don’t get to help fix it. So it’s really undemocratic.”
Dolan says the Teamsters want to take the ISDS private corporate trade court out of NAFTA along with the open cross border trucking provisions. Here’s wha the Teamsters want to be IN the new NAFTA.
[Mike Dolan]: “The new NAFTA, NAFTA 2.0, must include a labor chapter with enforceable protections against child labor, forced labor. And protections for some of the labor rights that we take for granted in this country like freedom of association and collective bargaining.
As well, we want to see wage rates increase under NAFTA so there isn’t this incentive to relocate production south of the border to Mexico, which is what we’ve seen for the last twenty-plus years.”
But according to Canadian NAFTA negotiators Mexico isn’t the only NAFTA nation undercutting labor standards. Canada wants the U.S. to rescind its anti-union laws called ‘Right To Work’. Drake says they’re serious.
[Celeste Drake]: “They’re serious. Their eyes are open. They know what a tough ask this is for the United States.
But this isn’t just a game where they’re gonna push the proposal across the table and take it right back immediately.”
[Mike Dolan]: “Basically what they’re saying is that these state laws that undermine the power of unions have therefore he effect of depressing wages.”