U.S. must seek strong protections for jobs in NAFTA talks

While the national conversation is dominated by heated arguments over whether athletes can protest, the administration is quietly and quickly pushing forward policy changes that will have long-lasting effects on workers and communities in Everett and across North America: NAFTA renegotiation.

Already, the third round of negotiations for the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) is finishing up, and despite Trump’s promises to make NAFTA better for workers, recently his team proposed only weak standards that would do nothing to stem the flow of jobs to wherever workers can be paid the least.

NAFTA and subsequent deals have cost more than 79,000 direct jobs here in Washington state, according to just one narrow government retraining program that for most of its existence didn’t even include service jobs like call centers that were closed and shipped overseas. These job losses push down everyone’s wages: NAFTA-style trade has suppressed most Americans’ pay by 12.2 precent, according to a new report from the Center for Economic and Policy Research. That means some $3,300 less in their pockets each year for workers earning the median U.S. wage! Workers in Mexico don’t benefit, either, from the dangerous, low-wage jobs that move in and dominate their economy.

Creating a fair deal isn’t rocket science. It just requires putting the needs of working Washingtonians and others ahead of Wall Street. As NAFTA renegotiations speed forward, will U.S. Reps. Rick Larsen and Suzan DelBene speak out for real, strong and enforceable labor standards that will make sure that anywhere in North America a corporation has to treat its workers fairly?

Michael Schendel

Washington Alliance of Technology Workers

Bothell

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