Friday, March 16, 2018

Labor interests target portions of NAFTA that they say steal U.S. jobs, hurt safety

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

When NAFTA is renegotiated, the Transportation Trades Department of the AFL-CIO wants a prohibition against bus and truck traffic from Mexico that violates U.S. safety rules. (Associated Press)
When NAFTA is renegotiated, the Transportation Trades Department of the AFL-CIO wants a prohibition against bus and truck traffic from Mexico that violates U.S. safety rules. (Associated Press)

WASHINGTON — In comments filed Monday, transportation labor laid out a vision for renegotiating the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) “that puts America’s working families first by growing the U.S. economy, protecting American jobs and prioritizing the safety of our cross-border transportation system.”

In addition to the comprehensive recommendations of the AFL-CIO, the Transportation Trades Department, AFL-CIO (TTD), called for new policies that “enforce strict protections for transportation workers and ensure the industries they work in remain hubs for good, middle-class jobs.

“Our trade agreements, including NAFTA, should not be used to undermine the jobs and rights of transportation employees and the broader U.S. workforce. Not only have promises of greater wealth and more opportunity not come to fruition under NAFTA, but the very rules and regulations designed to keep working people safe have been jeopardized under this agreement,” said Edward Wytkind, president of TTD. “President Trump campaigned on a promise to reform our trade policies. The renegotiation of NAFTA presents a clear opportunity to craft a new agreement that expands and strengthens the American middle class and ensures our transportation system remains the safest in the world.”

Specifically, TTD is calling for any renegotiated version of NAFTA to:

  • “Prohibit bus and truck traffic from Mexico that violates U.S. safety rules including attempts to evade Hours of Service limits, drug and alcohol testing, and appropriate credentialing for Mexico-based drivers
  • “Uphold U.S.-backed standards for safety inspections of freight rail locomotives and prohibit Mexico-based freight train crews from operating trains beyond the border
  • “Preserve ‘buy America’ standards and other procurement rules that maximize job creation when U.S. taxpayer dollars are invested in the economy
  • “Require each country to make minimum investments in infrastructure to facilitate economic expansion
  • “Ensure that foreign companies cannot use NAFTA to force the privatization of local transit, rail and other public services, and
  • “Protect U.S. aviation and maritime sectors from unfair competition by continuing to exclude these industries from the scope of the agreement.

“Our trade agreements should be designed to put money in the pockets of America’s working families, not large, multi-national corporations or foreign governments,” Wytkind said. “We call on this administration to renegotiate NAFTA in a way that will create good jobs for Americans who need them most, grow the economy and uphold strict standards that keep our transportation system and working people safe.”

Meanwhile, in comments submitted June 12 to United States Trade Representative (USTR) Robert Lighthizer, the Motor and Equipment Manufacturers Association (MEMA) took a firm stance on behalf of its members, arguing that great care should be taken in renegotiating or modernizing NAFTA.

The detailed comments, which were in response to the USTR’s request for comment on NAFTA, outlined a number of important positions, including:

  • “Motor vehicles suppliers are part of a global industry and are dependent on a world-wide network of suppliers and customers for continued viability and growth.
  • “NAFTA enabled “nearshoring” of an interconnected supply chain between the U.S., Canada, and Mexico that has provided the opportunity for U.S. manufacturers to compete with the rest of the world.
  • “NAFTA fostered a 19 percent increase in motor vehicle parts manufacturing jobs in the U.S. over the last five years, and
  • “Free and fair trade is imperative for a strong domestic supplier industry.”

“MEMA members operate in a global industry with suppliers, customers, and facilities worldwide,” said MEMA President and CEO Steve Handschuh in the statement. “Open markets and integrated supply chains provide the framework for economic growth and jobs in our industry.  NAFTA has served our industry, the American worker, and the U.S. economy well.”

While MEMA supports the NAFTA, the motor vehicle parts supplier industry also recognizes that some components of the 23-year-old agreement can be modernized, Handschuh said.

“MEMA supports the administration’s efforts to update NAFTA,” he said. “A modernized and renegotiated NAFTA should provide the United States with the framework for our industries, citizens, and economy to thrive. MEMA urges the administration to renegotiate the NAFTA in such a manner to create a more competitive U.S. manufacturing environment. Care must be taken to balance re-shoring of U.S. jobs with the unintended risks to current workers and the supply base. The final NAFTA product must continue to provide for a vibrant North American supply chain, which supports U.S. jobs and competitiveness.”

Modernization could include “encouraging more cooperation between the participating countries and the industry to improve international trade; creating forums for investor-state disputes; enforcing intellectual property rights; and promoting a harmonized regulatory system.

“The stability and integration of the North American supply chain has been particularly beneficial to suppliers, contributing to growth in jobs and investments in the United States. MEMA adamantly supports reasonable tax and trade policies that will allow this trend to continue.”



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