For more than a quarter century, North America’s working families have raised our voices for a better trade policy. The defenders of corporate-dominated trade rules too often portray trade as an end in itself. But trade is not an end, it is a means. Trade policy must be judged by whether it leads to a just, inclusive and sustainable economy. An economy that works for all, regardless of race, gender or national origin, and that in particular lifts up the most vulnerable. By that measure, the North American Free Trade Agreement, which has driven the outsourcing of so many good jobs, has been a catastrophic failure.
The labor movement has made clear that we need a new deal that makes a real difference in stemming outsourcing and improving workers’ lives. Work on this issue is far from complete.
The labor movement rejects the proposition that we must choose between corporate-dominated trade rules on the one hand and xenophobic economic isolation on the other. Neither is remotely acceptable. It is possible to have trade rules that lift wages and treat all countries fairly.
For the better part of a generation, our global trading system has been rigged to enrich corporations at our expense. And no deal has done more damage to working people than NAFTA. The beneficiaries of the current trade model want to pit us against each other in their never ending quest to leave us poor, divided and weak.
But we know better. We know our enemy is not American, Canadian or Mexican workers. Workers are never the enemy.
Trade itself is also not the enemy. We support trade. But our movement is trying to shape globalization, not stop it. We are working to change the debate by focusing on trade rules, the structures that, for too long, have killed jobs and lowered wages.
This isn’t a matter of whether or not to trade. Of course, we should open up new markets for our products and do business with people all over the world.
The real challenge is to advance trade policy that creates shared prosperity and makes the world stronger and safer. Bring us a deal like that, and we’ll support it.
That deal has not yet come. But we as working people can do something about it. You can sign the petition and call to urge Congress to not vote on NAFTA until it is fixed!.