After decades of unfair trade policies, starting with NAFTA, that have devastated our manufacturing sector and shattered our local communities, we thank Senator Sherrod Brown for not giving in or giving up to help secure a deal that finally prioritizes working people.
When AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka came to Ohio in June we held events in Youngstown, Cleveland and Toledo to talk about NAFTA and any potential re-write. President Trumka was crystal clear that any new deal would not have Labor’s support if it did not put workers first and include critical enforcement provisions.
Thanks to Senator Brown, someone who has spent his Congressional career understanding how international trade works while speaking up and fighting to include workers’ rights, we now have a trade deal in USMCA that we can support.
“One of my proudest votes was against NAFTA in 1993, because I knew it would encourage multinational corporations to close factories in Ohio and offshore jobs to Mexico. The agreement President Trump negotiated wasn’t much better, and I have spent more than a year working to make it more pro-worker. We fought tooth and nail against the Administration, and with the support of Speaker Pelosi, Senator Wyden, and the union movement, we secured significant improvements for workers that President Trump’s initial agreement left out, namely stronger enforcement,” said Senator Brown.
We were only able to get this deal across the finish line and get to “Yes” because organized Labor and leaders like Senator Brown said, “No deal, however good the main text may be,” unless the labor provisions are clearly stated and enforceable.
There are nine key issues of enforcement that we highlighted where Senator Brown and Speaker Pelosi were able to add to or improve on current law or the Administration’s proposal. They include:
- Enforceable Labor Standards
- Facility-specific labor enforcement mechanism
- Unreasonable legal barriers to bringing labor claims
- Mexican labor-law reform
- Violence against trade unionists
- Bans trade of forced-labor goods
- Investor-State Dispute Settlement
- Access to medicines
- Rules of Origin
The USMCA is far from perfect. It alone is not a solution for outsourcing or inequality. Successfully tackling these issues requires a full-court press of economic policies that empower workers, including the repeal of tax cuts which reward companies for shipping our jobs overseas.
But there is no denying that the trade rules in America will now be more fair because of the advocacy of organized labor, working people and leaders like Senator Brown. We are optimistic that this deal sets a new pro-worker standard for future trade negotiations and are grateful to Senator Brown for his expertise and determination.