A diverse cross-sector collection of more than a thousand labor, environmental, family farm, consumer, civil rights, faith, small business, public health and community groups has sent a unified message that the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) renegotiation must prioritize public health, working people and the environment over corporate profits.
Civil society groups outlined their demands for NAFTA renegotiation on March 21st, through a letter delivered by the Citizens Trade Campaign (an affiliate of the California Trade Justice Coalition) to U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer during his testimony on trade policy at a Ways & Means committee hearing.
Pointing the loss of more than 930,000 American jobs certified as lost to NAFTA and falling Mexican wages, the letter outlines what is needed to replace the pact with a new agreement that would address the huge disparity in labor rights, wages and environmental standards between the three countries for the benefit of working families, the environment and public health continent-wide.
California played an important part in this letter, with signatures from a diverse array of organizations from within the labor, environmental and human rights movements.
The letter urges Congress to demand that the NAFTA renegotiation:
- Stop outsourcing and raise wages by adding strong labor and environmental standards with swift and certain enforcement;
- Eliminate NAFTA terms that promote the outsourcing of Americans’ jobs, including Investor-State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) provisions;
- Protect consumers and the environment and ensure a level playing field for U.S. businesses, farmers and workers by ending NAFTA rules that threaten food safety and food labeling;
- Make medicine more affordable by eliminating NAFTA rules that increase costs;
- Ensure a fair playing field for American job creation by adding strong, enforceable disciplines against currency manipulation;
- Create American jobs and reinforce improved labor and environmental standards by strengthening “rules of origin” and stopping transshipment;
- Protect health and the environment by requiring that all imported goods and all services and service providers meet U.S. standards and add a specific safeguard for domestic environmental, health, labor and other public interest policies;
- Boost the rural economy by overhauling NAFTA rules that harm family farmers; and
- Make the NAFTA renegotiation process transparent and participatory.
The letter warns that “In the absence of a binding and easily-enforced agreement based on these critical measures, Mexican workers will continue to be horribly exploited, American jobs will continue to be outsourced, the environment will continue to be degraded and the wages for workers in all three NAFTA countries will continue to decline.”
A PDF of the letter, with the complete list of signing organizations, is online at: https://www.citizenstrade.org/ctc/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/NAFTAOrgSignOnLetter_032118.pdf
photo credit: David Bacon