October 01, 2017

CNN Op-Ed: Canada's wake-up call to the US on NAFTA

President Donald Trump, a loud and persistent critic of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), recently began renegotiating this trade deal with Canada and Mexico. The President promised to secure a fair deal for American workers. That sounds great. After all, we don't think Americans should be forced to compete with poorly paid workers from Mexico or elsewhere, and we can demand that companies that want to trade with us lift wages, benefits, and health and safety standards for their foreign workers.

So it probably came as a shock that one of Canada's main goals in this renegotiation is to get the United States to treat our own workers better. Canada doesn't want its workers competing with poorly-treated laborers -- including workers in the United States. And they have a specific target in mind.


Strong unions lift wages for all workers -- even those workers who aren't union members. Union membership is sharply lower in "right-to-work" states -- after all, that was the whole point of these laws. And the impact is clear: In "right-to-work" states, wages are lower and employees are less likely to have access to employer-provided health care and pensions -- and that's true for union and nonunion employees.


A nation that cares about its workers shouldn't need foreign negotiators to sound the alarm. It's a national embarrassment -- and it should spur us to action.

That's why earlier last week I introduced a bill repealing the provision in the National Labor Relations Act that allows states to implement "right-to-work" laws. Giant companies that have become accustomed to squeezing every last dime of profit out of their workers in "right-to-work" states will fight any effort to improve workers' rights. But let's be clear: we don't allow these corporations to exploit their workers when we negotiate trade deals with countries like Colombia or Panama. As we renegotiate NAFTA, we shouldn't allow them to exploit workers in Canada and Mexico, either. And above all, we must not let them exploit our own workers here at home.

Read the full op-ed on the CNN website here.


By:  Senator Elizabeth Warren
Source: CNN