AFL-CIO: How the Canadians are Trying to Use NAFTA to Raise Your Wage

Labor News

Jerry Dias, president of Canada's Unifor trade union, discusses NAFTA talks with the media on September 3, 2017. (Reuters/Carlos Jasso)

Reprinted from The AFL-CIO’s blog Now by Celeste Drake on September 19,2017.

“Finally, after nearly a quarter of a century, the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) is being renegotiated,”writes Celeste Drake for The AFL-CIO’s blog Now. “This is a good thing. NAFTA is called a ‘trade deal,’ but it’s mostly a collection of rules that give corporations more power over the three economies of North America. It gives companies tools to undermine laws and rules that protect America’s working families. It increased threats by US employers to close workplaces and move to Mexico. And once the companies got there, NAFTA provided strict rules for them, but only vague guidelines to protect working people’s rights and freedoms.

“NAFTA negotiations have not progressed very far, and it is too early to say whether the effort will bring a New Economic Deal to working people or simply more crony capitalism. But there was some fantastic, surprising, excellent news recently.

“The Canadian negotiating team did something big: They told the US negotiators that US laws that interfere with people’s freedom to negotiate on the job are dragging down standards for Canada and need to be abolished. Guess what? Canada is right.

“These laws, known as ‘right to work,’ are another example of the wealthiest 1% rigging the rules to weaken the freedom of people joining together in union and negotiating with employers for better pay, benefits and conditions at work. Not surprisingly, states with these freedom-crushing laws are less safe and have lower wages, dragging down workplace standards for those in other states, and apparently in Canada, too. …

AFL-CIO now 9/19

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Jeff Burman represents assistant editors on the Guild’s Board of Directors. He can be reached at

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