Democrats, Labor Leaders Push Trump on NAFTA

Trade agreement has failed Michigan workers, businesses
Friday, June 16, 2017

LANSING, Mich. — Rep. Henry Yanez (D–Sterling Heights) and Sen. Curtis Hertel Jr. (D–East Lansing) have introduced resolutions that urge President Donald Trump to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement with stronger provisions on jobs and wages, or pull out of the agreement altogether.

According to the Economic Policy Institute, there were more than 850,000 U.S. jobs lost between 1993 and 2013 — including 43,600 in Michigan — from policies attributed to NAFTA. By 2016, the estimated cumulative trade deficit with NAFTA partners reached nearly $173 million.

 Of the 20 hardest hit congressional districts in the country, half of them were in Michigan — and 65 percent of American workers without college degrees have been hit the hardest.

 “My resolution aims to hold President Trump to his promise to renegotiate NAFTA, which has been disastrous for Michigan businesses, industries and workers, including many hardworking families that I represent,” Rep. Yanez said. “The president promised to deal with NAFTA in his first 100 days, but he has failed to meet his pledge. We need less talk and more action, and NAFTA needs to be renegotiated before more of my constituents lose their jobs, or are forced to take pay cuts.”

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2014, the average manufacturing worker who earned more than $38,000 per year suffered an annual wage loss of at least $7,600.

“Every day without a solution on NAFTA is another day a worker in my district has to worry about their job getting shipped overseas,” Sen. Hertel said. “Hardworking people across Michigan deserve a fair-trade policy that finally puts them first.”

The resolutions introduced asks the president to renegotiate the trade agreement to give greater protections to American workers, eliminate provisions that undermine ‘Buy American’ in procurement contracts, and to enforce environmental standards. 

"Corporate trade deals like NAFTA have been a total disaster for Michigan," said Ron Bieber, president of the Michigan AFL-CIO. "Now it's time to do something about it. Trump needs to keep his campaign promise to renegotiate NAFTA, but more importantly, he needs to do it the right way. That means fighting for strong provisions that protect Michigan jobs and our auto industry. The legislature should send Washington a strong message by passing this important resolution."

The resolutions also request that renegotiation take place by August 18, 2017, and if that doesn’t happen, the U.S. should consider withdrawing from the agreement.

“Instead of boosting our economy and creating good-paying jobs, NAFTA has created growing trade deficits with Canada and Mexico, and has pushed manufacturing workers into lower-wage jobs,” said state Rep. Darrin Camilleri (D-Brownstown Twp.) a cosponsor of the Yanez resolution. “Enough is enough. Our workers deserve better, and President Trump should get to work and do what he promised — renegotiate this treaty that hasn’t lived up to what it promised.”

The Office of the U.S. Trade Representative will hold a public hearing at the U.S. International Trade Commission in Washington, DC, on June 27, 2017, regarding the upcoming renegotiation of NAFTA.