LANSING — In advance of tomorrow’s public federal hearing by the Office of U.S. Trade Representative on the renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement, Democratic lawmakers are pushing for major reforms, or outright withdrawal, from the free trade deal.
Rep. Henry Yanez (D–Sterling Heights) and Sen. Curtis Hertel Jr. (D–East Lansing) are stressing that Michigan workers must come first in any decisions about trade revisions.
“Michigan workers and wages have borne the brunt of this unfair trade policy and they deserve relief,” Rep. Yanez said. “People in Macomb County have been particularly harmed, watching their jobs get shipped out and their families suffer. Enough is enough — let’s do this right or get out altogether.”
Rep. Yanez and Sen. Hertel recently sponsored resolutions in the Michigan House and Senate that demands the president to take swift action on renegotiating NAFTA by the end of August. They highlighted the need for changes to include labor and environmental standards that would allow American workers to compete on a level playing field. The resolutions also stressed that any future trade deals should feature strong ‘Buy American’ provisions and be transparent by allowing public input.
“Families in my community worry all the time that their shifts could get cut or sent to a plant in some other country,” Sen. Hertel said. “We have the best workers in the world, but we need fair trade policies to allow them to compete. Anything less is unacceptable.”
The negative impacts of NAFTA have been particularly evident in Michigan. Between 1993 and 2013, the Economic Policy Institute found that Michigan lost 43,600 jobs due to harmful NAFTA policies. Additionally, half of the 20 hardest hit congressional districts in the country were located in the state.
“Working people in Michigan have the skills to compete with anyone, but we need a level playing field,” said Ron Bieber, president of the Michigan AFL-CIO. “Trump needs to keep his campaign promise to renegotiate NAFTA in a way that protects working families in Michigan. We need fair trade agreements that protect Michigan jobs and our auto industry, and we need to end all of the tax breaks for corporations that offshore jobs and profits.”