IUE-CWA Pres. Carl Kennebrew: Loopholes would allow companies to take jobs abroad

As a manufacturing worker of more than 20 years, I can speak firsthand to the devastation that the North American Free Trade Agreement has caused to our workforce. So can the 150,000 active and retired members of my union, IUE-CWA. Time after time, NAFTA has allowed our major employers to shift good jobs out of this country.

Since NAFTA’s enactment in the mid-1990s, workers in Ohio and across the industrial Midwest have lost hundreds of thousands of manufacturing jobs and millions more workers have seen their wages and benefits decline. Big companies have used corporate-friendly trade policies and the threat of shipping more jobs to Mexico to depress wages and benefits, hurting working families in our state. I’ve watched firsthand as manufacturing plants, like Delphi-owned Harrison Radiator and the General Motors Truck Plant in Dayton, have shut their doors due to outsourcing, leaving thousands out of work.

Aptiv PLC (formerly Delphi) for example, also has moved thousands of jobs to Mexico over the years. Other major employers like General Electric and Whirlpool have moved thousands more.

Because of NAFTA, these multinational corporations can easily move American jobs to Mexico, where workers have been exploited, unable to form democratic unions and make $2 an hour or less, and work without any rights or health and safety provisions.

Hardworking families on both sides of the border know we need a new deal to replace NAFTA, yet President Trump’s NAFTA replacement deal, the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement, or USMCA, is not acceptable for Ohio workers. USMCA, which is currently under negotiation with Congress, is a missed opportunity and one that relies on too many elements of the failed model of corporate-friendly trade policies that have harmed working families in recent decades.

The overriding goal of our failed model of trade policy is to make it easier for companies to move jobs and productions anywhere in the world. Whenever you hear talk of removing “trade barriers,” that’s usually shorthand for the range of legal and regulatory policies that allow big companies to exploit and underpay workers, avoid taxes and not have to abide by real labor or environmental standards.

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