Senators tout stronger enforcement of worker standards
WASHINGTON (KTVZ) -- Sens. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., and Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, announced Friday their support for the renegotiated North American Free Trade Agreement, saying it reflects groundbreaking changes achieved by Democrats after months of negotiations with the administration.
Wyden is ranking member of the Senate Finance Committee, while Brown sits on the Finance Committee and is ranking member of the Senate Banking Committee.
“I have long said NAFTA was in desperate need of an update to ensure Canada and Mexico live up to their side of the deal,” Wyden said. “The agreement Speaker Pelosi secured does exactly that. The many improvements include a new rapid-response mechanism for labor enforcement that Senator Brown and I advocated for that establishes the strongest enforcement of labor standards ever written into a U.S. trade agreement.
"By ensuring that Mexican workers’ rights are protected, we prevent a race to the bottom and level the playing field for workers in Oregon, Ohio and across the country,” Wyden added.
Brown added, “One of my proudest votes was against NAFTA, because I knew it would encourage multinational corporations to close factories in Ohio and offshore jobs to Mexico. The agreement President Trump negotiated wasn’t much better, and I have spent more than a year working to make it more pro-worker. We fought tooth and nail against the Administration, and with the support of Speaker Pelosi, Senator Wyden, and the union movement, we secured significant improvements for workers that President Trump’s initial agreement left out, namely stronger enforcement.
"The Brown-Wyden anti-offshoring provision is a worker-empowering, corporation-scaring enforcement innovation that amounts to the strongest-ever labor enforcement in a U.S. trade deal, and that’s why this will be the first trade agreement I’ve ever voted for.
"I’m always going to be straight with American workers – this is an important step toward a pro-worker trade policy, but it’s not a perfect agreement. We have a lot more work to do to make hard work pay off, and one trade agreement alone will not fix President Trump’s economic policies that put corporations over workers. We must build on the successes we achieved here and make sure Brown-Wyden is in every trade agreement going forward to protect American jobs,”Brown added.
Wyden and Brown announced their support following labor groups’ widespread praise for their role in strengthening enforcement of labor rights in the agreement.
AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka thanked Wyden and Brown “for standing strong with us throughout this process as we demanded a truly enforceable agreement.”
United Steelworkers (USW) Union President Tim Conway praised the deal: “[t]he updated draft agreement now has enforcement provisions [for workers’ rights] that can help make a difference. There is still a great deal of work to do in terms of implementing, monitoring and enforcing the provisions, but the base for progress is there.”
USW also recognized Brown and Wyden for their “efforts and refusal to back down in the face of massive special interest lobbying,” alongside other Democratic congressional leaders in negotiating updates to NAFTA.
United Autoworkers acknowledged Wyden and Brown’s “tireless work” alongside their Democratic colleagues “who fought to strengthen its labor standards and enforcement provisions.”
The Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers (BCTGM) also praised the work of Brown and Wyden, along with House Democratic leaders, as “champions for American workers” who “stood strong throughout this long process.”
The Communications Workers of America (CWA) commended Wyden and Brown on their “persistence” and “leadership” which ensured “new provisions [in the agreement that] allow for inspections of workplaces suspected of worker rights violations.”