Greetings Sisters and Brothers,
I write today to provide an important update on the renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and the work of our union.
Unifor is actively participating in the process in the role of advisor to the Canadian NAFTA negotiation team. During the first two rounds of talks in Washington, D.C. and Mexico City I have remained in constant communication with government negotiators on the ground. I was pleased that Renaud Gagne, the Quebec Director was able to join with me for talks in Mexico to help represent Unifor.
During multiple face-to-face meetings with the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Chrystia Freeland, and Steve Verheul, Canada’s lead NAFTA negotiator I have provided Unifor’s prospective on trade and advocated strongly for the inclusion of labour rights
On behalf of Unifor, I have continually stressed that no deal is better than a bad deal and the government should be prepared to walk away if required.
While talks are still in the early stages and it is far too early to predict the ultimate outcome, the fact that our voice is present and being heard is a victory for labour. Our government knows that we will not stand quietly by should it decide to sign a deal that hurts workers.
If NAFTA is going to be renegotiated it is important that any new trade deal address the gross inequalities that have resulted for Mexican workers. As a socially progressive union, our union has a responsibility to raise standards for all workers. The stark reality is that it is simply impossible to have fair trade, or compete on an even playing field, with a country that pays its workers poverty wages.
Conditions in Mexico must change to lift up workers and ensure that fair trade works for all of us. It is the only way to keep good paying manufacturing jobs here in Canada.
Our work as a union will ramp up over the next few weeks as we prepare for the third round of talks in Ottawa and a lobby week that will happen this October. To keep you up to date on this important issue I am sending a few important news clips of media coverage that Unifor received:
In the coming days more information on planned actions will be circulated. I hope that I can count on your support as we fight for a truly historic deal for all North American workers. To learn more please visit our campaign webpage at unifor.org/NAFTA.