WASHINGTON, Feb. 2 – Sens. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Edward Markey (D-Mass.), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) and Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii) sent a letter Friday urging President Donald Trump to fundamentally rewrite the North American Free Trade Agreement and level the playing field by adding strong labor and environmental provisions. The letter calls on Trump to stop the rampant outsourcing of American jobs, protect our air and water, reduce prescription drug prices, support climate action and lift living standards in the United States, Mexico and Canada.
In his State of the Union address Tuesday, Trump declared, “From now on, we expect trading relationships to be fair and to be reciprocal. We will work to fix bad trade deals and negotiate new ones.”
“The status quo of NAFTA helping corporations outsource more middle class jobs to Mexico every week and attack public health and environmental safeguards in secretive tribunals is not acceptable,” the senators wrote to Trump. “However, unless you are able to succeed in negotiating a new deal that meets the criteria enumerated below, companies will continue to move U.S. jobs to Mexico to pay workers poverty wages and dump toxins and then import those products back for sale here in the United States.”
The senators urged Trump to follow through on his commitment in the State of the Union by making a number of critical changes to the agreement:
- Add strong labor and environmental standards with swift and certain enforcement to raise standards and wages in North America and stop corporations from outsourcing U.S. jobs to Mexico to take advantage of abusive labor laws, poverty wages and lax environmental rules.
- Eliminate NAFTA terms that promote the outsourcing of American jobs such as the Investor State Dispute Settlement system.
- Protect our public health, the environment and ensure a level playing field for U.S. businesses, farmers and workers by requiring that all imported food, goods and services meet U.S. standards.
- Make medicine more affordable by eliminating NAFTA rules that increase costs.
- Ensure a fair playing field for American job creation by adding strong, enforceable disciplines against currency manipulation and misalignment.
- Create American jobs and reinforce improved labor and environmental standards by strengthening “rules of origin” and stopping transshipment.
- Boost the rural economy by overhauling NAFTA rules that harm family farmers.
- Support communities of color which have been among the hardest hit by NAFTA.
The Senators also urged the president to make the negotiations more transparent in order to protect middle class workers over corporate lobbyists. “With 500 official corporate advisors provided access to draft texts and the public locked out of the process, corporate lobbyists that oppose the needed changes to NAFTA are positioned to shape a deal that serves their special interests to the detriment of the middle class,” they warned.
The letter, supported by both leading labor unions and environmental organizations, comes day after the latest round of talks to renegotiate the trade pact ended in Montreal.
The AFL-CIO, Sierra Club, Public Citizen, 350, Communication Workers of America, and the International Association of Machinists & Aerospace Workers all support the principles outlined in the letter.
To read the letter, click here.