Pelosi on new NAFTA: “No enforcement, no treaty”
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi | Andrew Harnik/AP

WASHINGTON—House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., has dealt a big blow to GOP President Donald Trump’s hopes of quickly pushing his “new NAFTA” through Congress.

In an April 2 interview with Politico, Pelosi identified the same huge problem with the “new NAFTA,” formally called the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement, that organized labor has: Weak labor laws, low pay and no enforcement in Mexico. Those attributes lead U.S. corporations to pick up and move there.

Her response: “No enforcement, no treaty.”

Not only that, but Mexico must pass stronger labor laws and staff them, too, she said.

“The concerns that our members have are workers’ rights, the environment and issues related to pharmaceuticals,” Pelosi said. “The overarching concern that we have is – even if you have the best language in the world in that (deal), if you don’t have enforcement, you ain’t got nothin’. … You have to have strong enforcement provisions.”

Pelosi took that stand one day after AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka made the same point in a telephone press conference. While the USMCA includes workers’ rights in its text, the provisions are weak, since they’re based on weak International Labour Organization standards, he said.

By contrast, the current NAFTA (North American Free Trade Agreement), which then-Democratic President Bill Clinton pushed through a balky Congress more than two decades ago, had workers’ rights in an unenforceable side letter. After NAFTA took effect Mexico and corporations racing there ignored even that.

Workers and their allies, led by the AFL-CIO, campaigned hard against NAFTA then, warning it would cause a mass exodus of U.S. jobs. Those warnings were correct. They’re planning a similar drive against the USMCA, unless Trump rewrites the implementing legislation to protect workers, not corporations.

That’s where Pelosi’s clout comes in. Congress must pass the implementing legislation by simple majorities in both houses – and it can’t change what Trump sends up. But it can sit on it, and that’s what Pelosi promised.


CONTRIBUTOR

Mark Gruenberg
Mark Gruenberg

Mark Gruenberg is head of the Washington, D.C., bureau of People's World. He is also the editor of Press Associates Inc. (PAI), a union news service in Washington, D.C. that he has headed since 1999. Previously, he worked as Washington correspondent for the Ottaway News Service, as Port Jervis bureau chief for the Middletown, NY Times Herald Record, and as a researcher and writer for Congressional Quarterly. Mark obtained his BA in public policy from the University of Chicago and worked as the University of Chicago correspondent for the Chicago Daily News.

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