WASHINGTON, D.C. - The United Steelworkers union (USW) representing workers in various industries throughout North America has issued a statement in conjunction with current North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) renegotiations calling for economic security and enforceable labour rights within a new NAFTA deal.
A joint statement attributed to Leo Gerard, USW International president and Ken Neumann, USW Canadian national director, issued Oct. 12 said, "A renegotiated North American Free Trade Agreement must reverse the erosion of economic security, raise living and working conditions for all and provide broad, effective and enforceable labour rights."
The USW, North America's largest industrial union, includes 850,000 workers in North America employed in many industries that include metals, rubber, chemicals, paper, oil refining and the service and public sectors, the statement indicated.
Members of the USW and Mexico's Los Mineros union were gathered at a tri-national labour summit in Washington, D.C.
The statement said, in part, "We all want a renegotiated agreement if it will raise standards, ensure they are enforced and provide growth and opportunity for workers in all three countries. NAFTA has concentrated income, wealth and power in the hands of wealthy investors and corporations instead of creating good jobs and protecting the environment.
"Rules of origin, investor-state dispute settlement, currency issues and many others need to be addressed in any renegotiated agreement. But without significant improvements in workers' rights provisions, there will be little progress in any updated agreement.
The statement concluded, "It is time for our political leaders to keep the promises that were made and not bow to the special interests