Slaughter Calls on Trump Administration to End Outsourcing as NAFTA Negotiations Continue
ROCHESTER, NY — Congresswoman Louise M. Slaughter (NY-25) this week signed a letter with 183 Members of Congress to the United States Trade Representative (USTR) Robert Lighthizer expressing concern with the ongoing renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). Specifically, the Members of Congress told Lighthizer to end the outsourcing of good-paying American jobs by negotiating for strong labor standards that end wage suppression and support increased labor rights. Rochester has lost half of its manufacturing jobs since this trade deal went into effect, accelerating the pace of globalization in Monroe County and across the country. Slaughter voted against NAFTA and every free trade agreement during her time in Congress, pushing for trade deals that are actually fair to American workers and manufactures.
“The suppression of wages and lack of labor rights continue to result in the outsourcing of U.S. manufacturing jobs and low wage growth,” Slaughter wrote, along with her colleagues. “Low wages, a lack of independent unions and an inability for workers to collectively bargain in Mexico have hurt American workers and led to the outsourcing of jobs to Mexico. Increasing labor rights in Mexico will help workers there climb out of poverty, and also protect American jobs and wages from a race to the bottom.”
“Any new NAFTA must have strong, clear and binding provisions that address Mexico’s labor conditions,” they continued. “Given the ingrained resistance to labor rights in Mexico, we must demand real and identifiable progress on labor reforms take place before Congress votes on a renegotiated NAFTA.”
Earlier this year, Slaughter urged the administration to completely overhaul this failed trade agreement, crafting a bipartisan deal that includes enforceable labor and environmental provisions, protects Buy American policies, strengthens rules of origin requirements, and rejects the misguided investor-state dispute settlement procedure (ISDS). ISDS would allow multinational corporations to challenge U.S. laws they don’t like outside of the standard judicial system, which could leave laws on everything from stringent drinking water standards to raising a state’s minimum wage in the hands of unelected and unaccountable arbitrators.
Slaughter has long been considered a leader on fair trade issues and has worked to rebuild America’s manufacturing base. She has introduced the Trade Enforcement and Trade Deficit Reduction Act to change how we approach international trade and give American workers and manufacturers the tools they need to compete on a level playing field around the globe. The bill would direct the Department of Commerce to withdraw or “snapback” trade concessions like tariff reductions if a trade partner does not live up to its obligations under a free trade agreement or if it adds new tariff or non-tariff trade barriers. It also addresses one of the major missed opportunities for American workers – our skyrocketing trade deficits.
Slaughter has also worked tirelessly to help Rochester manufacturers while defending them from unfair competition overseas. She led a bipartisan effort with members of the New York congressional delegation in opposition to the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a 12-country megadeal modeled after the job-killing NAFTA. The trade agreement, formally rejected by the president last year, would have given foreign companies increased access to the lucrative American market, forcing U.S. workers to compete with countries such as Vietnam, where the minimum wage is less than 65 cents an hour and workers’ rights are almost nonexistent.