Representative Sander Levin (D-MI) today issued the following statement regarding the announcement of an agreement between the United States and Mexico on a renegotiated North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).
"Meeting just now with a group of workers in Mexico who were fired from their jobs in a tire factory after they went on strike to protest wages of less than $2 an hour made it crystal clear how far Mexico still has to go to ensure real labor rights. These workers are trapped in contracts that they never voted on or had any involvement in - signed before there were even any workers on the job. Now they are facing unemployment, blacklisting, harassment and threats for attempting to demand their rights. If a rewrite of NAFTA fails to forcefully and directly address this issue, the result will just be more downward pressure on American workers' wages and outsourcing of U.S. jobs to very low-wage Mexico.
"Foreign companies have come to Mexico and exploited workers in combination with Mexican authorities to export products to the U.S. - products that these workers could never afford themselves. This exploitation negatively affects the jobs and wages of workers in the U.S.
"After today's announcement that the U.S. and Mexico have come to an agreement on a revised NAFTA, it remains highly unclear whether there will be assured, substantial change in the status quo on this key issue. Unfortunately, Members of Congress have not seen the reported agreement, despite statutory requirements for full consultation. But reports to date leave major questions about the specific rights of workers to overturn the thousands of unfair "protection' contracts now in place in Mexico, as well as the mechanisms to effectively enforce these rights.
"I strongly urge the Administration to stay at the bargaining table as long as it takes to ensure a good deal for America's workers, and to consult with Congress as required by law."
Representative Levin is in Mexico this week to discuss labor rights with workers, businesses, researchers and government officials. His trip will start in San Luis Potosí, a growing industrial hub for a number of automotive-related products and then continue to Mexico City, where Levin will attend swearing-in events for the newly elected Mexican Senate and meet with Mexican officials.