Representative Sandy Levin (D-MI) issued the following statement regarding the planned signing of the renegotiated North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA):
"The fatal flaw of the original NAFTA signed 25 years ago -- the lack of assured and real labor reform in Mexico -- remains the major weakness of the new NAFTA, or USMCA, being signed tomorrow. The agreement fails to forcefully and directly address, in language and in practice, this fundamental issue. Failing that, it will only lock in the status quo of massive outsourcing to Mexico for decades to come and its consequences.
"Under NAFTA, Mexico sought to attract foreign capital by keeping workers' wages at rock bottom levels through the denial of basic labor rights. Mexico now has close to the lowest worker pay in the entire industrial world -- lower than even China. This not only denied Mexican workers a path to the middle class, but also suppressed wages and took jobs from U.S. workers, especially in auto manufacturing and parts.
"The election of new leadership in Mexico provides that, after 25 years of a trade agreement built on the lowest economic common denominator, there is hope that there will be real change. But hope must become reality in the daily lives of workers. The initial breakthrough of the May 10th provision on labor standards must lead to a dramatic change in the status quo.
"Mexico's industrial policy of suppressed wages must be dismantled. This means direct steps to end Mexico's thousands of so-called protection contracts, signed without the support or even the knowledge of workers, as well as other key reforms must take place before the U.S. Congress votes on any new NAFTA. And there must be strong assurances of continued, vigorous enforcement. Indirect efforts, such as new rules of origin, will simply not get the job done.