AFL-CIO’s Trumka on USMCA: ‘As It Stands Today, It’s Unenforceable and Therefore We Couldn’t Support It’

During an appearance on this weekend’s broadcast of “Fox News Sunday,” AFL-CIO head Richard Trumka explained why his organization is in opposition to the new United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA), which he argued was comprised of unenforceable components regarding Mexico.

Partial transcript as follows:

WALLACE: All right, let’s start with the new trade deal with — between the U.S. and Mexico and Canada that the president hopes to get through Congress this fall.

Here he is on Friday.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The USMCA has become very popular. That’s our deal with Mexico and with Canada. Unions are liking it. Farmers are loving it. Manufacturers are really liking it.


WALLACE: Unions are liking it, the president says.

As it stands today, do you support the USMCA?

TRUMKA: As it stands today, it’s unenforceable and therefore we couldn’t support it. We want to get to yes. We’ve been working with the — trade rep Lighthizer to try to get there and hopefully we will.

WALLACE: What’s unenforceable about it?

TRUMKA: Well —

WALLACE: Supposedly that was one of the big issues they — they were going to solve with this.

TRUMKA: It’s unenforceable on three levels. First of all, Mexico has always used a model — an — they’ve kept wages artificially low by using a thing called a protectionist contract. That’s where a sham union comes in, negotiates a deal with a company, keeps wages low. Nabisco Mondelez —

WALLACE: All right, you’re — you’re getting into the weeds here a little bit, but —


WALLACE: So basically —

TRUMKA: So — so if — if Mexico can’t enforce their own agreement, their own laws, then this agreement will never work because their wages will be artificially low and they will suck jobs and capital out of the United States.

WALLACE: But let’s look at some of the features of the deal, and I want to put them up.

According to the —

TRUMKA: There are — there are two other levels, by the way.

WALLACE: OK, but I — but I — we — we’ve only got limited time here, sir.

Let’s look at some features of the deal.

According to the International Trade Commission, this deal, USMCA, will create 176,000 new jobs in the U.S. And the Trump administration says labor provisions, quote, have been incorporated into the core text of the agreement.

You are meeting this coming week with Mexican President Lopez Obrador. If you don’t get what you want from them on these various issues, are you really going to block this deal?

TRUMKA: We won’t have any choice because it’s unenforceable. And an unenforceable trade agreement is a windfall for corporations and a disaster for workers. This isn’t enforceable. If they can’t enforce their laws, it doesn’t work.

This agreement allows either party to stop the appointment of an arbitrator. So you and I have a dispute —


TRUMKA: We can’t come to an agreement. We need an arbitrator. Either party can stop that from happening under this agreement. And the third thing is, dispute resolution has taken eight to ten years. This is not going to speed it up. And in the meantime, the product that’s produced in violation of the agreement continues to come into the country. We think it ought to be stopped at the border. So those are the three levels of enforcement.

Follow Jeff Poor on Twitter @jeff_poor


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