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Unifor and U.S. Commerce Secretary agree on key NAFTA strategy

October 30, 2017

WASHINGTON – Unifor National President Jerry Dias and U.S. Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross have agreed that addressing the core issue of low Mexican wages is the key to breaking the impasse at NAFTA renegotiations.

“There is a clear understanding that Canadian and American workers have both been injured by the siphoning off of manufacturing jobs to Mexico,” said Dias. “We agreed that Canada and the U.S. must work together to pressure Mexico to drive up wages significantly or face joint retaliatory measures.”

Unifor has previously called on both the Mexican government and on international corporations to end the exploitation of Mexican workers and create a level playing field for workers in all three countries. Dias and Ross believe that a united front is needed to raise Mexican living standards and forge a path to a new trade agreement.

Today in Washington D.C., the Commerce Secretary acknowledged the benefits of trade with Canada, telling Dias that the U.S. wants to negotiate a new NAFTA deal.

During the meeting, the third between Dias and Ross, key trade issues were discussed including NAFTA, the auto sector and the unfair imposition of duties on Canadian softwood lumber exports to the U.S.

“We had a frank discussion but were unable to find common ground on the softwood lumber issue,” said Dias. “Given the wide difference in our positions I don’t anticipate a resolution to the dispute anytime soon.”

Unifor continues to maintain that all new trade deal must address the needs of workers and their communities.

For more information visit unifor.org/NAFTA.

Unifor is Canada’s largest union in the private sector, representing 315,000 workers in every major area of the economy. The union advocates for all working people and their rights, fights for equality and social justice in Canada and abroad, and strives to create progressive change for a better future.

For more information, please contact Unifor Communications Representative Kathleen O’Keefe at kathleen.okeefe@unifor.org  or 416-896-3303 (cell).