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Unifor brings Canadian worker’s perspective to U.S. Commerce Secretary

May 18, 2017

Toronto - Unifor National President Jerry Dias held a private meeting with U.S. Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross in Washington today, relaying the views of union members as bilateral trade tensions continue to escalate.

“Canada and the United States are not enemies on trade,” Dias said to Ross in their face-to-face meeting. “Both countries have faced significant job and investment declines, particularly in manufacturing over the years, almost in equal measure. Canada is not the cause of America’s economic woes.”

Dias raised a series of bilateral trade concerns affecting Canadian workers, including the imposition of duties on softwood lumber exports, the impact tariffs will have on jobs and the need for both governments to settle on a fair trade pact, as well as the impending renegotiation of NAFTA. On the auto sector, Dias identified rising levels of vehicle imports from non-NAFTA regions (representing nearly one-quarter of the North American market) as a more pressing concern to jobs than trade imbalances within the region – signalling that a more cooperative, continental approach could assist in re-balance trade flows and job creation.

“Our union has not been a fan of NAFTA, from the start. The agreement has given a lot to global corporations, at the expense of workers’ rights and economic security,” said Dias. “Unifor sees the renegotiation of NAFTA as an opportunity to fix these imbalances, but we will not tolerate any forced deterioration in jobs and work standards.”

For more information, please contact Unifor Communications Director Denise Hammond at denise.hammond@unifor.org or (cell) 416-707-5794.