Speech | Trade

Trumka Calls for Action and Leadership on NAFTA

AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka delivered the following remarks during a press call on the future of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA):

Good morning.

I want to thank my friend and brother United Steelworkers President Leo Gerard for his incredible leadership on trade.

And I want to thank all of you for joining us.

Later today, the AFL-CIO will be submitting our formal recommendations on how best to renegotiate NAFTA.

Each of you have received a copy of our proposals.

They are bold. They are detailed. And they are necessary.

So instead of reiterating the policy, I’d like to spend a few minutes on the politics.

For decades now, America’s trade deals have been a bipartisan disaster.

Corporate-written trade has killed jobs, held down wages and devastated communities.

And no agreement has done more damage than NAFTA.

As a candidate, Donald Trump talked a good game on trade.

As president, he has been all over the map.

One week it’s the worst trade agreement in history. The next week it just needs minor tweaks.

The American people are tired of it. I’m tired of it.

Talk is cheap. It is time for this administration to rewrite NAFTA the right way.

That takes real leadership.

It’s one thing to walk away from a deal—like President Trump did with Paris or withdraw from an agreement that’s already dead—like he did with TPP.

It’s entirely another to improve a deal that has existed for over two decades and has the support of the Washington and Wall Street establishment.

That is the challenge facing this president.

And the people who voted for Donald Trump in Wisconsin and Michigan and my home state of Pennsylvania are counting on him to do the right thing.

If President Trump follows our recommendations—if he renegotiates NAFTA so it’s a real force for higher wages and broadly shared prosperity—we will help him pass it.

If President Trump uses renegotiation to further rig the rules for the wealthiest few, we will fight him with everything we have.

And if President Trump breaks his promise and leaves the worst pieces of NAFTA in place, we will never forget it.

Thank you very much.

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