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NAFTA Talks Important For All Workers

NAFTA has been a hot topic in the news ever since Donald Trump was elected President this year. Some see it as just another acronym thrown around politics, but the truth is NAFTA is an intricate part of our economy in Canada and we should be paying attention to what is happening to it.

NAFTA stands for the North American Free Trade Agreement and was created in 1994 as an expanded version of the 1998 Canada-U.S. free trade agreement. Essentially, it removed ‘barriers to the flow of goods and labour between Canada, the United States and Mexico.’

According to the Globe and Mail, Trump has a list of around 100 demands surrounding NAFTA renegotiations including using “Buy American” provisions to bar Canadian or Mexican firms from seeking U.S. government contracts and also opening up more Canadian or Mexican government contracts to U.S. companies.

The President has threatened to pull out of NAFTA if these demands are not met.

Some of the most contentious trade issues regarding Canada are dairy supply management and softwood lumber.

Trudeau told a group of labour members last month that we’re going to land an agreement that union members and all people across the country can be proud of.

“The bottom line is, after years of neglect, organized labour finally has a strong partner in Ottawa, and we will not let you down,” said Trudeau.

Teamsters General President Jim Hoffa and Teamsters Canada President François Laporte released a statement this month in response to the second round of negotiations of NAFTA in Mexico City.

They acknowledged that the Canadian proposals could do more to protect workers rights in North America than any previous trade agreement and that crafting a chapter that protects workers rights is ‘central to the success to the renegotiation.’

“On labour, we agree that the substantive protections should be grounded in the ILO conventions, and that violations should be enforceable by trade sanctions. We also agree that U.S. state ‘right to work’ laws depress wages and thereby arguably constitute an export subsidy to U.S. exporters who move production to those jurisdictions,” they said in their joint statement.

Uncertainty surrounding NAFTA had already had effects on our dollar and the energy sector. It is clear that a fair deal is needed soon to protect workers and all Canadians. We will all be watching as talks return to the United States in October.  


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“I look after a lot of members in a very big plant. For years I had to fight for them by myself with no help at all from any of the Union’s representatives or Officers. This changed completely once Bobby, Bob and Paul were in office. Now I have access to my reps 24 hours a day, 7 days a week!  They’re always there to back me up.” 

- Darrell Lawres – Chief Shop Steward. Saputo, Sperling

"I have been a member of Teamsters Local 464 for 23 years and have seen many of the executives come and go. Some of the previous executives nearly ran the Local into bankruptcy including losing our pension.  Bobby Kornhass, Bob Ryder and Paul Barton brought us back from the brink. Since they took over in 2000, we at Dairyland (Saputo) have had the best contracts I have seen since I have been there."

- Randy Onyschak

"I was employed for many years at a Teamster company that was shut down due to the economy. Because of my age, I was worried about starting over. Bobby, Bob and Paul not only negotiated a much better severance package than was in the contract, but they also went the extra mile and got me on at one of their other companies with an even better contract.They continued to help me even though it wasn't their job to."

- Armando Borean