For more than a quarter century, North America’s working families have raised our voices for a better trade policy. The defenders of corporate-dominated trade rules too often portray trade as an end in itself. But trade is not an end, it is a means. Trade policy must be judged by whether it leads to a just, inclusive and sustainable economy. An economy that works for all, regardless of race, gender or national origin, and that in particular lifts up the most vulnerable. By that measure, the North American Free Trade Agreement, which has driven the outsourcing of so many good jobs, has been a catastrophic failure.
The labor movement has made clear that we need a new deal that makes a real difference in stemming outsourcing and improving workers’ lives. Work on this issue is far from complete.
The labor movement rejects the proposition that we must choose between corporate-dominated trade rules on the one hand and xenophobic economic isolation on the other. Neither is remotely acceptable. It is possible to have trade rules that lift wages and treat all countries fairly.