Canada wins union kudos for pushing better labour standards in NAFTA

Pushes for higher wages in Mexico and an end to tactics aimed at starving unions of cash.

OTTAWA — The Canadian government is getting kudos from unions for proposing that both Mexico and the United States commit to improved labour standards in a rewritten North American free trade agreement.

Christopher Monette, public affairs director for Teamsters Canada, says it’s not helpful to focus strictly on Mexico, where low wages have resulted in an exodus of manufacturing jobs from Canada and the U.S.

He says there’s also been an exodus of Canadian jobs to American states that have right to work laws which assert a worker’s right to refuse to join a union or pay dues while still receiving the same benefits of unionization as dues-paying workers.

Canada is pushing for an end to such laws, in effect in 28 states, and which labour representatives maintain are a union-busting tactic aimed at starving them of cash.

Unifor president Jerry Dias, who has been working closely with the Canadian negotiating team, says the government is holding “very, very strong” on its proposal for improved labour standards by both its NAFTA partners.

Dias says the Americans have so far shown no interest in bettering their own labour standards or in providing details of demands in a host of other contentious areas — leading him to believe that President Donald Trump has no intention of trying to reach a deal by the end of the year.

News from © Canadian Press Enterprises Inc. 2016

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