Agreeing with Pascrell, Lighthizer says Arrest of Mexico Labor Leader is a “Bad Indicator”
Pascrell also highlighted the continued outsourcing of American jobs as area in need of immediate focus
Paterson, NJ, June 17, 2020
Today, U.S. Rep. Bill Pascrell, Jr. (D-NJ-09) pressed U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer during a Ways and Means Committee hearing on the 2020 Trade Agenda on the need for American action after Mexican labor leader Susana Prieto was arrested last week on trumped-up charges. Pascrell also highlighted the need for strong enforcement mechanisms to ensure Mexico honors agreed-upon labor reforms, echoing the many calls Pascrell has made in the past. Pascrell called for specifics on jobs returning to the U.S. from the administration’s trade actions, as the Trump administration has repeatedly cited without providing evidence or data.
“Last week Mexican authorities arrested labor advocate, Susana Prieto on trumped-up charges,” said Rep. Pascrell, New Jersey’s only member of the Ways and Means Committee. “Will the U.S. government join calls for her release?”
Lighthizer agreed with Pascrell’s concerns, calling the arrest a “bad indicator” and assured Pascrell that his team was looking into the situation “very seriously.”
Also on the topic of Mexico, Pascrell said, “under the new NAFTA, Mexico must vet all collective bargaining agreements. Once vetted, the process for overturning contract allows protection unions to exert undue influence. Of the 162 contract legitimation votes, zero resulted in defeat so far. Several votes have been marred by allegations of employer interference and misrepresentation. So what is USTR doing to press the Mexican government for reforms that cannot be manipulated? And will you advocate for workers to be able to initiate the contract verification process or a labor inspector to supervise verifications?”
Rep. Pascrell opposed NAFTA 2.0 due to its lack of enforcement mechanisms, stating that “the big questions on Mexican labor laws, enforcement mechanisms, American wages, and scope of environmental standards, among others, remain unanswered.” He has also led House efforts to end the outsourcing of American jobs with his Bring Jobs Home Act, which would close tax loopholes for companies who ship jobs overseas and provide tax relief for American companies that move jobs to the U.S. from another nation. Pascrell reintroduced the legislation last month along with Reps. Danny Davis (D-IL-07), Linda Sanchez (D-CA-38), Suzan DelBene (D-WA-01), Eric Swalwell (D-CA-15), Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC), Julia Brownley (D-CA-26), Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-NJ-12), Nanette Diaz Barragan (D-CA-44), Barbara Lee (D-CA-13), and Steve Cohen (D-TN-09).