Pascrell Secures Commitment from U.S. Trade Representative to Combat Labor Rights Violations and Fight Climate Change
During hearing on Biden trade agenda, Pascrell emphasizes anti-labor measures in Mexico and the need to fight climate change
U.S. Rep. Bill Pascrell, Jr. (D-NJ-09), New Jersey’s only member of the powerful House Ways and Means Committee, today secured commitments from United States Trade Representative Katherine Tai to raise two labor rights violations and need to improve the collective bargaining legitimation protocols with her Mexican counterparts at the upcoming USMCA Free Trade Commission meeting. This is the first time the Ambassador has publicly confirmed a willingness to raise the first rapid response labor case, which was filed against Tridonex because of the problematic conditions workers faced and the threats posed against SNITIS leader Susana Prieto Terrazas. Ambassador Tai also agreed the meeting would be “a great opportunity” to raise amending the list of multilateral environmental agreements covered by the renegotiated North American Free Trade Agreement to include the Paris Agreement as a means to combat climate change.
As a longtime former member on the Ways and Means Subcommittee on Trade, Rep. Pascrell was heavily involved in negotiations of the new NAFTA and repeatedly raised the importance of combatting anti-labor measures in Mexico. He praised two rapid response complaints filed this week against labor suppression efforts in Mexico, the latest of which coming just one day after Pascrell called on General Motors to address reports of labor violations at their plant in Mexico.
Rep. Pascrell was the first member of Congress to raise the case of Susana Prieto Terrazas to then-U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer during a House Ways and Means Committee hearing on the 2020 U.S. trade agenda. 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. 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.
Rep. Pascrell – Remarks as prepared
Ambassador Tai, welcome back to the Ways and Means Committee. I am proud of you. You are missed here.
It is no secret to you that my focus continues to be the new NAFTA.
This deal was supposed to break government-connected protection unions and their crooked corporate connections. Yet there have been over 830 votes and only two protection unions have been overturned. Two! That is less than one-half of one percent.
And there are continued reports of intimidation, harassment, and retaliation against workers lawfully seeking independent union representation in Mexico.
Thank you for following our lead to denounce the loathsome labor rights violations at a General Motors plant in Silao, Mexico. And the labor community’s case against Tridonex on Monday ratchets up the pressure.
The last administration couldn’t be bothered to do the bare minimum for workers. You were influential in dragging them kicking and screaming to support real enforcement. So, I believe workers are in good hands with you at the helm at USTR. If you can’t secure a victory for workers, I’m not sure who could.
In your upcoming meeting with your Canadian and Mexican counterparts, will you commit to raising these two labor cases?
Will you push your Mexican counterparts to improve the legitimation protocols as outlined in the December Independent Mexico Labor Expert Board report?
I believe strongly that our trade policies must address the threat of climate change. On January 19, 122 House members joined me in calling on the Biden administration to work with Canada and Mexico to include the Paris Agreement in the renegotiated NAFTA.
In your upcoming meeting with Canada and Mexico, will you raise the prospect of amending the list of multilateral environmental agreements covered by the renegotiated NAFTA to include the Paris Agreement?