WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) hosted a news conference call after he improved President Trump’s proposed NAFTA update and secured important, worker-empowering provisions. Brown, acknowledging this is not a perfect deal, announced his support for the trade agreement on Friday after he worked with Sen. Wyden, Speaker Pelosi and the labor movement to get a better deal for American workers.
“It took us months of fighting alongside Speaker Pelosi, Senator Wyden, and unions to improve this deal, and secure our Brown-Wyden provision that amounts to the strongest-ever labor enforcement in a U.S. trade deal,” said Brown. “When we lift up workers in Mexico, we lift up American workers – if corporations are forced to pay workers a living wage and treat them with dignity, no matter where those workers are located, then we take away the incentive for them to move jobs abroad. That’s what the Brown-Wyden provision does.”
“This deal isn’t going to stop outsourcing, when we have President Trump’s tax plan that gives companies a tax break to send American jobs to Mexico,” Brown continued. “I’m going to keep fighting President Trump’s corporate trade policies and tax policies, just like we did with this agreement. Democrats set an important precedent here – we have to make sure our Brown-Wyden worker protection provision is in every trade agreement going forward.”
The Brown-Wyden Provisions that Brown helped secure will benefit workers by including the first-ever overhaul of labor enforcement standards in a trade agreement since the U.S. started negotiating trade deals. The new agreement will allow workers in Mexico to report when a company is violating their rights and seeing action within months if it’s determined that workers’ rights have been violated and apply punitive damages when corporations stop workers from organizing and stopping goods from coming into the U.S. if these anti-worker tactics continue.
Brown was joined on the call today by Ohio AFL-CIO President Tim Burga to talk about the importance of Brown-Wyden provisions in the USMCA to Ohio workers and families.
“Thanks to Senator Brown, someone who has spent his congressional career understanding how international trade works and speaking up and fighting to include workers’ rights, we now have a trade deal in USMCA that we can support. We were only able to get this deal across the finish line and get to yes because organized Labor and leaders like Senator Brown said no deal, however good the text may be, unless the labor provisions are clearly written and enforceable,” said Ohio AFL-CIO President Tim Burga.
Labor organizations have thanked Sens. Brown and Wyden for their efforts to secure these labor enforcement provisions in the deal.
AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka thanked Wyden and Brown “for standing strong with us throughout this process as we demanded a truly enforceable agreement.”
United Steelworkers (USW) Union President Tom Conway praised the deal: “[t]he updated draft agreement now has enforcement provisions [for worker’s rights] that can help make a difference. There is still a great deal of work to do in terms of implementing, monitoring and enforcing the provisions, but the base for progress is there.”
USW also recognized Brown and Wyden for their “efforts and refusal to back down in the face of massive special interest lobbying,” alongside other Democratic congressional leaders in negotiating updates to NAFTA.
United Autoworkers acknowledged Wyden and Brown’s “tireless work” alongside their Democratic colleagues “who fought to strengthen its labor standards and enforcement provisions.”
The Bakery, Confectionary, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers (BCTGM) also praised the work of Brown and Wyden, along with House Democratic leaders, as “champions for American workers” who “stood strong throughout this long process.”
The Communications Workers of America (CWA) commended Wyden and Brown on their “persistence” and “leadership” which ensured “new provisions [in the agreement that] allow for inspections of workplaces suspected of worker rights violations.”
Brown led the charge in the House of Representatives against NAFTA, forecasting the harm it would have on American workers and families. This will be the first trade deal that Brown will vote for. Brown will continue pushing for trade and economic policies that value workers over corporations.