CLEVELAND, OH — Today, U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH) hosted a virtual roundtable with Ambassador Katherine Tai, 19th United States Trade Representative, and Ohio workers, farmers, and manufacturers to discuss the impact of trade policy on Ohio communities. During a Senate Committee on Finance hearing in May, Ambassador Tai committed to Brown that she would visit Ohio to meet with local workers and hear how unfair trade policies have impacted their lives. Brown, a member of the Senate Finance Committee, a leader on trade policy and a vocal champion of American workers, was a strong supporter of Ambassador Tai’s nomination.
“There’s a lot of work to do to regain Ohioans’ trust on trade. It’s so important to hear directly from Ohioans about what a worker-centered trade policy looks like to them, and it speaks to Ambassador Tai’s commitment to the Dignity of Work that she’s doing this today,” said Brown at the roundtable. “The only way to stop the corporate business model that shuts down production in Ohio and moves it overseas is by raising labor standards in every country we trade with, and making sure those standards are actually enforced. I look forward to continuing to work with Ambassador Tai to do that.”
“Your voice, your values and your perspective are critical to helping us craft a more inclusive, worker-centric trade policy,” said Ambassador Tai. “In all of our meetings and policy discussions, we are asking one simple question – how does this help workers? And how do we help communities who have seen factories close, seen the loss of their tax base, as jobs have moved overseas? We are committed to pursuing policies that help to lift wages, promote worker empowerment, and generate economic security for workers.”
In May, Ambassador Tai implemented the first ever self-initiated labor enforcement case under the Brown-Wyden RRM in the USMCA. During a Finance Committee hearing, Brown asked Ambassador Tai what the use of the Brown-Wyden provision in the USMCA means for workers.
Brown and Tai worked together to negotiate an important worker-empowering provision – the Brown-Wyden Rapid Response Mechanism (RRM) – as part of the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) that Brown helped secure. For the first time, this labor enforcement tool empowers workers to bring cases alleging labor violations at the facility level. The new agreement allows workers in Mexico to report when a company is violating their rights, and see action within months if it’s determined that workers’ rights have been violated. It would also apply punitive damages when corporations stop workers from organizing and stop goods from coming into the U.S. if these anti-worker tactics continue.
In May, AFL-CIO, the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), the Sindicato Nacional Independiente de Trabajadores de Industrias y de Servicios MOVIMIENTO 20/32 (SNITIS), and Public Citizen filed a separate complaint under the Brown-Wyden RRM against Tridonex, an auto parts factory located in Matamoros in the state of Tamaulipas, Mexico.
Together, these two enforcement cases – the one initiated by AFL-CIO and the one self-initiated by USTR – show that the Brown-Wyden labor enforcement tool is working.