Jan 9, 2014
In 1993, the United States, Mexico and Canada signed the North American Free Trade Agreement. Two decades later, working Americans have only seen a string of broken promises.
Arguing for NAFTA, President Clinton ensured the American people that NAFTA would "create 200,000 jobs in this country by 1995 alone." But, the U.S. actually saw some 700,000 jobs move to Mexico.
Clinton also said NAFTA would be the first agreement that had "any teeth in what another country had to do with its own workers and its own labor standards." But U.S. employer threats made during organizing campaigns to close plants if workers voted for a union rose from 29 percent in the mid-1980s to 50 percent in the two years following the adoption of NAFTA to 57 percent during the mid-2000s. Today, employers are more likely to use coercive tactics in their anti-union campaigns than they were before the adoption of NAFTA in 1993.
Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International and the State Department have all documented worsening conditions and eroded standards for workers both in the U.S. and Mexico. In our own country, we still have hundreds of thousands of children working on American farms. Migrant workers have few protections and families struggle with weak or non-existent laws on paid leave.
Meanwhile U.S. wages aren't getting better. They're actually getting worse. As corporations rushed to take advantage of Mexico's low wages, Americans have witnessed downward pressure on their wages at home.
In 1993, the United States had a $1.66 billion trade surplus in goods with Mexico. Yet by 1995, just one year after the implementation of NAFTA, the country had a $15.8 billion deficit. In 2012, the deficit had grown to $62 billion.
Be sure to check out the rest of CWA's Broken Promises report here (pdf). It outlines what happened over the last 20 years and what it means for future trade deals like the Trans-Pacific Partnership.
Public Citizen also has a fantastic report on how NAFTA has contributed to job losses, record income inequality and scores of corporate attacks on environmental and health laws. Check it out here.