So We Know NAFTA was Bad. How Bad?
For UAW members, it’s something they just know. NAFTA bled UAW jobs. But as the “New NAFTA” (called the USMCA) makes its way to the Senate for debate, how bad was the old NAFTA? Well… pretty bad.
Since NAFTA passed in 1994, the Mexican auto workforce grew seven-fold from 112,000 to 767,000—all but seven percent in parts. In 1994, the U.S. accounted for 82.5 percent of the workforce and by 2016, that number had dwindled to 51.3 percent.
The UAW wants NAFTA renegotiated. But, it’s a very complicated issue. “We also want enforcement of labor provisions and a level playing field,” said UAW President Gary Jones. “That only happens when we hold feet to the fire and judge the ‘New NAFTA’ by how it protects and adds U.S. jobs.”
In 1993, Mexico produced just over 1 million vehicles. Today, Mexico produces more than 4 million vehicles.
Why? Mexican wages for auto assembly today are at $6.63 and for auto parts, Mexican wages are $3.98 an hour.
“Renegotiating NAFTA is important,” said Jones. “But making sure there are enforcement provisions in the ‘New NAFTA’ is more important. UAW members should not have to compete with government-controlled Mexican unions and ages that pay pennies on the dollar because of a poorly crafted trade agreement. Enforcement language in the trade agreement is the only way that the ‘New NAFTA’ restores what the old NAFTA took away.”
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