Rep. Andy Levin Statement on Signing of USMCA

January 29, 2020
Press Release

Congressman Andy Levin, vice chair of the House Education and Labor Committee, today released the following statement ahead of the signing of the USMCA:

President Donald Trump today will sign the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA), which he touts as a silver bullet to revitalize American manufacturing and the middle class. In reality, the USMCA is a modest rewrite of NAFTA, one of the worst trade deals in U.S. history.

The fundamental problem with NAFTA was that it encouraged American businesses to ship jobs to Mexico, where they could exploit low-wage workers. Under the USMCA, there is no meaningful way for workers in Mexico to improve their working conditions and bargain collectively, and so there is no incentive for American companies to stop outsourcing.

I fear the USMCA will create another race to the bottom.

The first draft of the USMCA offered by the President contained no provisions at all to protect workers. It was only after Democrats fought tooth and nail for their inclusion that any standards made it into the agreement.

I sincerely hope I am proven wrong, but I have carefully studied the USMCA and I believe it does not do enough to help workers in Macomb and Oakland Counties and across the country. Instead, the trade deal incentivizes manufacturers to continue sending jobs to Mexico.

The USMCA will not upset Mexico’s deeply entrenched wage-suppression system for many reasons. Mexico’s administration of labor reforms will be underfunded, short-staffed, hampered by corruption and opposed by entrenched business interests and company unions. USMCA enforcement provisions will not save the day because they are too weak, they leave too much discretion for multiple actors and they are too open for interpretation. The end result will be continuing lack of freedom and power for Mexican workers, and thus artificially low wages. That means middle class jobs will continue to leave this country, and we will continue to feel downward pressure on wages.

Additionally, every trade deal agreed to by the United States must address climate change as a top priority. The USMCA does not even mention climate change, and does nothing to slow the warming of our planet in this pivotal moment.

The President has repeatedly broken his promise to protect workers, and I am filled with concern that this trade deal will further hurt workers. For those reasons, I voted against the USMCA on the House Floor and feel great apprehension as we enter the next U.S. trade regime.