May 9th, 2017

Ohio Senator Sherrod Brown has a plan for fixing the North American Free Trade Agreement. He writes:

I have spent my entire career fighting for a trade policy that puts Ohio workers first. Two days after last November’s election, I called the president-elect’s transition team and offered to work with them to make good on his campaign promise to renegotiate NAFTA.

Over the past few weeks, I’ve held roundtables with workers across Ohio to get their input and hear what they believe that should look like. Last Monday, I sent a letter to President Trump outlining a strategy for renegotiating NAFTA, to secure the best deal for Ohio workers. The plan has four key parts, including new strategies that the U.S. hasn’t used in past trade deal negotiations.

First, we need secure up front commitments from Mexico and Canada on anti-outsourcing provisions and Buy America protections before even beginning negotiations.

We know what causes outsourcing: low wages, exploited workers, and weak, or non-existent, environmental protections in other countries. That’s why we need commitments from our trading partners to secure strict worker protections before we even sit down at the negotiating table.

Next, we can’t pit American workers and industries against each other. The administration should develop individualized negotiating strategies for manufacturing sectors that have been hurt by outsourcing.

American workers shouldn’t be horse-traded simply for the sake of cutting a deal.

Of course, even good trade deals mean nothing if they aren’t enforced. Any new deal must also include more meaningful enforcement tools for American workers, and do away with special courts that allow multi-national corporations to undermine U.S. laws and take advantage of American workers.

Finally, we need to include workers in the negotiations. Time after time, we’ve seen corporate lobbyists writing trade deals behind closed doors, while American workers are locked out. That’s how we end up with trade agreement after trade agreement that sells out workers.

American jobs shouldn’t be up for negotiation, and American workers can’t be traded away as bargaining chips. By setting high standards, putting workers ahead of corporations, and refusing to compromise on outsourcing, we can create the best possible deal for all American workers.


Good luck with that senator. There is a bigger problem here, pointed out to me this morning by Cleveland’s treasure Roldo Bartimole quoting Cleveland Mayor Tom Johnson. Elizabeth J. Hauser, editor of Johnson’s biography My Story, wrote in the books final chapter:

One night John Paul said a suggestive thing. It was a sort of a fable, a dream—I don’t know what he called it; but it had been ringing in my ears every since and I am going to try to tell if to you. John Paul said there was a certain river and that many human beings were in it, struggling to get to the shore. Some succeeded, some were pulled ashore by kind-hearted people on the banks. But many were carried down the stream and drowned. It is no doubt a wise thing, it is noble that under those conditions charitable people devote themselves to helping the victims out of the water. But John Paul said it would be better if some of those kindly people on the shore engaged in rescue work, would go up the stream and find out who was pushing the people into it. I could not help but follow that thought. We single taxers, while ready to help pull the struggling ones out, feel something urging us up the river to see who is pushing the people into the river to drown.

“It is in this way that I would answer those who ask us to help the poor. Let us help them, that they may at the last fight the battle of Privilege with more strength and courage; but let us never lose sight of our mission up the river to see who is pushing the people in.

Some of us need to head up river now.

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