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Teamsters in Canada and the U.S. Stand United During Third Renegotiation of NAFTA

Ottawa, September 25, 2017 – The International Brotherhood of Teamsters, which represents members in the American and Canadian transport and manufacturing sectors, dispatched representatives to Ottawa to voice their workers’ concerns during the third round of NAFTA 2.0 renegotiations.

 

Several issues that are priorities for Teamsters are on the table in the third round of talks, including workers’ rights, dairy market access and highway safety. The Teamsters have also joined the chorus of civil society groups that are calling for the elimination of the controversial dispute settlement mechanism in NAFTA’s investment chapter whereby corporations can sue governments.

 

François Laporte, President of Teamsters Canada, sent a team of Union representatives to Ottawa to discuss several issues. David Froelich, head of the Dairy Division of Teamsters Canada, met with lead Canadian negotiators to discuss supply management in the dairy industry.

 

“We represent many workers in the dairy industry, especially in cheese making and processing,” reminded the President of Teamsters Canada. “We support supply management, particularly since this system is good for jobs and helps ensure food safety for Canadians.  Access to the dairy market was not on the table when NAFTA was first negotiated, and it should not be part of the renegotiation.

 

“Furthermore, issues related to trucking, the apparel and warehousing industries concern our members, and we have to bring them to the attention of Canadian negotiators.”

 

International President James Hoffa from Washington, a member of two advisory committees to the U.S. Trade Representative, emphasized the importance of workers’ rights and strongly advised the U.S. delegation against tabling a labour chapter that fails to level the playing field among the three NAFTA countries.

 

“I have seen the first draft of the U.S. proposal on worker rights and it is inadequate,” Hoffa stated. “The Canadian text, however, goes farther and even addresses American right-to-work laws that depress wages and therefore attract companies in a ‘free trade’ race to the bottom. I urge the U.S. negotiators to work with us and with their Canadian counterparts to craft a labour chapter that will raise standards and wages throughout North America.  Anything less should not be a starting point for these negotiations. It is imperative that a NAFTA replacement get it right when it comes to workers’ rights.”

 

In North America, workers represented by Teamsters are an integral part of the supply chain.  With members in long-haul trucking and freight rail, at ports and warehouses, as well as members in manufacturing and food processing, the Teamsters have a big stake in trade policy reform. In Washington and Ottawa and coast to coast, they will be monitoring the modernization of the flawed and failed NAFTA, and working together to make sure that the new NAFTA works for working families.

 

For original article, click here.

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Testimonial

For 35 years I have been a Teamster and a Dairyworker, I was a young kid needing a job in tough economic times. I found a place to work and make a living, I learned to work together with others having varying and different backgrounds than my own.

Much has changed for me personally and professionally, I got married to my beautiful wife of almost 25 years and we have raised two amazing children, both of whom are presently studying abroad. Both of my children were recipients of Hoffa Memorial Scholarship Funding.

So much of my success I can credit to having a well paying union job. The Teamsters have been a great union for me, negotiating strong collective agreements that held good wage and benefit packages as well as the cornerstone beliefs of seniority and workers’ rights. The Teamsters gave me a good wage and a voice.

I have always been an active Teamster, and now I sit on Local 464's Executive Board.

There can be a great degree of personal feelings when the word union is mentioned, but so often I look at professional associations and realize the name may be different, but the thought is the same...strength in numbers.

As I get toward the end of my career, I look forward to the thought of receiving the Teamsters Canada Pension Plan, and I am so grateful for the belief others had before me that Teamsters deserved a good and decent retirement...thank you.

Drew


- Drew Speirs
- Dave S

"I have been a member of Teamsters Local 464 for 23 years and have seen many of the executives come and go. Some of the previous executives nearly ran the Local into bankruptcy including losing our pension.  Bobby Kornhass, Bob Ryder and Paul Barton brought us back from the brink. Since they took over in 2000, we at Dairyland (Saputo) have had the best contracts I have seen since I have been there."

- Randy Onyschak