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An Unlikely Union: Labor Leaders Join Trump In Seeking Changes to NAFTA



President Trump announced earlier this year that his administration will be seeking to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). The president heavily criticized the longstanding trade deal during his campaign, so this came as little surprise. American labor unions also have been critical of NAFTA over the years due to perceived negative impact on American jobs and actively lobbied against its passage back in the ‘90s. While organized labor by and large tends to support Democratic candidates and officials, unions and the president seem to have found common ground at least on this issue.


The Office of the U.S. Trade Representative kicked off public hearings this week regarding the potential changes the U.S. may be seeking to the trade pact, and union representatives made an appearance on  June 28. Among others, representatives from the AFL-CIO, Association of Machinists, and the International Brotherhood of Teamsters were in attendance. Union representatives testified that they believed a renegotiated deal should, among other things, prioritize creating more jobs in the U.S. and higher wages. Business leaders and others also are testifying at the proceedings to offer recommendations for what they would like to see in the renegotiated deal.


Formal negotiations on NAFTA are expected to begin later this year. For now, at least, it seems some interests are aligned between America’s unions and President Trump.


David Pryzbylski

Recently recognized as one of the top under-40 labor lawyers in the nation by Law360, David J. Pryzbylski’s interest in labor relations began early in high school, having grown up next to several of the largest steel mills in the world. Today, David is a Partner in Barnes & Thornburg LLP’s Labor & Employment Department. Building on his interest in labor relations, he concentrates a large portion of his practice on assisting employers with traditional labor matters, including collective bargaining; work stoppages; arbitrations; union avoidance training and strategies; union representation elections; unfair labor practice charges; contract administration; and various other labor relations issues.

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