Labor Union President Says Trump, House Democrats Have Deal on USMCA

December 9, 2019 Updated: December 9, 2019
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The White House and House Democrats are on the verge of signing an upgraded North American trade deal in what would give President Donald Trump a signature legislative victory, according to several media reports.

The Washington Post reported on Monday that Richard Trumka, president of The American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations, said that Democrats and the White House had come to a deal on the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) and that the labor union was reviewing it.

According to Fox Business, which reported that the “trade agreement [has been] reached,” a final deal could be done in the next 24 hours. It reported that the final deal needs to be ratified by the three countries.

“We have pushed them hard and have done quite well,” Trumka told the Washington Post on Monday. He also said that a deal was in place, and he is planning to meet with his executive committee later on Monday to review the agreement.

On Sunday, the Wall Street Journal also reported that both parties were approaching a deal, citing an anonymous Trump administration official who told the outlet that “we are very, very, very close to completion,” and suggested that the USMCA could be finalized by Christmas.

The USMCA, which overhauls the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) signed by President Bill Clinton in 1993, requires that 75 percent of automobile components be manufactured in the United States, Canada, and Mexico to avoid any potential tariffs. Another 40 to 45 percent of automobile parts have to be made by workers who make at least $16 per hour by the year 2023.

Driver getting in his truck
A driver climbs up his truck as he lines up to cross the border with the United States at Otay Mesa Commercial Port of Entry in Tijuana, Mexico on Jan. 22, 2018.
(Guillermo Arias/AFP/Getty Images)

Last month, Trumka said that “until the administration can show us in writing that the new NAFTA is truly enforceable with stronger labor standards, there is still more work to be done.” His union, which represents 12 million U.S. workers, opposes NAFTA and blames it for destroying millions of American jobs.

Over the past several weeks, Trump and other Republicans pilloried Democrats and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) for not working on the USMCA, accusing them of instead prioritizing impeachment of the president. For the perceived Democratic inaction, Trump has frequently described Pelosi and her caucus as the “Do-Nothing Democrats.”

Pelosi, in the meantime, has given mixed signals about when the USCMA deal could be finalized.

“I do believe that if we can get this to the place it needs to be, which is imminent, that this can be a template for future trade agreements. A good template,” Pelosi said in November.

On Sunday, Mexico’s deputy foreign minister for North America, Jesus Seade, told reporters that “we’re getting close, I’m confident.”

On Friday, Seade stated that many issues still needed to be resolved.