LETTER: NAFTA a rigged system with no jobs bonanza

NAFTA will enter another round of negotiations this week. The question is, will it be made better or worse?

NAFTA has not been the job bonanza it was touted to be.

In fact, according to the Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA) program, more than 79,000 Washington jobs have been lost to offshoring or imports since both NAFTA and the World Trade Organization (WTO) agreements went into effect in the mid-90s (www.citizen.org/taadatabase). Those 79,000 workers that qualified for retraining only reflect a small percentage of the jobs lost to trade.

Worse still, at the very heart of these trade agreements is a little-known corporate power grab called Investor State Dispute Settlement (ISDS).

ISDS gives corporations the right to sue governments for introducing regulations they deem ‘unfair’ and to demand unlimited settlements from taxpayer money for loss of their hypothetical future profits. Corporations only need to convince a panel of three corporate lawyers that laws, designed to protect public health, job safety or the environment, violate their special NAFTA rights (www.isdscorporateattacks.org/basics).

But workers can’t sue for unfair job practices, nor can communities who have been poisoned by these companies.

Unbelievable? There have been hundreds of these cases, mostly aimed at other countries until now, according to Public Citizen, a public interest advocacy group (http://tinyurl.com/pdn-pcitizenstudy).

We need to get ISDS out of our trade deals. Will U.S. Rep. Derek Kilmer and U.S. Sens. Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell speak out against this rigged system? Will they call for better enforcement mechanisms that take worker and environmental concerns as seriously as corporate profits?

Linda Brewster,

Port Townsend