Canada Wants to Lift Labor Standards in North America

These days there are few champions of working people in Washington who are fighting to lift standards and rebuild the middle class. To the contrary, it often seems that both in our nation’s and states’ capitols, policy makers are committed to a trajectory of racing to the bottom. Recently, Canada stepped up and offered a different idea:  how about raising labor standards so all countries in NAFTA benefit?


Canada formally demanded that in talks for a “new NAFTA,” the United States must roll back it’s states’ right-to-work laws. Canada’s argument is that these laws – which let workers get the benefits of collective bargaining without having to pay dues to cover the costs of representation – violated international labor standards and were an unfair advantage against Canadian workers.


Their position is quite a contrast to Republican governors across the United States who eagerly sign right-to-work laws, arguing that if they don’t do it, their states will be at a competitive disadvantage against other states. Problem is that there’s no proof that right-to-work laws attract new businesses. Moreover, what happens when the entire country is right-to-work?  Do we start rolling back child labor (that’s already happening)? Minimum wage (ditto)? How about workplace safety standards (yup)? How low do we have to go to “attract businesses?”


Right-to-Work doesn’t create new jobs. It weakens unions and pushes down workers’ wages and benefits and hurts communities. Canada gets it. The one thing they aren’t interested having us export to them are our lousy labor laws.