Washington – Unifor National President Jerry Dias said he couldn’t find common ground on the softwood lumber issue during his recent meeting with U.S. Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross.
“We had a frank discussion but were unable to find common ground on the softwood lumber issue,” said Dias. “Given the wide difference in our positions I don’t anticipate a resolution to the dispute anytime soon.”
According to Unifor, the Commerce Secretary acknowledged the benefits of trade with Canada during his meeting with Dias on Oct. 30, telling Dias that the U.S. wants to negotiate a new NAFTA deal.
During the meeting, the third between Dias and Ross, key trade issues were discussed including NAFTA, the auto sector and the unfair imposition of duties on Canadian softwood lumber exports to the U.S.
Dias says there is agreement that addressing the core issue of low Mexican wages is the key to breaking the impasse at NAFTA renegotiations.
“There is a clear understanding that Canadian and American workers have both been injured by the siphoning off of manufacturing jobs to Mexico,” said Dias. “We agreed that Canada and the U.S. must work together to pressure Mexico to drive up wages significantly or face joint retaliatory measures.”
The key negotiator for the United States in the NAFTA talks is United States Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer.
Unifor is Canada’s largest union in the private sector, representing 315,000 workers in every major area of the economy.