March 7, 2019
U.S. tariffs on Canadian-made steel and aluminum have been in place for nine months. Unifor remains steadfast in its opposition to these so-called ‘national security’ tariffs, which the union believes to be unreasonable, unfair and illegal. Unifor urges U.S. and Canadian officials to reach a timely and decisive resolution to this matter, a resolution that must include the full elimination of tariffs. The union understands that talks between U.S. and Canadian officials are ongoing.
Unifor is encouraged to hear Canada’s Transport Minister, Marc Garneau, suggest that the refusal of the U.S. to lift its ‘national security’ tariffs could delay a Parliamentary vote on the proposed Canada-United States-Mexico Agreement (CUSMA). This statement appears to corroborate the views expressed by U.S. Senator Chuck Grassley, following a closed-door meeting with Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland, weeks earlier.
The unilateral application of border tariffs by the U.S. President, under the guise of national security, is cause for great concern. These tariffs, supported only by a small number of U.S. stakeholders, have disproportionately harmed Canadian workers and have failed to address the more deeply problematic global trade imbalances that plague North American workers. President Trump has unabashedly used tariffs in trade negotiations to leverage concessionary demands on key trading partners, like Canada, despite our close and mutual dependence. This is unacceptable and an egregious misapplication of Presidential authority.
Unifor believes that Canadian officials must continue to express their discontent and dissatisfaction toward these and other unfair U.S. tariffs, including directly with American lawmakers and through other independent remedial channels. Unifor will actively support federal efforts to convince the U.S. Administration to end these and other prevailing tariffs on Canadian goods as quickly and efficiently as possible. This includes the withholding of USMCA ratification.
Until there is final agreement on the full elimination of U.S. tariffs, Unifor also supports the continued application of reciprocal tariffs imposed by Canada on the United States, as introduced on July 1, 2018.
Unifor will also continue to monitor the implementation of federal support programs, designed to mitigate the impact of U.S. tariffs on workers and bolster Canadian workplaces. Despite mitigation efforts, U.S. tariffs have so far cost Canada hundreds of direct metal industry jobs and more are expected. Unifor will continue to encourage its local union leadership in affected workplaces to utilize these federal measures, and encourage the federal government to re-evaluate these programs, in consultation with stakeholders. Unifor believes the federal government must be prepared to act immediately if an expansion of supports is warranted.
Canadian workers have long sought a fairer, more balanced and progressive system of global trade – one that advances fundamental human rights, sustainable development and local democratic autonomy. Fair trade requires a mutual respect and solidarity between trading partners, and a collaborative and transparent rethinking of current global trade rules. What the Trump Administration is offering, however, is a trade policy of destruction, destabilization and anti-diplomacy, to which Unifor stands firmly opposed.